Hawk Talk: Just OK isn't good enough

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Hawk Talk: Just OK isn't good enough

Wednesday, March 30, 2011
Posted: 6:00 p.m.

By Tracey Myers
CSNChicago.com

The first two words in the Boston Heralds story regarding Tuesday nights Bruins-Blackhawks game said it all.

No complacency.

According to the Herald, thats the Bruins mantra right now, regardless of the playoff berth they already gained last weekend. No quit, no stop, no pause in the pursuit of points. And on Tuesday night, it looked like the Bruins were taking that to heart with their 3-0 victory.

The Blackhawks, meanwhile, were missing the fire and determination their coach was hoping to get for a second consecutive night; they had, after all, showed plenty of it in their overtime victory in Detroit on Monday. As a result, the Blackhawks made no headway in their push for a better spot in the Western Conference playoff race.

No, for all the chatter that apparently came from the Hawks bench as a bloodied Shawn Thornton exited, there was no noise where on the ice where it mattered most. The Blackhawks, save Corey Crawfords and some defensemens especially Brent Seabrooks hard work, were quiet. They werent winning the battles. They werent making it tough enough on Boston goalie Tim Thomas. They werent where they needed to be, which is determined to get some points, any points, out of their Beantown visit.

Maybe the Blackhawks suffered from fatigue after Mondays game. Players said absolutely not and coach Joel Quenneville gave me the succinct head shake when I suggested it in the post-game interview. Certainly its no excuse, especially at this point of the season and especially with whats at stake. As defenseman Duncan Keith told the Chicago Tribunes Chris Kuc late Tuesday if its too hard to play two games in a row we probably shouldnt be in the NHL.

The Blackhawks have made things harder on themselves lately. After their stellar eight-game winning streak, theyve been back to being just streaky (4-4-2 in their last 10). The great victories (vs. San Jose, Detroit and Phoenix) have been tempered by the awful losses (Florida and Dallas) and missed opportunities (vs. Anaheim). Its been one step forward, two steps well, maybe not back, but definitely not forward, either. As Brian Campbell said of the last few games, our week was OK, and OK isnt good enough.

Throughout this latest roller-coaster ride, the Blackhawks have said all the right things. These games are big. These points are big. But the words havent translated into on-ice play enough. Yes, theyve had injuries and certainly miss the services of Dave Bolland (concussion) and Patrick Sharp (left knee). But its late Marchearly April. Every NHL team has injuries right now.

Despite not playing again until Friday, the Blackhawks will hold onto eighth place. Thats the kind ofsort of good news. Now for the not-so-good news: Teams such as Nashville and Anaheim can pull further ahead of them and Calgary and Dallas could get closer to catching them.

Complacency, lack of urgency, no matter the term its taboo for playoff-hopeful hockey teams this time of year. The Blackhawks have six games remaining to secure a playoff berth and make a statement in the process. That statement needs to be reminiscent of Mondays hard work, not Tuesdays lack thereof.

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

Blackhawks assistant Kevin Dineen appreciates interview opportunities

Blackhawks assistant Kevin Dineen appreciates interview opportunities

Kevin Dineen is back with the Blackhawks but there were times this summer you wondered if another team would take him away.

The Blackhawks’ assistant coach was a major candidate for the Colorado Avalanche head coaching job, according to the Denver Post, following Patrick Roy’s surprising departure. There were probably other inquiries, too.

“It’s always nice to go through a process of talking about the way you do your business. It’s also a reflection of where you are,” said Dineen following the Blackhawks’ White-Red scrimmage on Saturday. “No. 1, you have to get permission to do that, and the Blackhawks have been great about giving me the opportunity to go out and do that. But also, when you have success, a lot of people want to get your feedback or whatever it is.”

Dineen’s name will likely come up whenever there’s a coaching vacancy. He coached the Florida Panthers from 2011-13 and coached Team Canada women’s team to a gold medal at the 2014 Winter Olympics. Dineen will get another opportunity in the NHL but for now, life is good in Chicago.

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“For me, I couldn’t be happier right here,” he said. “I have a great person and hockey mind to work with in Joel [Quenneville]. But you know, down the line, those things play their way out and we’ll see where it goes.”

Arriving soon

Patrick Kane, Ville Pokka and Michal Kempny will join the Blackhawks’ training camp on Tuesday. The three finished up round-robin World Cup of Hockey play with their respective teams on Thursday.

Dineen said there’s a chance one of the defensemen, Pokka or Kempny, play in Wednesday night’s preseason game against the Pittsburgh Penguins.

“They’ll get into the swing of things here on Tuesday,” Dineen said. “So that’ll give them a good rest after a long, tough September, and we expect them to hit the ice flying.”

Briefly

  • Duncan Keith will skate during one of the Blackhawks’ practices on Sunday and Monday.
     
  • Team White defeated Team Red 4-3 in Saturday’s scrimmage at the United Center. Spencer Abbott led Team White with two goals.

Alexandre Fortin taking advantage of Blackhawks tryout

Alexandre Fortin taking advantage of Blackhawks tryout

For Alexandre Fortin, the last few months have certainly been memorable.

It all started earlier this summer, when Blackhawks scout Alexandre Rouleau contacted Fortin’s agent: Fortin was invited to the team’s prospect camp. He did so well there that he was invited to the rookie tournament in Traverse City, Mich., last week. And now, the 19-year-old is here on a training-camp tryout.

Yeah, it was quite a summer. And now Fortin would like to turn it into just as memorable of an autumn.

Fortin assisted on a goal in Saturday’s scrimmage, part of the Blackhawks’ training camp festival at the United Center. The Blackhawks are going to be keeping an eye on Fortin, who’s been impressive since that July prospect camp.

“I like his willingness to learn. Those same things you talk about, immediately it translates right into the next shift,” Blackhawks assistant coach Kevin Dineen said. “He’s a smart, cerebral kid who has a nice offensive skillset he’s been able to show early. He’s off to a really good start and trying to find a way into one of our exhibition games.”

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Fortin had 19 goals in 54 games last season with Rouyn-Noranda of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League. Just to get a chance with the Blackhawks is motivation enough, although Fortin already had plenty. The Quebec native was passed over in two NHL drafts, much like former Blackhawks forward Andrew Shaw.

“I had two years where I didn’t get drafted, and it’s always hard mentally. But some guys never get drafted and have a good hockey career,” Fortin said. “I worked a lot in the summer just to be ready to try and do the same thing I did in prospect camp.”

Fortin also got some advice from family; his uncle is former NHL goaltender Jean-Sébastien Giguère, who won a Stanley Cup with the Anaheim Ducks in 2007.

“For sure, I had a couple of meetings with him just before I came here. He had a great career. He helped me on that. I can call him every time, ask him questions,” Fortin said. “It’s good to see the veteran guys. You have to use them as an example. It’s what I want to do. I have to learn how to be a pro.”

Fortin doesn’t know what the future holds but he’s getting a chance with the Blackhawks, something he didn’t foresee when the summer began. And with that chance, anything can happen.

“You have to stay focused on your goal,” Fortin said. “You know my life has changed a few times just with what I’ve done here. We’ll see after, but I’ll keep doing what I’m doing now.”