Dealing with concussion left Bolland depressed

Dealing with concussion left Bolland depressed

Tuesday, April 12, 2011
Posted: 9:03 p.m. Updated: 9:55 p.m.

By Tracey Myers
CSNChicago.com

VANCOUVER, British Columbia Dave Bolland was as down mentally as he was physically.

The Chicago Blackhawks forward struggled with the concussion he sustained on March 9. Days, weeks went by, and Bolland just wasnt feeling any better. It was sapping him in every way.

Its a drain to your body, a drain to your mind, said Bolland, who talked Tuesday for the first time since getting hurt. Its depressing. I didnt want to do anything. Guys would want to do something and you just wanted to stay in. You dont want to deal with anything. It was very tough. I could feel for (Sidney) Crosby and other guys whove had it. Its a tough time and Im glad Im over that hump.

Bolland is improving and he once again donned the non-contact jersey to practice with his teammates on Tuesday. While teammate Troy Brouwer (right shoulder) is a good possibility for Game 1 on Wednesday, Bolland isnt - I still have to do some tests to make sure everything up there is OK, he said.

Coach Joel Quenneville said well make that announcement when hes ready to go.

Tampa Bay defenseman Pavel Kubina was suspended three games for the elbow that caused Bollands concussion. Bolland said Kubina may have tried to call him, but doctors told him to stay off his cell phone not long after he was hurt, so hes not sure. Regardless, Bolland harbors no ill will toward Kubina.

I know he didnt mean to clip me like that, he said. Its a fast game and things happen out there. You wish things like that didnt happen but its part of the game and have to deal with it.

Bolland said he finally snapped out of it two Sundays ago after having headaches and feeling hazy and foggy for the last three or four weeks. Every night he went to bed hoping hed feel better the next day. Every morning, he wouldnt.

Doctors said one day you have it and the next day its totally gone. Id wake up every day hoping that was the day but it just was never going away, Bolland said. Its just time and thats all it is.

Now hes turned the corner. Hell take the necessary steps and tests to make sure hes ready. theres nothing more hed like to do than to play against the Canucks; but for now, hes happy just to be here, to be practicing and to be feeling better.

Once we knew wed be playing Vancouver, I wish I felt better and was ready to play the first game. It does get frustrating when everyones getting ready for this, Bolland said. I still feel a little bit of a haze but just whenever I feel great, whenever I feel my mind and heads back, Ill be good.

No Buff

Dustin Byfuglien was big in frustrating the Canucks in last years playoff series. He was a big presence, he crashed the net and scored, garnering a hat trick in Game 1 and collecting six points (four goals, two assists) for the series.

The Blackhawks will be missing that this time against Vancouver, but the Canucks figure theyll just find someone else.

Regardless of who we play someones going to get in front of (Roberto Luongo). Thats the key to scoring goals on him; hes too good otherwise, Kevin Bieksa said. Im sure theyll have a new Byfuglien this series. Well have to find out who it is.

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

After trading Scott Darling, can the Blackhawks find another reliable backup goalie?

After trading Scott Darling, can the Blackhawks find another reliable backup goalie?

What we all expected to happen did happen on Friday night when the Blackhawks traded Scott Darling to the Carolina Hurricanes.

One way or another, be it via trade or just going to unrestricted free agency on July 1, Darling was headed elsewhere. He’s earned the opportunity to be a No. 1 goaltender, it wasn’t going to happen here, and now he’ll get that chance.

But this isn’t about where Darling’s career takes him from this point. This is about the Blackhawks and where they go from here. They’ve been in the enviable position of having some stellar backup goaltenders the past few seasons, from Ray Emery to Antti Raanta to Darling. So as this offseason continues, finding another one becomes top priority.

A few days ago Pat Boyle and I discussed a few topics on the HawksTalk Podcast, including what we considered to be on general manager Stan Bowman’s to-do list this summer. Getting a reliable backup goaltender has to be on there because the Blackhawks have shown over the past few seasons that having that great 1-2 punch in net has proven very successful.

Let’s go back to the 2013 offseason. In the summer of 2013 the Blackhawks signed two goaltenders. One was Nikolai Khabibulin, the other Raanta. We all remember how that went. Khabibulin, another former Blackhawks player brought in on the hopes that he had something left, didn’t. He started four games — two of which Corey Crawford came in and finished — suffered an injury in mid November and never played another game for the Blackhawks. Then on Dec. 8, Crawford, playing in his 27th game of the Blackhawks’ first 32 games of that season, got hurt. Enter Raanta, who went on a tear through December, going 8-1-3. That season highlights the need for reliable depth at that position more than any in recent memory.

You’re familiar with the other examples, too. Emery was outstanding when he had to be in the lockout-shortened 2013 regular season — please see that 45-stop outing vs. Calgary — and he and Crawford earned the William M. Jennings Trophy that year. Darling showed how dependable he could be several times the past few seasons, from his work in the 2015 first-round series against the Nashville Predators to his record (6-3-1) when Crawford was out with appendicitis through the first three weeks of last December.

That depth at goaltending has been especially critical the past two seasons. How many “goalie wins” did the Blackhawks have through the 2015-16 season, when they struggled to get consistent line combinations past their second one? How many did they have at the start of this past season before they did get that four-line rotation in February?

Crawford has played between 55 and 59 games in each full regular season dating back to 2010-11. Injuries happen. Slumps happen. Being overworked happens. Having a backup on which you can rely is something every team would love to have and something the Blackhawks have had recently, and they’ve benefitted from it.

It’s easy for us to sit here and say the Blackhawks need to do this. Actually finding that guy is an entirely different matter. But the Blackhawks have done it well lately, and despite the team’s quick exit this spring, there are still plenty of reasons for a would-be backup goaltender to come to Chicago.

Darling was the latest to embrace the backup goaltending role in his time here. His moving on was inevitable. Now the Blackhawks need to find the next guy who can keep their 1-2 punch in net going.

Why Scott Darling is a perfect fit for Hurricanes

Why Scott Darling is a perfect fit for Hurricanes

Chicago will always be home for Scott Darling. Literally.

He's a Lemont native who grew up rooting for the Blackhawks, signed with the franchise in 2014 and reignited his career by winning over the backup job, and enjoyed the highest level of success by becoming the first local kid to win a Stanley Cup in Chicago.

But as he said at the end of the season, Darling has paid his dues as a backup in the NHL and is ready for the next step of being a No. 1 goaltender.

The Blackhawks gave him that opportunity Friday, shipping his negotiating rights to the Carolina Hurricanes for a third-round pick in 2017.

And, assuming a long-term extension gets done, the fit couldn't be better for both Darling and Carolina.

The Hurricanes play such a structured game under Bill Peters, who is arguably the most underrated coach in the league. He served as the head coach for the Blackhawks' AHL affiliate Rockford IceHogs for three seasons from 2008-11, and was also part of Mike Babcock's coaching staff in Detroit for three years after that. He comes from a solid coaching branch. 

Peters preaches puck possession and team defense, and both categories have excelled during his tenure in Carolina.

Why is this good news for Darling? Because both of those areas have been vital in all three of the Blackhawks' championship runs this decade, meaning there won't be much of an adjustment schematically.

Over the last three seasons combined, the Hurricanes have been the sixth-best possession team in the league (controlling 51.7 percent of the even-strength shot attempts), have allowed the second-fewest shots on goal per game (27.7) and own the second-ranked penalty kill unit (84.4 percent success rate). 

Defense and dictating the pace of play has never been a problem for the Hurricanes; it's the goaltending that's been a sore thumb for a long time, and they've finally addressed it.

In the last three seasons, Carolina has finished 28th, 29th and 29th in even-strength team save percentage at 90.9 (2015), 91.5 (2016) and 91.2 (2017). This past regular season, only two goaltenders — Craig Anderson (94.0) and Vezina Trophy-favorite Sergei Bobrovsky (93.9) — who appeared in at least 30 games had a better 5-on-5 save percentage than Darling, who recorded a 93.7 percentage.

He is a significant upgrade from Eddie Lack ($2.75 million cap hit) and Cam Ward ($3.3 million), both of whom are under contract through 2017-18. (That's a situation Carolina GM Ron Francis will have to sort out as the expansion draft approaches, but there's no doubt Darling will head into training camp as the clear-cut starter).

There's reason to be excited about the Hurricanes' long-term vision and growth on the back end, too. They were the third-youngest team last year, and their blue line group is led by 25-year-old All-Star Justin Faulk and 20-year-old Noah Hanifin, the club's No. 5 overall draft pick in 2015.

The Hurricanes are right there. They're ready to take off after missing out on the postseason for eight consecutive years, in large part because they haven't gotten the goaltending needed to consistently win games.

With the addition of Darling, they hope to have finally found that missing piece to the puzzle.