Hawk Talk: 'I Don't Really Like Country Music'

Hawk Talk: 'I Don't Really Like Country Music'

Sunday, April 11, 2010
11:37 P.M.
By Chris Boden
CSNChicago.com

The Blackhawks entered the final day of the regular season with the potential to face the Avalanche, Kings, or Predators.

Turns out, they drew the opponent I was least comfortable with them facing. And that equation had nothing to do with travel destinations. That actually plays into the Hawks hands same time zone, fairly short trip.

Nashvilles top two scorers (breakout boy Patric Hornqvist and now-healthy ex-Hawk Steve Sullivan) have all of 51 points. The Blackhawks have two players with that many assists.

Their team stats pale by comparison: 18th in Goals Per Game. 14th in Goals-Against Average. 24th on the Power Play. 28th on the Penalty Kill. Theyve also been knocked out in the first round of all four of their previous playoff appearances (which came consecutively before missing out last spring) twice by Detroit, twice by San Jose. They lost four of six in the season series to the Hawks.

And yet, this was one of three Central Division teams to hit the century mark in points, and the fact theyre quite familiar with the Hawks personnel doesnt hurt, even though they havent played since December 27th. Behind the braintrust of G.M. David Poile and the only Head Coach theyve ever had Barry Trotz a systems been put in place thats kept the small-market Preds competitive year in and year out. They build from within, make quiet, effective roster moves, and dont dish out free agent money, especially to those outside their existing family. Sure, the Kings have more firepower. The Avs have a no one expected us to be here youth movement and a Park Ridge native in net the Hawks cast off a few years ago, whos played out of his mind this season. No matter whom the high-profile Hawks faced, that opponent would take the old Were David, youre Goliath mindset once the post-season puck dropped. It may not be any more prevalent that this matchup. While Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook have deservedly received plenty of attention for their growth into young, All-Star-caliber defensemen who were also both Olympians, the Preds pair of gold medalist Shea Weber and silver medalist Ryan Suter havent received quite the hype. Matter of fact, when I sat down with Keith and Seabrook earlier in the season and asked if they could think of a comparable shutdown tandem, the first they thought of were the 24-year-old Weber and 25-year-old Suter, moreso than Detroits upper 30s-something Olympic tag team of Lidstrom and Rafalski.

Then theres the matchup in net. Only one of these Finns teams wont be fini after playing in their first-ever post-season series. 26-year-old Antti Niemi going out and winning the crease down the stretch cannot be underestimated, but thats exactly what 27-year-old Pekka Rinne did in his battle with Dan Ellis. Rinne (65) has gone 12-4-1 with a Goals-Against of about 2 since the Olympics. He has the same number of shutouts as Niemi (7), but four have come in his last 14 starts. The Hawks went 2-1 when they opposed Rinne this season (just as they did against Ellis), scoring seven goals in those two wins, while he shut them out in the defeat. While Cristobal Huet was as good against the Preds as he was against any opponent this season back in the 2009 portion of the schedule, Niemis lone appearance wound up being in the unlikeliest of matchups in the season series. The Hawks trailed 2-1 after two periods, scored three goals in a seven-minute span for a 4-2 lead, only to have Nashville score twice in less than a minute to tie. Patrick Kane then rescued the two points, and a 4-2 season series triumph, with 44 seconds left. The nine combined goals in that finale represent one-third of the offense compiled between the clubs in their head-to-heads.

Lets salute the Hawks for setting single-season franchise records for points, wins, and road wins. Theyve answered every challenge, most recently coming out of a 2-5-&-2 funk to win six of their final seven. But it says here falling one win shy of matching the franchise single-season record of 30 home victories may have made their first-round road a little tougher. The Blackhawks should win this series. But the past 6-12 months is now just part of the record books, and memories. Now its about creating the ultimate memory for the first time since 61. Weve been waiting. Its finally here.
Be sure to join Steve Konroyd and me for our 30-minute Blackhawks playoff special Tuesday night at 10:30, following SportsNite. Well take an in-depth look at this matchup and hear plenty from both the Hawks and Predators.

Report: Former Blackhawks winger Kris Versteeg to sign with Swiss League

Report: Former Blackhawks winger Kris Versteeg to sign with Swiss League

After struggling to find a new home this offseason as an unrestricted free agent, Kris Versteeg is expected to leave the National Hockey League and sign with SC Bern of National League A, better known as the Swiss League, according to TSN's Darren Dreger.

The former Blackhawks forward, who spent five seasons in Chicago from 2007-10 and 2013-15, scored 15 goals and 23 assists in 77 games last year with the Carolina Hurricanes and Los Angeles Kings.

It was his highest point total (38) in a season since 2011-12 when he tallied 54 with the Florida Panthers.

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There's no question Versteeg can contribute on the bottom-six for a contender in the NHL, but at 30 years of age and already with two Stanley Cups under his belt, perhaps he feels he can play a larger role elsewhere and will look to accomplish that overseas.

Bouncing around six different times (all via trades) certainly takes a toll, too.

In 550 career games, Versteeg has 131 goals and 182 assists across nine seasons in the NHL with the Blackhawks, Toronto Maple Leafs, Philadelphia Flyers, Panthers, Hurricanes and Kings. 

He was drafted in the fifth round (No. 134 overall) of the 2004 draft by the Boston Bruins.

Blackhawks Marketing Department wins Golden Matrix Award

Blackhawks Marketing Department wins Golden Matrix Award

The Blackhawks organization doesn't only win on the ice.

The team announced Wednesday that their Marketing Department's #WhatsYourGoal campaign, specifically the #WhatsYourGoal: Jenny spot with Head Coach Joel Quenneville, was honored with the Golden Matrix Award for the Best Promotional Video at the 2016 Information Display Entertainment Association (IDEA) Conference for the second consecutive year. 

Additionally, the Blackhawks Game Operations Department and United Center Scoreboard Operations Department were named the NHL's Best Overall Video Display and Production for the second year in a row. These same departments also received the Golden Matrix Award for Best Overall Video Display in the NHL at the 2008 and 2009 IDEA Conferences. 

IDEA recognizes superior achievement throughout the large screen video and matrix display industry by awarding its Golden Matrix Awards (GMAs) at the annual IDEA Conference. The purpose of the GMAs is to recognize artistic and technical excellence in the programming of large screen video and matrix displays located at stadiums, arenas, racetracks, convention centers and other public assembly facilities.

Just last month, Blackhawks players Patrick Kane and Artemi Panarin took home multiple awards at the NHL Awards ceremony for their impressive performances on the ice in 2016. Kane won the Hart Trophy for most valuable player, as well as the Art Ross Trophy as the NHL's regular-season scoring leader and the Ted Lindsay Award as the league's most outstanding player. Panarin was named the Calder Trophy winner for top rookie in the NHL this past season.

Blackhawks to appear on NHL-high 21 nationally televised games

Blackhawks to appear on NHL-high 21 nationally televised games

The Blackhawks announced their 2016-17 regular-season national television schedule Thursday, and there will be plenty of opportunities (21, to be exact) for people across the country to catch a Chicago Blackhawks game on television this year.

The Blackhawks will be making a league-high 21 national television appearances starting with their season-opener on Wednesday, Oct. 12 when they host the St. Louis Blues at 7 p.m. on NBCSN.

Stay tuned for CSN to release the entire local television schedule, including the preseason broadcast schedule, at a later date.

Here is the full Blackhawks' national television schedule: