Hawk Talk: Players Gather to Work Out Problems

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Hawk Talk: Players Gather to Work Out Problems

Saturday, Mar. 27, 2010
5:37 P.M.

By Chris Boden
CSNChicago.com

Turns out it wasnt a total day off for the Blackhawks following their worst, most embarrassing loss of the season. Yes, Joel Quenneville kept his players off the ice. But he didnt let them off the hook for their 8-3 whipping by a Columbus team that went into that game ranked 24th in the NHL in offense.

A sign of a good team and we have one here is if someone makes a mistake, youre held accountable, somebody tells you, Adam Burish said after he and the rest of the Hawks got back in their skates for practice Saturday. We had a little meeting yesterday and Q addressed the issues that we had. Some of the guys said a few things to each other. Thats what a team has to do, what a good team does. Maybe thats a reason a day off, too, was good we addressed the issues, talked about it, kinda pulled the elephant out of the bag. There it is, lets address it, lets figure out whats wrong and lets not hide it, not put it away or not talk about it. Address it, get it out on the table. Now..lets put it away and move forward.

Burish spoke in general terms what was discussed. It was the way we played, the way we defended. Just a lot of things. What was said in the meeting, Ill keep it in here. Like I said, it wasnt one guy or one thing, just a combination. The tone was, weve got ten games left to play the way we wanna play play the right way and thats whats gonna carry us into the playoffs.

Youve never seen a team kind of limping into the playoffs, playing garbage hockey in the last ten games, then all of a sudden, play awesome. You know that, so you have to play good going into the playoffs, got to feel good about your game, and have confidence. So weve got to find that. Obviously, Detroits probably playing with a ton of confidence right now and separated themselves for that eighth spot, playing as good as they have all year. So weve got to get to that level.

I think we cant be too happy with what took place the night before, so that needed to be addressed, Joel Quenneville said of Fridays get-together. You cant be happy with a game like that. We play them next. We should be excited about tomorrow.

As Antti Niemi returns to the net Sunday night, Quenneville still wouldnt publicly proclaim him as his number-one goalie after two shutouts his last three starts and Cristobal Huets struggles. I did ask the Head Coach about the popular suggestion making the rounds that with his team in a fight for playoff positioning the final nine games, over 15 days the best way Huet can get his (admittedly shaken) confidence back in time for the post-season would be a handful of games at Rockford.

I dont even think you can do that, but thats not under consideration at all. You want to be playing your best, we know the importance of goaltending. Anttis coming off several sharp games in a row. I think we want to make sure theyre both comfortable and confident. Thats what well be working on.

Niemi would be experiencing his first taste of the NHL playoffs, and his Finnish League post-season experience wasnt anything close to the upcoming grind that begins in just two weeks. The 26-year-old was in net for six playoff games in each of his two seasons with the Pelicans of SM-Liga, and two games for Rockford last spring.

Thats another reason Fridays meeting needs to provide more productive play - and results - on the ice. The way Detroits been playing, the Hawks may well avoid them in the first round, as the Wings could inch up as high as fifth or sixth in the conference playoff standings these next two weeks. But everyone in that locker room seems to be aware of the need to ramp up their own play, no matter whom they face.

Artemi Panarin’s rep: 'He’ll forever cherish his time in Chicago'

Artemi Panarin’s rep: 'He’ll forever cherish his time in Chicago'

A little more than two years ago Artemi Panarin had many NHL teams vying for his services, the Blackhawks winning the bidding war and signing him. On Friday the Panarin-Blackhawks union was over, the 25-year-old traded to the Columbus Blue Jackets.

But according to his agent, if Panarin had it to do all over again, he still would have signed with the Blackhawks.

Dan Milstein, who represents Panarin, said the Russian left wing is forever grateful to the Blackhawks for the past two seasons in which he put up stellar numbers in consecutive regular seasons.

“The experience, playing on the same line with [Artem] Anisimov and [Patrick] Kane, having coach [Joel] Quenneville and many other members of the organization help him along the way, providing the translation services and being there for him, the entire process made his transition to North America extremely easy,” Milstein said. “He’ll forever cherish his time in Chicago.”

Milstein was in Chicago on Friday morning when he got the call from Blackhawks general manager Stan Bowman on the trade – Bowman told the media on Friday that the deal “came together pretty quickly.” Milstein immediately called Panarin, who was about to get on a plane for a fishing trip in Russia.

“Initially he was shocked. But as the day went on we kept in touch and he understands,” Milstein said. “He said, ‘I understand it’s a business. I accept the challenge.’ His last words were, ‘I accept the challenge.’”

The deal, which sent Panarin and his upcoming two-year deal worth $6 million per season to Columbus, brought Brandon Saad back to Chicago. Saad will likely bring stability to the Blackhawks’ top line, which has missed his presence since he was traded in the summer of 2015. Who Kane’s left wing will be this season remains to be seen. Quenneville said on Saturday that Nick Schmaltz will probably get a good chance there; he played with Kane when Anisimov was hurt last season.

Still, the chemistry between Kane and Panarin will be tough to match. Milstein said he saw Kane briefly at the NHL Draft on Friday night, and that he told Milstein, “just let [Panarin] know that I love him.”

Panarin, like most of the Blackhawks, had a very quiet postseason. After recording seven points against the St. Louis Blues, Panarin had just one assist in four games against the Nashville Predators. Not long after the playoffs Panarin was interviewed in Russian. One of the quotes, translated into English, read, “I was not in the best shape and didn’t have enough strength” for the playoffs. Milstein didn’t believe that was an accurate translation.

“If you know Panarin, in his native tongue he’s very funny. If you use a translator, sometimes it takes things out of context. But I don’t believe that’s what he meant,” Milstein said. “He put a good [regular] season together, a fair season, but the performance in the playoffs, obviously, he was disappointed. He was frustrated with his performance.”

Milstein said Panarin will probably head to Columbus in a few weeks; he’s currently waiting on visa issues. Panarin’s time in Chicago was shorter than most thought it would be but his agent said he’s ready for the next challenge.

“Artemi is looking forward to coming here,” said Milstein, who was in Columbus on Monday. “This will be a good opportunity to shine.”

Blackhawks ink Anton Forsberg, Tomas Jurco

Blackhawks ink Anton Forsberg, Tomas Jurco

When the Blackhawks traded to get Brandon Saad back, they also acquired Anton Forsberg, who they believe is ready to be their latest backup goaltender. On Monday they signed him to a two-year deal.

The Blackhawks inked two players on Monday, Forsberg, whose contract runs through the 2018-19 season, and Tomas Jurco, who agreed to a one-year contract extension.

Forsberg joins the Blackhawks having very little NHL experience – he’s played 10 career games at this level, going 1-8-0. But the Blackhawks’ previous two backup goaltenders, Antti Raanta and Scott Darling, hadn’t made an NHL appearance before joining the Blackhawks. Forsberg led the Cleveland Monsters, the Columbus Blue Jackets’ AHL-affiliate team, to a Calder Cup title in 2016; during that run he went 9-0 with a 1.34 goals-against average and .949 save percentage.

On Friday, when the Blackhawks acquired Saad and Forsberg from Columbus for Artemi Panarin and Tyler Motte, general manager Stan Bowman said the team is, “optimistic about Anton’s potential.”

“We like his profile as a goalie,” he said. “He’s a big guy, takes up a lot of net, has that mobility and makes good positional saves as well as athletic saves. A year ago, led his team to the [Calder] Cup championships, so he knows what it’s like to put a team on his back. It was the AHL but he’s had a lot of success there. He’s earned the right to be an NHL goalie.”

Jurco, acquired by the Blackhawks from Detroit in February, played 13 games with them down the regular-season stretch. Bowman said shortly after the trade that Jurco would get a chance here.

“We’ll be patient with him but we really think there’s a good fit there, looking at his skills and the style of hockey we play,” he said. “I think a lot of ways, sometimes guys need different opportunities. It doesn’t work out in every place. A fresh start will be great for Tomas.”