Hawk Talk: Winnipeg gives Toews a hero's welcome

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Hawk Talk: Winnipeg gives Toews a hero's welcome

Sunday, July 11, 2010
7:51 PM

By Chris Boden
CSNChicago.com

WINNIPEG, Manitoba -- The worst thing about the day was we weren't on the bus with Jonathan Toews during his parade route. The fact there was no bus made it more acceptable.

A late change in plans put the captain in his own convertible, sitting on top of the back seat with the Stanley Cup on one side and the Conn Smythe Trophy on the other. And the man looked as happy and relaxed as I've ever seen him, so it was worth the personal sacrifice and disappointment. We would've loved to talk to him as his fellow natives showered love upon him during the route, but we'd probably talked to him enough anyway, and we'd get him again afterwards. Let JT enjoy!

And the humble 22-year-old was even more humbled when the city renamed the Dakota Community Center in his name. 17 years ago, his parents got him started in organized hockey in that very building - and there are photos there to prove it, if not at age 5, then shortly thereafter. Now the thousands of kids who cheered him on and chanted his name all day Sunday can walk into the same buillding with the same dreams, named after their hero. There was truly a look of shock and disbelief on his face when Mayor Sam Katz removed a sheet covering the placard with the logo of the renamed rink.

Monday, Toews has his own golf tournament for a children's cause and makes a children's hospital visit. He said he had 4-5 days of fishing last week on a lake where Mike Richards lives, and caught some grief from Flyers fans. But he says a little more R-and-R, then he starts gradually working back into hockey shape. It'll be an especially short summer vacation, and between being Cup champs and the roster changes, the 2010-11 season will be his toughest.

As I wrote earlier, people had some fun with Toews earlier in the day when it was revealed where Toews Lake would be. Even Jonathan admittd he'd never fished as far north as a 12-hour car ride from Winnipeg. And no one's sure how many - if any - roads lead to it. I guess a private plane or helicopter's in order for that Conn Smythe bonus. But Premier Greg Selinger - who made the call on his own with no apparent objections - thought the hometown boy, his accomplishments, and they way he goes about his life was well worth it. Lakes are usually named only for this province's casualties of war, or descendants of the Queen.

Speaking of which, my hustling cameraman Dave covered Queen Elizabeth II's visit here last weekend. He claims the turnout to see your Hawks captain was comparable to that of the 84-year-old British monarch.

Betcha this one was a bit more rowdy.

Blackhawks assistant Kevin Dineen appreciates interview opportunities

Blackhawks assistant Kevin Dineen appreciates interview opportunities

Kevin Dineen is back with the Blackhawks but there were times this summer you wondered if another team would take him away.

The Blackhawks’ assistant coach was a major candidate for the Colorado Avalanche head coaching job, according to the Denver Post, following Patrick Roy’s surprising departure. There were probably other inquiries, too.

“It’s always nice to go through a process of talking about the way you do your business. It’s also a reflection of where you are,” said Dineen following the Blackhawks’ White-Red scrimmage on Saturday. “No. 1, you have to get permission to do that, and the Blackhawks have been great about giving me the opportunity to go out and do that. But also, when you have success, a lot of people want to get your feedback or whatever it is.”

Dineen’s name will likely come up whenever there’s a coaching vacancy. He coached the Florida Panthers from 2011-13 and coached Team Canada women’s team to a gold medal at the 2014 Winter Olympics. Dineen will get another opportunity in the NHL but for now, life is good in Chicago.

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“For me, I couldn’t be happier right here,” he said. “I have a great person and hockey mind to work with in Joel [Quenneville]. But you know, down the line, those things play their way out and we’ll see where it goes.”

Arriving soon

Patrick Kane, Ville Pokka and Michal Kempny will join the Blackhawks’ training camp on Tuesday. The three finished up round-robin World Cup of Hockey play with their respective teams on Thursday.

Dineen said there’s a chance one of the defensemen, Pokka or Kempny, play in Wednesday night’s preseason game against the Pittsburgh Penguins.

“They’ll get into the swing of things here on Tuesday,” Dineen said. “So that’ll give them a good rest after a long, tough September, and we expect them to hit the ice flying.”

Briefly

  • Duncan Keith will skate during one of the Blackhawks’ practices on Sunday and Monday.
     
  • Team White defeated Team Red 4-3 in Saturday’s scrimmage at the United Center. Spencer Abbott led Team White with two goals.

Alexandre Fortin taking advantage of Blackhawks tryout

Alexandre Fortin taking advantage of Blackhawks tryout

For Alexandre Fortin, the last few months have certainly been memorable.

It all started earlier this summer, when Blackhawks scout Alexandre Rouleau contacted Fortin’s agent: Fortin was invited to the team’s prospect camp. He did so well there that he was invited to the rookie tournament in Traverse City, Mich., last week. And now, the 19-year-old is here on a training-camp tryout.

Yeah, it was quite a summer. And now Fortin would like to turn it into just as memorable of an autumn.

Fortin assisted on a goal in Saturday’s scrimmage, part of the Blackhawks’ training camp festival at the United Center. The Blackhawks are going to be keeping an eye on Fortin, who’s been impressive since that July prospect camp.

“I like his willingness to learn. Those same things you talk about, immediately it translates right into the next shift,” Blackhawks assistant coach Kevin Dineen said. “He’s a smart, cerebral kid who has a nice offensive skillset he’s been able to show early. He’s off to a really good start and trying to find a way into one of our exhibition games.”

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Fortin had 19 goals in 54 games last season with Rouyn-Noranda of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League. Just to get a chance with the Blackhawks is motivation enough, although Fortin already had plenty. The Quebec native was passed over in two NHL drafts, much like former Blackhawks forward Andrew Shaw.

“I had two years where I didn’t get drafted, and it’s always hard mentally. But some guys never get drafted and have a good hockey career,” Fortin said. “I worked a lot in the summer just to be ready to try and do the same thing I did in prospect camp.”

Fortin also got some advice from family; his uncle is former NHL goaltender Jean-Sébastien Giguère, who won a Stanley Cup with the Anaheim Ducks in 2007.

“For sure, I had a couple of meetings with him just before I came here. He had a great career. He helped me on that. I can call him every time, ask him questions,” Fortin said. “It’s good to see the veteran guys. You have to use them as an example. It’s what I want to do. I have to learn how to be a pro.”

Fortin doesn’t know what the future holds but he’s getting a chance with the Blackhawks, something he didn’t foresee when the summer began. And with that chance, anything can happen.

“You have to stay focused on your goal,” Fortin said. “You know my life has changed a few times just with what I’ve done here. We’ll see after, but I’ll keep doing what I’m doing now.”