Hawks help reunite soldier, family for holidays

Hawks help reunite soldier, family for holidays

Tuesday, Dec. 21, 2010
3:01 PM

By Tracey Myers
CSNChicago.com

The Handley family was getting an inside look at the Chicago Blackhawks on Tuesday. But it was nothing compared to the surprise that awaited them in the locker room.

Lance corporal George Handley was flown into Chicago by the Blackhawks and surprised his family after the teams practice at Johnnys Ice House West. Handley, who just turned 20 on Sunday, flew in from Japan this morning and will be home through early January.

Handleys homecoming was orchestrated by Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane, along with the USO of Illinois. Toews and Kane gave the Handley family a quick tour through the facility before bringing them into the locker room. A few moments later, George came out from a side room to surprise his family.

Handley hadnt seen his family in seven months and wasnt planning to come home until 2012.

Being overseas, I dont get many opportunities to come home because of the cost, said Handley, who wore a Blackhawks sweater with his name on the back. The Blackhawks gave me a plane ticket. All I had to do is take leave and they were taking care of it. Now I get to see them and Im happy.

Anthony Enrietto of the USO of Illinois, said Kane and Toews did a great job getting it together.

Patrick and Jonathan told the Hawks they wanted to bring a soldier home for Christmas. The Blackhawks contacted the USO of Illinois and we were able to make it happen, Enrietto said. With all the Blackhawks have done with veterans and active duty members on the ice, the awareness of what these guys do every day really just hit home, especially at Christmas.

Toews, who will be having some family in town soon himself, enjoyed the moment.

Im excited to see my little brother for Christmas. I cant imagine what its like for a guy like George to come home unexpectedly and have his brothers and sisters almost in tears when he walks in, he said. We were taking them around the room. I think they were getting bored with us so it was amazing to bring him in.

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

Blackhawks: Tommy Wingels fractures foot, will be ready for training camp

Blackhawks: Tommy Wingels fractures foot, will be ready for training camp

Tommy Wingels, who the Blackhawks acquired earlier this month, will miss 6-8 weeks after suffering a left-foot fracture during his offseason training. Team physician Dr. Michael Terry said in a statement that the Blackhawks, “anticipate a full recovery in 6-8 weeks and in time for training camp. We do not anticipate any long-term issues.”

The Blackhawks signed Wingels, a Wilmette native, to a one-year deal on July 1. Wingels will still be at this weekend’s convention.

Why Blackhawks fans might want to tap the brakes on Alex DeBrincat

Why Blackhawks fans might want to tap the brakes on Alex DeBrincat

This is public service announcement regarding Alex DeBrincat and his potential this season with the Blackhawks:

Tap the brakes.

We’ve relayed this address a few times the past few seasons, most notably with Teuvo Teravainen as people eagerly anticipated his professional debut. We’re pretty sure when he was recalled for the first time, exultant trumpets played faintly in the background. But it bears repeating now with DeBrincat, who might or might not do fantastic things right out of training camp.

This warning, however, comes not only because DeBrincat might not be ready for the grand stage play-wise. It’s also because the Blackhawks might not have room for him.

Take a look at CapFriendly.com for the Blackhawks’ current situation: As they enter the fall they’re roughly $35,000 over the $75 million salary cap, but it’s not so much about money as it is the roster setup. There are 22 players currently listed on the Blackhawk’s CapFriendly roster, but only five defensemen. Also, of the 14 forwards listed, only one could be sent to Rockford without going through waivers (Nick Schmaltz).

So if there’s no room for DeBrincat, don’t be surprised.

Still, it’s going to be interesting to see what DeBrincat does at training camp this fall. You understand why the hype is there. DeBrincat is coming off three stellar seasons with the Erie Otters, with whom he had 127 points (65 goals, 62 assists) last season. DeBrincat is hopeful that a strong training camp could lead to opportunity, but he understands it might not be right away.

“I’m confident in my abilities,” DeBrincat said. “But they have a plan for me and I’ll do whatever they want me to do. I’ll stick with their plan.”

But the Blackhawks will take the slow-and steady approach with him as they did with past younger players. He’s only 19 years old, so there’s no need to rush his development. Playing time in the American Hockey League could be very beneficial for him as he makes the jump from the OHL to the pros. As former Otters coach Kris Knoblauch said earlier this summer, dealing with bigger and stronger players at this level is going to be the toughest hurdle for DeBrincat.

“It’s not that he’s afraid; he’s very good at battles. But just playing against the opposition, against five strong, fast players and just finding out how much time he has, where the room is,” Knoblauch said in early June. “One-on-one battles in our league, there are strong guys and he does fairly well. But when you have a unit of guys, it makes the game a little more difficult.”

DeBrincat will have his time with the Blackhawks. It just might not be right away, and for several reasons, including the current roster setup. So let’s tap the brakes. For now, anyway.