Campbell providing calm presence for Hawks

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Campbell providing calm presence for Hawks

Tuesday, Jan. 18, 2011
4:50 PM

By Tracey Myers
CSNChicago.com

Statistics abound in hockey. Points, time on ice, hits, plus-minus, etc. Whatever the numbers, good or bad, players are usually judged by them.

And for Chicago Blackhawks Brian Campbell, one number shows hes doing pretty darn well.

Campbell is a plus-23 this season, including a plus-10 in his last seven games. Its a gaudy digit, for sure; Campbell was a plus-18 last year and had a career-best plus-28 with the Buffalo Sabres in 2006-07. Its a testament of how reliable and key Campbell has been.

Theres a reason why youre plus-23. Its pretty remarkable, coach Joel Quenneville said. Hes out there against good players and playing big minutes. Its an indication that things are going pretty well.

Captain Jonathan Toews said the plus-minus is something that definitely shows how youre playing. Maybe you dont have all the points or goals but the plus-minus shows the effect you have on linemates and teammates. Maybe youre not always the first or second assist or not always scoring goals, but youre involved in the play.

Campells logged plenty of minutes this season and has played in every situation. Hes gotten comfortable with the Blackhawks these past few seasons and said hes learned plenty from Quenneville, a former defenseman himself.

There are a lot of just simple, easy things that he stresses: good stick positioning, good gap, just a lot of positioning in our own zone, when not to attack, staying in front of the net and not attacking plays that arent dangerous plays, Campbell said. Its been good. I feel really comfortable in his game plan right now.

Patrick Sharp said Campbells comfort level is evident.

Its as good as weve seen him play these last two years. Hes been very underrated for our team, Sharp said. Hopefully he continues to play like that for us.

Then theres Campbells partnership with Niklas Hjalmarsson. Campbell said hes been partners with the Swede longer than anyone else in his career, and the familiarity breeds results on the ice. Hjalmarsson, who was a minus-9 while Campbell was hurt and is a plus-8 now, noted his partners steady on-ice demeanor.

Hes very confident with the puck and always calm. That affects me. You know what youre going to get from him every night, Hjalmarsson said. He was good last season, too, but I dont know if Ive seen him play as good as he has this season. Hes been outstanding.
All-Star captains

Detroit defenseman Nicklas Lidstrom and Carolina forward Eric Staal were selected as All-Star Game captains on Tuesday. Jonathan Toews said last week he didnt expect to be selected as an All-Star captain and sounded relieved on Tuesday that he wouldnt have to be picking teammates.

Now we can joke with each other about who gets picked before the other guy, Toews said. I guess it couldve been fun, but Ill be more comfortable sitting on the outside. Theres no reason I want to take all that pressure right off the bat.

Patrick Sharp, meanwhile, said he thinks Staal could pick him.

Staals from my hometown (Thunder Bay, Ontario), so he better draft me. But I have a feeling hes going to make me wait it out, he said. Either way well be having fun with it.

Bears or Packers?

With the Bears hosting the Green Bay Packers in the NFC Championship this weekend, the Blackhawks were taking sides. The teams two Wisconsin natives, Jack Skille and Jake Dowell, were firmly in the Packers corner. Others were going with the Bears.

Thats funny, because all of a sudden they became huge Packers fans, Sharp said of Skille and Dowell. Thats fine. I know my boy Robbie Gould and the Bears are going to pull it out.

Toews said itll make for interesting viewing this Sunday.

Im sure everyones going to be glued to a TV somewhere taking it all in, he said. I wish those guys (Bears) the best. Itd be awesome to see another team here do what we did last year.

And Quennevilles take?

I love football. Lets go Bears.

Tracey Myers is CSNChicago.com's Blackhawks Insider. Follow Tracey on Twitter @TramyersCSN for up-to-the-minute Hawks information.

In wake of first-round playoff sweep, Patrick Kane talks about the Blackhawks' 'reality check'

In wake of first-round playoff sweep, Patrick Kane talks about the Blackhawks' 'reality check'

It’s been just over a month since the Blackhawks were eliminated from the playoffs in swift fashion. And as Patrick Kane told WGN Radio on Tuesday morning, the bitter taste hasn’t gone away.

“I think a lot of us didn’t figure we’d be in the situation we’re in right now,” Kane told Steve Cochran and Dave Eanet on Tuesday. “All of us can work this offseason to get better. It’s a long time to wait to get back to that opportunity to play in the playoffs again, so we’ll have a sour taste in our mouth for a while.”

The Nashville Predators, who made quick work of the Blackhawks in the first round, eliminated the Anaheim Ducks on Monday night to earn the first Stanley Cup Final appearance in franchise history. Kane told WGN he’s been watching the playoffs and said Nashville “has a pretty good system going.”

“They come at you, they play aggressive. I don’t think any of us would be a big fan of the way they defend in the neutral zone, just sitting back and playing that 1-3-1. But at the same time they come at you,” said Kane, who added that the Blackhawks “weren’t even close in that (first-round) series.”

“Maybe we had a chance in Game 3 when we were up 2-0, but it was a clean sweep and that’s probably how it should’ve been,” he said. “So now it’s time to regroup.”

When the Blackhawks had their wrap-up media session on April 22, general manager Stan Bowman was asked if some players, having won three Stanley Cups since 2010, had lost some of the hunger. Bowman didn’t buy that and neither did Kane.

“Four sounds a lot better than three, right?” he said. “It’s a long time away and a lot of work, but sometimes you go through those situations and you realize you won three Cups and it’s almost like you’re going to be there again. That’s where the reality check is for us now, realizing how hard it is to get back in that situation, how hard it is to win a Cup or go deep in this league. There’s a lot of work to be done.”

Should Blackhawks' next assistant coach be Joel Quenneville's choice?

Should Blackhawks' next assistant coach be Joel Quenneville's choice?

On April 22, Blackhawks general manager Stan Bowman vented his frustrations on the team’s all-too-abrupt exit from the postseason, adding that he and coach Joel Quenneville, “are going to work together to make sure that this never happens again.”

There will be plenty of decisions for the two to mull between now and September, when the Blackhawks convene for training camp. When it comes to the assistant head coach vacancy, however, that might need to be decided with a more one-sided approach. That choice ultimately should be made by Quenneville.

In a recent podcast, Pat Boyle and I discussed the Blackhawks’ need to work together on some upcoming decisions. But with the assistant coach, the head coach has to have the loudest voice. The head coach probably should even have the final vote. The relationship between coaches has to be there because they’re around each other constantly. They’ve got to be on the same page. There has to be trust from Day 1.

As for when the Blackhawks name that assistant, there appears to be nothing imminent. A source said Monday that the Blackhawks and Ulf Samuelsson have been in communication about the job — Chris Kuc of the Tribune first reported on Samuelsson on Sunday. On paper it looks like it would be a great fit. Samuelsson and Quenneville played several seasons together with the Hartford Whalers, along with current Blackhawks assistant coach Kevin Dineen. The relationship with Samuelsson has been there for a long time and it would make for a smoother transition. It might also provide somewhat of a panacea for Quenneville after former assistant Mike Kitchen, whose friendship with Quenneville also went back to their playing days, was fired last month.

Earlier this month Bowman told the Sun-Times that Quenneville will have a big role in the Blackhawks’ finding their next assistant coach, with the final choice being a “joint collaboration.” We get that there’s an order to these things and everyone has to be in agreement with the final decision. But in the end the head coach has to be 100-percent happy with his immediate staff. So whoever the next assistant coach is, the decision has to be 100 percent Quenneville’s.