Hawk Talk: Calling for 60 minutes of 'Intensi-taaay'

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Hawk Talk: Calling for 60 minutes of 'Intensi-taaay'

Thursday, Jan. 27, 2010
Posted: 12:30 PM

By Chris Boden
CSNChicago.com

In 28 years of covering teams here in Chicago (yeah, go ahead...do the math...), I can't begin to tell you how many hundreds of times I've heard the player and coach refrain after a loss:

"We didn't play 60 minutes."

"We didn't play 48 minutes."

That first one's become an unfortunate Blackhawks motto into the All-Star break in the 24 times they've come up short over the first 50 games. That should be enough of a sample size for personnel and personality adjustments to have been made on a roster that lost about half of its players from the Stanley Cup championship team.

The frustrating part for the coaching staff, fans, and even some of the players themselves (most notably an increasingly-irritated Jonathan Toews), is they've shown in stretches within many of the games they've lost that if they just maintained the same approach and intensity throughout, they'd have come away with two points. Not to mention the "pace" that my colleague Tracey Myers examined in her Hawk Talk Wednesday.

Finding ways to dictate that pace, now more than ever, must come from within. As our old friend Norm Van Lier might say as we come up on the one-year anniversary of his passing, "Give me 60 minutes of INTENSI-TAAAY!" in lieu of the 48 he'd ask every game of his Bulls.

If you watch any of our pregame shows on Comcast SportNet, in features that also air on the United Center scoreboard before home games, virtually every time, one of the three keys to victory given by either Assistant Coach - Mike Haviland or Mike Kitchen - involves playing 60 minutes.

Now without going all SaferWallaceReasoner on you, "60 Minutes" involves discipline, recognition, and effort in seizing and maintaining a game's momentum. That ebbs and flows within every NHL game, but every guy putting those elements together over these final 32 games will go a long way in determining whether this team doesn't supplant the 2007 Carolina Hurricanes as the latest unable to defend its Cup the following post-season.

Here's a scary note: The '06 'Canes finished with a 52-22-8 record, the exact record the Hawks had when they went on to win the Cup last season. They weren't bad in '07 under (drumroll, please..) Peter Laviolette, but a 40-34-8 record (88 points) wasn't enough to make the playoffs. Right now, the Blackhawks are projected to reach 92 points, and you can debate whether that'll be enough in this Western Conference where contenders are beating themselves up nightly.

That returning Carolina team lost just four key players to free agency in the off-season: Matt Cullen, Doug Weight, Mark Recchi, and Aaron Ward. These Blackhawks have lost so much more. So there's also a temptation to give this team and coaching staff credit, because they've hung right in there, and remain within striking distance of a fourth seed. Meanwhile the rest of the field they're fighting hasn't had to make those personnel adjustments, other than key injuries - which the Blackhawks have also had to battle.

Roughly a month away from the trade deadline, it's tough to see any big splashes made within this cash-strapped team. Only Pittsburgh and Vancouver have less cap space right now, according to www.capgeek.com. The Hawks have under 1 million at this point, which is why Nick Leddy's doing the Rockford Shuttle. Calgary, San Jose, and Minnesota own the 5th-, 7th-, and 10th-smallest Cap room. But the likes of Anaheim and Los Angeles have 9-to-11 million in projected cap space by the deadline.

Dallas, Phoenix, Nashville, St. Louis and Colorado have the most flexibility. Unless Stan Bowman would want to move one of his bigger-salaried tickets (and find a taker with a match), he'd be limited to moving a combination of smaller pieces to get a more significant "rental" they wouldn't be tied to next season. Your higher-priced unrestricted free agents this summer, on teams who'd be willing to deal with the Hawks, would require significant personnel sacrifices in return (Toronto defensman Tomas Kaberle earns 4.2 million and if Florida's Dale Tallon would want to do business, defenseman Bryan McCabe and his 5.7 million tag and winger Cory Stillman's 3-12 million price, seem steep).

The list of UFAs salaried below 1.7 million on Eastern Conference teams slipping out of contention right now include Radek Dvorak and Marty Reasoner of Florida, Steve Montador, Mike Grier and Rob Niedermayer of Buffalo, and Andy Greene of New Jersey.

The Hawks would need to counter with a younger player or two in return off the current roster just to make those moves and not disrupt the long-term core. But the longer any teams remain on the cusp of the Top 8, the less likely they are to hold a sale. So look East if there's any movement involving the Blackhawks.

So it looks more and more as if what we see is what we'll get. That might not be a bad thing if all the guys making the big numbers start putting up better numbers more consistently. And everyone gives "60" over the next 32. They'll enter the second half completely healthy, barring some tragedy over the weekend in Raleigh (the home of those 'Canes).

After Tuesday's loss to Minnesota, the Hawks aren't back home for three weeks, when the Wild will be there to greet them again. How much better or worse will they be for that rematch, with six roadies in-between?

With the exception of a game against an improving Edmonton team they've already lost to twice, every other game will be against a team fighting with them for the Top 8, a team they're chasing, or one with something to prove against them (Columbus, Vancouver, Calgary, Phoenix and Dallas).

They enter the break in 7th place, by virtue of having one more win than 8th-place San Jose. They're four points out of 4th, two points from 12th, and five points from 14th.

Get your rest, boys.

Be sure to follow Blackhawks Insider Tracey Myers' coverage of the four Blackhawks and coaches Joel Quenneville and Mike Haviland at All-Star Weekend in Raleigh, beginning Friday, here on CSNChicago.com

Chris Boden is the host of Blackhawks Pre and Postgame Live on Comcast SportsNet.

It’s a business, but Blackhawks still feel sting of emotional deals

It’s a business, but Blackhawks still feel sting of emotional deals

Coach Joel Quenneville stood in the United Center hallway, summing up what had been a difficult Friday.

“Very emotional deals,” he said on Saturday morning, as Day 2 of the NHL Draft commenced. “A lot to process there.”

Indeed, the Blackhawks had a busy and difficult day on Friday, trading defenseman Niklas Hjalmarsson to Arizona and swapping Artemi Panarin and Brandon Saad in a deal with the Columbus Blue Jackets. Quenneville was seen by media leaving a coaches meeting in between the Hjalmarsson and Panarin/Saad trades on Friday morning and he wasn’t at the Blackhawks’ table on Friday, unusual for the opening night of the draft. But he said his absence wasn’t about the trades.

“Not at all,” he said.

Still, as Quenneville said, big moves are a lot to process, even for a team that’s done its share of shedding players since the 2010 offseason. General manager Stan Bowman said Friday was filled with, “high emotions… when you make some difficult decisions.” Jonathan Toews said on Friday night that, “everyone’s kind of shocked” by recent events, including Marian Hossa’s loss. Toews added he was wary of saying the team was better today, out of respect for departed players.

“It’s hard to sit there and say that without sounding like you’re being disrespectful to two teammates you care for and know were huge parts of the team,” he said.

We talk about the business side of hockey all the time. You make the tough decisions and then you move forward. But there’s a human element to all of this that’s easy to forget. Players, especially those who are with an organization for a long time as Hjalmarsson was, make their impact on and off the ice. Teammates and coaches are spending endless amounts of time together, and those bonds, coupled with what they all go through during regular seasons and Stanley-Cup runs, endure. Saying goodbye is difficult.

For Quenneville, seeing Hjalmarsson leave was very difficult.

“Well, certainly Hammer, he’s one of those heart-and-soul guys and was instrumental in winning some championships for us. You feel for him and what he meant to his team and his teammates and fans here and the city of Chicago. He’s one of those guys that you have an appreciation to watch and see how he competes and knowing what he fights through to stay on the ice in a lot of games. He’s a heart-and-souler. Those guys are hard to see go,” Quenneville said. “Bread Man wasn’t here long enough to really get that consistency over term. But Hammer really did give a lot to the organization. And we are very appreciative of the Bread Man, because he could wow us and entertain us and a great kid, as well.”

Still, there’s the positive side. Quenneville and Toews are thrilled to have Saad back in the fold. Toews and Saad had great chemistry, the first time around and Quenneville said he’ll put those two together to start the season – “I know that [Patrick Kane] finds a way to make it happen, no matter who’s playing at center or on his left. It really adds a one-two punch that hopefully we get consistency and predictability in that area,” Quenneville said.

Saad should also help fill at least some of the void left from Hossa.

It’s another offseason during which the Blackhawks are feeling the losses, professionally as well as personally. You process, you deal with the sting and then you proceed. That’s the business.

“As a coach, we’re in the short-term business, we’re thinking about now,” Quenneville said. “So we’re going to do everything we can to better ourselves right now and looking to win today. And that’s our challenge and that’s what we look at.”

Blackhawks 2017 NHL Draft capsules: Scouting reports

Blackhawks 2017 NHL Draft capsules: Scouting reports

Stay up to date with the Blackhawks' selections in the 2017 NHL Draft, and their scouting reports.

Round 1, pick 29: Henri Jokiharju, Finnish defenseman

Round 2, pick 57: Ian Mitchell, defenseman 

— What you need to know: Mitchell, 18, scored eight goals and added 29 assists in 53 regular-season games with the Spruce Grove Saints of the Alberta Junior Hockey League, and also scored a goal and recorded three assists in 10 playoff contests.

— Scouting report: Mitchell is a little undersized (5-foot-11, 165 pounds), but is known to be a smooth skater and puck-mover. He carries a right-handed shot, which GM Stan Bowman said is a "commodity" in the NHL these days.

Round 3, pick 70: Andrei Altybarmakyan, Russian forward

— What you need to know: Altybarmakyan, 18, had 20 goals and 25 assists in 31 regular-season games with the Serebryanye Lvy St. Petersburg of the Maritime Hockey League. He also tallied nine points in 27 games with SKA-Neva St. Petersburg.

— Scouting report: An offensively skilled player with a sneaky good shot. He's 5-foot-11, 183 pounds with a left-handed shot, and is known to be a playmaker.

Round 3, pick 90: Evan Barratt, center

— What you need to know: Barratt, 18, scored 18 goals and added 38 assists in 63 games this past season for USA's national under-18 team, and also registered a goal and five assists in seven games to help USA win the gold medal in the IIHF Under 18 World Championships. He will play for Penn State in 2017-18.

— Scouting report: Barratt's biggest strength is his hockey IQ, and playing hard in all three zones on the ice. He's 5-foot-11, 187 pounds, has a left-handed shot and says he models his game after Derrick Brassard.

Round 4, pick 112: Tim Soderlund, Swedish forward

— What you need to know: Soderlund, 19, scored three goals and added four assists in 39 games last season for Skelleftea of the Swedish Hockey League.

— Scouting report: He's an undersized (5-foot-9, 163 pounds) versatile forward with a left-handed shot who's known for his speed, and isn't afraid to go into the dirty areas.

Round 4, pick 119: Roope Laavainen, Finnish defenseman

— What you need to know: Laavainen, 18, had five goals and 16 assists in 48 games last season for Jokerit's under-20 team.

Round 5, pick 144: Parker Foo, forward

— What you need to know: Foo, 18, had 34 goals and 32 assists in 60 regular-season games with the Brooks Bandits of the Alberta Junior Hockey League, and also added 10 goals and 10 assists in 13 playoff contests. He will play for Union College in 2017-18.

— Scouting report: Foo is 6-foot-1, 170 pounds and carries a left-handed shot. He prides himself on being a reliable two-way player and be responsible defensively. 

Round 5, pick 150: Jakub Galvas, Czech defenseman

— What you need to know: Galvas, 18, scored one goal and added five assists in 36 regular-season games with HC Olomouc of the Czech league.

Scouting report: Galvas is a 5-foot-11, 165-pound right-handed shot defenseman who can be effective both on offense and defense, and contribute on the power play, too.