Chicago Blackhawks

Hawk Talk: Monday Morning Music City Musings

159411.jpg

Hawk Talk: Monday Morning Music City Musings

Monday, April 26, 20101:45 PM

By Chris BodenCSNChicago.com
Marian Hossa was on the ice, but Jonathan Toews and Brent Sopel were not.

Hossa expressed relief over NHL disciplinary boss Colin Campbell ruling he shouldn't be suspended following Saturday's hit on Dan Hamhuis, who was disappointed both will be on the ice tonight for Game 6. Predators coach Barry Trotz accepted the verdict, and was ready to move on.

That's what he's been telling his players to do the last couple of days since the roof almost came off the United Center four minutes into overtime on Hossa's goal that put the Hawks in the series driver's seat. He told us after the morning skate that, emotionally, his team was at "Gound Zero" in the locker room. He believes he's gotten them to the point that it's set aside and that they'll give the Blackhawks their very best tonight.

He may also finally have leading scorer Patric Hornqvist available again. Trotz says Hornqvist will skate in pregame (as he did this morning), and that it'll literally be a "gametime decision." Hornqvist was hopeful in the locker room, but said he would not play with his upper body injury unless he's 100 percent. Glad Brian Campbell didn't feel the same way.

Trotz also says he'll try some new things on that 0-for-21 power play -- that maybe he and his coaching staff have been too stubborn in their ways, and are ready to tweak a thing or two. The addition of Hornqvist would certainly help, as he also led the club with 10 power play goals.

The man who's had a big hand in that penalty-kill success -- Sopel -- was given the morning off to help his body prepare for a few more blocked shots tonight. Joel Quenneville says he'll play, as will Toews, who soldiered on after his leg appeared to take a bad hit along the boards Saturday.

It was difficult to gauge from the locker room this morning jumping from interview to interview the team's mood. It seemed pretty serious. And it's hard to even tell whether scoring the first goal or two might have an effect on these Predators. Maybe at this point, it would have a greater influence than at any other point in the series, based on Saturday. But keep in mind that overcoming a 3-1 deficit in Game 5 was as impressive as their inability to close it out was unimpressive. They seemed to have gained the Hawks' respect, as well they should. Letting a series rest on Game 7 -- even at home -- is no guarantee, especially against this team if they bounce back tonight, and especially in this postseason.

One thing the local media draws on is a game played on March 11 in San Jose. The Predators took a 4-2 lead into the third period, allowed six Sharks goals, and lost, 8-5. The naysayers thought it was the start of their slippery slope in the competitive West as other teams outside the top eight appeared to be stepping up their games. Trotz's Troupe responded with a six-game win streak, starting with wins in Anahaeim and L.A. So before the Hawks start planning for a rematch with Vancouver ... first things first. If the Predators are down, they may as well knock 'em out and expect the elimination game to be, as they say, the toughest one to get.

I'll be on from Bridgestone Arena on "SportsNite" at 6:30, "Blackhawks Pregame Live" at 7:30, and in-game interviews during Game 6, starting at 8:00 on Comcast SportsNet Plus, when we expect to talk with John Madden along the bench just before the puck-drop.

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.