Hawk Talk: Rookie Morin proving his worth

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Hawk Talk: Rookie Morin proving his worth

Wednesday, Dec. 1, 2010
Posted: 11:03 a.m.

By Tracey Myers
CSNChicago.com

Jeremy Morin sat at his stall following the Blackhawks' victory over the Blues on Tuesday night, the stitches across his bruised nose earned in a late fight with someone he apparently scrapped with in the minors earlier this season.

Be it the brawl, his energy, his hits or his odd-but-effective pass that hit glass, bounced funny and turned into his first NHL point ("I'll take it and it wasn't what I drew up, that's for sure," he said), Morin was making the most of his third NHL game.

"I think he's trying to make a name for himself and stick here for a bit," said Patrick Kane.

Yes, he is. And yes, he should.

Morin was called up when Marian Hossa went down with a lower-body injury at Monday's practice. He's not here to replace Hossa. Not many can do that. But bring energy? Enthusiasm? A little grit? He can do that. And because he's doing that, he deserves to stay a little while.

Hey, we know Hossa's out for a bit, likely 2-3 weeks as coach Joel Quenneville told us all Tuesday morning. And on Saturday night in Los Angeles, general manager Stan Bowman said the salary cap was not a problem in bringing players up from Rockford.

"We can bring a guy up tomorrow if we want to," he said. "It's not a salary cap issue."

Bowman said that when the Blackhawks were healthy the lines were rolling and there was no need to bring up another body. Now they're ailing again and they could use Morin. Tomas Kopecky said Morin's outing on Tuesday was "huge."

"He was involved and he was unafraid," Kopecky said. "Even the first goal when I scored, he made the great play in the offensive zone with a big hit there. The second goal -- maybe you don't see those little things, but it was all his work along the boards -- he caught that pass and got it to (Patrick Sharp) and he scored. I like the way he played."

Morin said Tuesday morning that playing for the Rockford IceHogs has helped him prepare for the faster pro game. Neither that, nor his first call-up, however, helped him quell the butterflies entering Tuesday.

"I think I definitely had some nerves," he said. "I come here and I'm expected to perform. I just try to take a different approach, get some hits early and that kind of loosens me up a bit."

The 19-year-old Morin was oh-so close to making this Blackhawks roster out of training camp. He earned respect there. He earned more in his first call-up earlier this month in Atlanta when he blocked a shot off the back of his knee, curled up for a few moments on the ice, then tried to play again a few minutes later.

On Tuesday, he added a few more respect-earning moments. Morin was everywhere on Tuesday, landing a big hit here, logging some power-play minutes there and adding plenty of zip.

His teammates have noticed it all.

"He's done some crazy things since he's been in our lineup," Jonathan Toews said. "That shot block he came up with in Atlanta, everybody on the bench was in pain when we saw him take that puck to the back of the leg. It was surprising to see him go after the guy he did (St. Louis' Chris Porter on Tuesday). It's fun to see that. As long as he doesn't get hurt, it gives our team the energy."

He gave them plenty on Tuesday. So at least let him stay while Hossa's sidelined. He's earned it.

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

Blackhawks fire assistant coach Mike Kitchen

Blackhawks fire assistant coach Mike Kitchen

When Blackhawks general manager Stan Bowman addressed the media on Saturday, he said that there would be change. That started on Monday when assistant coach Mike Kitchen was fired.

The move came five days after the Blackhawks were swept out of the first round by the Nashville Predators. Bowman said in a statement that, “we believe this decision is best for our organization moving forward. Mike had an impact on two different Stanley Cup championship teams during his tenure in Chicago. We appreciate his many contributions and wish he and his family success in the future.”

Kitchen has been a member of coach Joel Quenneville’s staff since 2010. The two go back to their playing days, however, when they were teammates with the Colorado Rockies and also the New Jersey Devils. Kitchen was Quenneville’s assistant when the two were with the St. Louis Blues and when Quenneville was fired as Blues coach midway through the 2003-04 season, Kitchen was promoted to head coach.

As part of the Blackhawks’ staff Kitchen’s focus on special teams, mainly the penalty kill. That kill finished the regular season 24th overall in the league, although that has to come with an asterisk. The penalty kill started the 2016-17 season so poorly that it was never going to get too far out of the basement. It did get stronger as the season wore on, and it was fourth overall during the Blackhawks’ short stay in the playoffs.

Which Blackhawks will be participating in 2017 IIHF World Championships?

Which Blackhawks will be participating in 2017 IIHF World Championships?

The Blackhawks' season ended much sooner than expected after being swept in the first round of the Stanley Cup playoffs by the Nashville Predators.

But for some players, their hockey season may not be finished yet.

The IIHF World Championships begin May 5, and an early postseason exit gives several Blackhawks an opportunity to play in the tournament.

With the National Hockey League saying it will not participate in the 2018 Winter Olympics, players may be more inclined to join given the uncertainty of when they'll be able to represent their countries again — if ever, for some.

Here's an update on which Blackhawks players could be participating:

— Patrick Kane said Saturday he's taking the weekend to mull over Team USA's offer, and will make a final decision in the next "day or two."

— Duncan Keith, Brent Seabrook and Jonathan Toews each declined their invites from Team Canada, electing to use a lengthy offseason to recharge and focus on training for the 2017-18 NHL season.

— Corey Crawford and Nick Schmaltz said they have not been contacted by their respective countries, but both said they would consider going if they are.

— Artemi Panarin has reportedly already accepted Team Russia's offer to play.

— Niklas Hjalmarsson said he's "thinking about" Team Sweden's offer after the NHL's decision not to attend the 2018 Winter Olympics. "Who knows when I'll ever get a chance to play for my country again, so that might be factor," he said.

— Marcus Kruger said he's talking with Team Sweden officials, and has expressed interest in going.

— Marian Hossa said he informed Team Slovakia that he will not be playing: "Let the young guys play."

— Richard Panik will not be participating either, saying he doesn't want to risk injury as he seeks a new contract.