Chicago Blackhawks

Hawk Talk: Kane's injury hurts to the very core

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Hawk Talk: Kane's injury hurts to the very core

Monday, Dec. 6, 2010
Posted: 1:46 p.m.

By Chris Boden
CSNChicago.com

We knew a week ago, coming off a successful Circus Trip, that the Blackhawks were entering their most important stretch of the season. December would be spent at home, except for three games, and they'd be facing other Western Conference playoff contenders.
A week later, they've already been playing without Marian Hossa. Now the degree of difficulty increases for a team whose resources aren't as deep as a year ago as they prepare for this stretch without Patrick Kane, too. When Joel Quenneville says afterwards he'll be out "a bit," or "a while," I'm thinking more in terms of weeks, not days.
Someone once told me how quickly things can change in the NHL.
Yep.
Hossa's practice injury was originally estimated to need a 2-to-3-week recovery time. No matter when he returns, Joel Quenneville said after Sunday's game that, regardless of his team's star power, the most important thing will be stick with their offensive principles. This team is always better when they're the Blue Collar Blackhawks, and if they can commit themselves to do that on their home ice most of this month, they just might be able to get through their health problems.
They've had two months now to adjust to, and get to know, each other. They'll have to win games not necessarily by being more conservative, but more disciplined and smart, and improving their penalty kill. They managed to get through the penalty parade without 1 killers Hossa and Fernando Pisani Sunday night after an 0-for-2 first period. Now's the time they need the Bollands, Bickells, Brouwers, Skilles, and Stalbergs to make a greater impact. And as long as they're winning with Corey Crawford in the net, don't expect Quenneville to mess with a good thing while it lasts, especially at this crucial juncture.

The Head Coach was asked, hypothetically, before Sunday's game (and before Kane's injury) if he had a number in mind about the number of points that'll be necessary to make the playoffs in the West. After a short pause, he threw out 95. With all the games they've played, they're slightly behind the curve, requiring 63 points over the final 53 games, no matter who's in uniform.
For the very immediate future that won't include Jeremy Morin, either. The 19-year-old winger had his best game against St. Louis last Tuesday, but leveled off a bit his last two games and was sent back to Rockford of the AHL Monday. General Manager Stan Bowman said recently the salary cap is not a concern right now in who he calls up from the minors. He's also indicated in the past they wouldn't be shy about giving other hungry Icehogs opportunities, which we could see come Wednesday, if necessary, to round out his lineup. Or, if Hossa andor Pisani could be ready by the weekend, try to get through Wednesday with what they have, including Jordan Hendry.
Wednesday marks Adam Burish's first game against the Hawks, leaving only Kris Versteeg as the only Cup-winning ex-teammate they haven't faced. Burish is part of a Dallas team that's been hot and presently has the West's second-highest point total. After that, it's a roadie to visit two teams the Hawks will try to stay in front of with the games they have in-hand, San Jose and Colorado, before re-matching with the Avalanche here next week. With this latest health challenge, it'll be about finding ways to pile up the standings points they need, without worrying about style points.

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

Could Hobey Baker winner Will Butcher be an option for Blackhawks?

Could Hobey Baker winner Will Butcher be an option for Blackhawks?

The calendar is quickly approaching August and a majority of the NHL's top free agents have already signed new deals or found new homes. But there's one marquee player who has suddenly shaken loose, and will surely draw heavy interest across the league.

That would be 22-year-old defenseman Will Butcher, who informed the Colorado Avalanche that he will hit the open market and become an unrestricted free agent on Aug. 15.

Butcher, a 2013 fifth-round draft pick, was named the recipient of the 2017 Hobey Baker Award, annually given to college hockey's top player, after scoring seven goals and 30 assists in 43 games during his senior campaign while helping Denver University capture its first national title since 2005. It's the second straight year NCAA's top player has elected not to sign with the club that drafted him, with Jimmy Vesey doing the same last year when he signed with the New York Rangers instead of the Nashville Predators.

So could Butcher be a real option for the Blackhawks? There's certainly a reason for both sides to be intrigued by a potential match. 

With Brian Campbell, Niklas Hjalmarsson and Johnny Oduya no longer in the picture, the Blackhawks could use a young, NHL-ready blue liner with top-four potential and Butcher provides just that.

He's a 5-foot-10, 186-pound puck-moving defenseman with high offensive upside but also plays a solid two-way game and is responsible in his own end. He carries a left-handed shot, quarterbacked Denver's No. 1 power play unit and possesses strong leadership skills after serving as the team's captain for two years.

While he is certainly no sure thing, Butcher would be as close to pro ready as any prospect in Chicago's system and could factor into the cards as soon as this season. It also doesn't hurt that he shared the same blue line at Denver as Blackhawks prospect Blake Hillman, who drew great reviews from Joel Quenneville at prospect camp.

The good news for the cap-crunched Blackhawks is that the maximum allowable salary for an entry-level contract is $925,000, so that eliminates the possibility of getting into a bidding war with other teams. Signing and performance bonuses can still be included, but that's the least of their worries if they can land a player of Butcher's caliber.

His decision will really come down to best fit and opportunity to play and win, and the Blackhawks can offer all of the above.

Niklas Hjalmarsson says goodbye to Chicago in emotional Instagram post

Niklas Hjalmarsson says goodbye to Chicago in emotional Instagram post

Niklas Hjalmarsson has called Chicago home ever since he was drafted by the Blackhawks in 2005. But now it's time for a new chapter.

After being traded to the Arizona Coyotes in June, the former Blackhawks defenseman officially said goodbye to the city he spent a decade in and helped bring three Stanley Cups to with an emotional Instagram post that perfectly sums up his time here:

One marriage. Two kids. Three rings. 

Hjalmarsson will forever hold a special place in the hearts of Blackhawks fans.