Hawks set to showcase skills

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Hawks set to showcase skills

OTTAWA, Ontario Patrick Kane was struggling to come up with a strategy for the breakaway challenge, to which he was named just before he talked to the media on Friday night. He even took to Twitter to ask followers for suggestions.

Im going to have to put some things together, Kane said. Hopefully Ill put on a show.

Whether he figures it out or gets some good ideas from his 90,000-plus tweeps, chances are Kane will put on that show.

Kane will participate in three events and fellow Blackhawks forward Marian Hossa will go in the NHL All-Star Skills competition on Saturday night. Kane is also in the skills challenge relay (for passing accuracy) and the elimination shootout). Hossa will be in the fastest skater and accuracy shooting challenges.

The Blackhawks plan to have fun with it all.

Ill try to do my best and hopefully I dont pull anything, Hossa said with a laugh. Ill try to warm up pretty good.

For Kane, Saturdays skills competition is just about as fun as the game itself. Its a chance to be creative, throw in some trickery and ad-lib on the ice, if you will.

When I was a kid I always wanted (the players) to do something fancy, Kane said. Its a good event to try to get fans out of their seats. I think Im going to put more show into it and do some cool things.

Kane will probably pull something out of the bag of tricks for his events. Perhaps that shootout move against the Minnesota Wild that became a highlight-reel favorite?

Maybe well see that one, Kane said. Hopefully the fans like what I do. Its definitely a nerve-wracking event, probably the most. Id love to win it.

SportsTalk Live Podcast: Blackhawks Convention Opening Ceremonies

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AP

SportsTalk Live Podcast: Blackhawks Convention Opening Ceremonies

On the latest SportsTalk Live Podcast, we're live at the 2017 Blackhawks Convention. 

Brandon Saad and Patrick Sharp join David Kaplan and Pat Boyle to talk about returning to Chicago. 

Later Boyle, CSN Blackhawks Insider Tracey Myers, Chris Kuc and Sam Panayotovich discuss the huge roster changes this offseason. 

Listen to the STL Pod below. 

Don Granato thrilled to be working with 'calm' Q again

Don Granato thrilled to be working with 'calm' Q again

For Don Granato, working with coach Joel Quenneville again was a chance he couldn’t refuse. Granato was a young coach with the Worcester IceCats, the St. Louis affiliate when Quenneville was the Blues’ head coach, and Granato learned plenty.

“The presence,” Granato said of Quenneville. “He has a really good presence, a calming influence.”

Wait. Quenneville calm?

“Without a doubt, calming,” Granato said. “It was almost like, ‘Hey, we’re in it together.’ And again, that’s the calm behind the scenes. He helps players and in that case he helped me perform as well as I could at that point. I think he’s good at that, because he’s a people person. That’s what I remember most. It’s more of a feel.”

Granato, who general manager Stan Bowman called “a great communicator,” is happy to be back in the Quenneville coaching fold this season. Granato will be watching the games from upstairs and will bring another voice to a Blackhawks group that is looking to take a fresh approach after a second first-round loss. Assistant coach Kevin Dineen said having another perspective will help.

“I’m looking forward to having Donny here,” Dineen said. “I like to talk. I sit there and talk through things. When you have someone working with you on a specific area of the game you can have those debates. It’s the same thing with players but you’re teaching. With another coach a good, healthy voice like that with Donny’s experience can be great for us.”

Where Granato will help most – and where that calm he learned from Quenneville could be most critical – is with the Blackhawks’ younger players. He’s worked with several already through the USA Hockey National Team Development Program, including John Hayden and Nick Schmaltz, both of whom appreciated Granato’s tutelage.

“It’s so obvious he knows the game so well. I think coaches who know the game well and know how to teach the game well are hard to come by,” Hayden said. “It goes back to what I’ve said about meeting the coaching staff and the rest of the players. You feel comfortable in that regard. With coaching changes that process happens all over again, but I was fortunate to spend two years in the World Juniors with coach Granato, who did an incredible job with coaching and development.”

[MORE: Who goes where? Quenneville already plotting options] 

Granato will have a voice with the Blackhawks and will especially have an impact with their young players. The impact Quenneville made on him is still being felt.

“When he left St. Louis, he and my brother [Tony] coached together in Colorado. So the connection stayed. And I’ve always tried as a head coach to play the system that Joel played. So I’ve always tracked and watched the Hawks and the Avalanche and whoever Joel was playing,” Granato said. “That was fun, that’s the impact he had on me, from not only a presence, but the tactics, as well.