Hawk Talk: Pre-Game Notes from Nashville

Hawk Talk: Pre-Game Notes from Nashville

Thursday, April 22, 2010
4:00 PM

By Brett Ballantini
CSNChicago.com

With the biggest game of the Chicago Blackhawks season looming, mere hours away, heres a snapshot of whats happening with the team, and the mood of some of the key players tonight:

Dirty Dozen: Just 12 Blackhawks skated today, along with goaltender Cristobal Huet: Kris Versteeg, Adam Burish, Brian Campbell, Brent Seabrook, Duncan Keith, Brent Sopel, Troy Brouwer, Colin Fraser, Nick Boynton, Tomas Kopecky and Bryan Bickell.

Vincent Van Go: Joel Quenneville was not on the ice to run the morning skate. Taking the lead role was skating coach Paul Vincent, known for running a tight ship and drilling players hard. Today was no different, as the 12 skaters ran a short but tough practice emphasizing stick-handling and footwork. Blackhawks assistant coach John Torchetti was also on the ice, working individual drills, such as feeding Boynton on some blue line slap-shot runs.

Howlin Burish: Burish hit the ice for warm-ups and immediately let out a loud howl.

Fourplay: Nashville Predators coach Barry Trotz and assistant Peter Horachek were in the stands watching the Blackhawks practice, and Chicago wasnt giving anything away with regard to its lineup tonight. There were none of the standard extra skating drills for tonights scratches. Instead, Burish, Bickell, Brouwer and Fraser remained on the ice for front-of-net shooting drills against Huet.

It would appear, then, presuming Eager was excused from practice and will be active, that the final two forward spots are up for grabs among these four players. With all the hype of having Burish back and Bickell getting to contribute, it looks like Brouwer and Fraser are the scratches.

Two funny notes from this end-of-practice drill. First, Bickell kept getting pucks past Huet. Huet would slam his stick after each one, finally screaming out, F--- you, Bicks!

Afterward, Bickell told me that he seems to have a good record against Huet, with a big smile. On the flip side, Brouwer couldnt buy a goal, and on the very last shot of the drill, he broke through, raising his stick and shouting to celebrate.

Who Are You?: Trotz and Horachek left together and were talking about the Bon Jovi concert that took place at Bridgestone Arena last night. Trotz said he offered Quenneville a ticket, and that Q had refused, profusely. The two had a big laugh over Cool Hand Q at Bon Jovi. I told the two that Q is more a Who guy, and they said, Oh, yeah? So be prepared, that if theres a postseason rematch in 2011 and the Who have embarked on a 14th or 15th farewell tour, Qs got a line on some tix.

Finally, some post-practice quotes:

Bickell:

Its been an up-and-down season for me. Its been a good learning experience to be here with the team. Ive been learning a lot.

On Quenneville stating before the playoffs that Bickell will remain with the team throughout, active or not: That was nice of him to build me up. Its nice to hear a coach say things like that, and I want to give him my best game as a result.

Burish:

At the end of the day its about the bleeping guy across from you on the ice. He isnt going to help you.

Winning in the playoffs is about your will. If you out-will the guy across from you, youll be successful.

Winning isnt just about skating fast or making the pretty pass, its about chipping pucks in, getting traffic to the net. Playing a simple game.

Winning in the playoffs can be smacking the puck in off your butt. Those are the things that win games. Those little things are in here.

Phoenix has been playing like caged animals, crazy men, and look what theyve done.
We gotta find a way to snap Nashvilles momentum. We gotta find a way to take it back. We gotta squish their momentum.

Advice to Brian Campbell upon his return? Dont get in a fight.

Quenneville:

We have to throw that last game in the garbage can. Weve got to get back to some passion and emotion.

Were excited to play tonight. We expect to compete hard.

Brett Ballantini isCSNChicago.com's Blackhawks Insider. Follow him @CSNChi_Beatnikon Twitter for up-to-the-minute Hawksinformation.

Blackhawks Notes: Coaching changes and Marcus Kruger’s status

Blackhawks Notes: Coaching changes and Marcus Kruger’s status

Coach Joel Quenneville didn’t mince words. Finding out his good friend, former assistant coach Mike Kitchen was fired not long after the Blackhawks’ postseason ended, frustrated him.

“That day, I was not happy. I was a little disappointed,” Quenneville said on Thursday. “We lost a great coach and somebody I had been working with for a long time. It was tough and we’ve moved on now, but I wasn’t excited at the moment.”

In moving on the Blackhawks have revamped their coaching staff, adding another old friend and teammate of Quenneville’s in Ulf Samuelsson and a former member of his St. Louis staff in Don Granato. Quenneville said Samuelsson will take over Kitchen’s responsibilities while Granato will handle a number of tasks.

“Whether he’s pre-scout, helping Kevin [Dineen], helping Ulfie, helping me. He’s helping the young guys like Stan [Bowman] said,” Quenneville said. “We have input with all areas and all coaches and it’s a fun thing, drawing up practices or talking to guys, preparing meetings and evaluating performances. But I think he’s excited to be a part of that as well and Ulfie, he’ll be doing something he’s been doing and he’s excited to work with some of our defense as well.”

As far as the Blackhawks’ defensive style, Quenneville doesn’t foresee it changing.

“I think there are some areas how it ended or after a playoff series, there’s always some tweaks we like to do in games, in playoffs or in series," Quenneville said. "It’s obviously disappointing. But I think there’s a lot of positive things we accomplished last year and how we played without the puck, I don’t think that was too much of an issue.

"But we have a defense that can play both ways and we still want offense from our defensive part of our game. That’d be one of our strengths. But when it’s time to defend, how we want to play in our own end without the puck is something that’ll be very close to how we play.”

Kruger’s situation

There’s been plenty of talk regarding Marcus Kruger, and whether or not he’ll remain with the Blackhawks. Whatever the future holds for the center, general manager Stan Bowman wouldn’t say on Thursday.

“Yeah, there have been a lot of these rumors around, but Marcus is no different than any other player. I’m not going to comment on rumors out there, but people are stating it as if it’s a fact,” Bowman said of Kruger being at the center of trade rumors. “There’s a lot of speculation, but it’s not fair to the players for me to be commenting on what’s been rumored out there. I don’t really have anything to add on that front.”

Trevor van Riemsdyk was Vegas’ selection in Wednesday night’s expansion draft. But a source said it’s still possible the Blackhawks trade Kruger to the Golden Knights.

Why placing Marian Hossa on long-term injured reserve wouldn't help Blackhawks' cap issues

Why placing Marian Hossa on long-term injured reserve wouldn't help Blackhawks' cap issues

When the news came down that Marian Hossa would miss the 2017-18 season, most first thoughts were about his health. But it was only natural to look at the business implications, and the possibility of Hossa going on long-term injured reserve (LTIR).

That would solve the Blackhawks’ cap issues, right? That would give them more money to spend, right? Well, not exactly. See, the LTIR can be a bit complicated. It can also be tricky to explain. And right now, even Blackhawks general manager Stan Bowman is trying to figure out how this all develops for the team.

“I think there’s a little bit of a misconception on the LTI provision in the salary cap, and understandably so. It’s very complicated. It’s not as simple or as easy as people think it to be,” Bowman said on Thursday, the day before the Blackhawks hosted the 2017 NHL Draft. “I don’t want to get into too many details because it’s hard to explain it all, but there’s a couple different ways it can work.

"You can use offseason LTI and in-season LTI and there’s drawbacks to both, and there’s limitations the way that the league handles those things. It’s not as simple as people might think that we just have this ability to suddenly replace Marian with another player. It’s way more involved than that.”

Here are two basics about the cap: a team can be 10 percent over it during the summer, and a team must be at or below the $75 million ceiling when the regular season begins. Of the offseason and in-season LTI options, Bowman told CSN's Pat Boyle and Steve Konroyd that if the Blackhawks choose the latter, "Marian has to count to start the season with his full amount."

It’s not about the Blackhawks finding a guy this summer that makes an equal cap it to Hossa.

“If you did that you would be essentially starting the year with an inability to make any transactions," Bowman said. "And that’s why, it’s a harder discussion to have because you’ve got to give you examples of if this happens. But it just doesn’t work that way. I wish it were that simple, but it’s not. It’s a much more complicated provision than people think. It’s not some easy cap solution where we just go sign a player for the same amount and off we go. It’s much more problematic than that.”

The NHL will be looking at the situation, although there doesn’t seem to be anything that would keep the Blackhawks from putting Hossa on LTIR. Bowman wasn’t concerned about it.

Still, the Blackhawks will still be doing their share of offseason math.

“I know how it works. What’s going to happen is a different question," Bowman said. "You don’t make those decisions overnight, but I think that understandably there’s probably a lot of confusion, because it’s not your job to run the salary cap for a team. So, I can get why you don’t know all the little details, and it is a very intricate provision in the CBA. So, we understand it. We’ve used LTI before, so it’s not like it’s something we’ve never been faced with. It’s just a factor that we’ll get through.”