Hjalmarsson's 'special game'; Kane's relic

Hjalmarsson's 'special game'; Kane's relic

Tuesday, March 15, 2011
Posted: 12:20 a.m.

By Tracey Myers
CSNChicago.com

Chicago Blackhawks defenseman Niklas Hjalmarsson is used to playing in pain. Its just the price you pay for being a shot blocker.

Hes done what hes had to during his latest injury, a hand issue that has him taking maintenance days when he can and playing through it when necessary. But if he was hurting Monday night against the San Jose Sharks, he wasnt playing like it.

Hjalmarsson played just under 19 minutes, blocked three more shots and scored his third goal of the season in the Blackhawks 6-3 victory over San Jose. Hjalmarsson has logged lower minutes in recent games as he works through a hand injury. But on Monday, he had what coach Joel Quenneville called a special game.

Thats as hard as Ive seen him shoot the puck, Quenneville said. He had a great shot (on his goal) and another in the third period as well. He keeps trending and he really enhances his overall contribution from the defensive perspective.

Could the harder shots on Monday be a sign that Hjalmarssons completely healed?

I wont say that, he said. Im just playing through it, just trying to do as best as we can.

Hjalmarsson says he just keeps the positive attitude going.

Its just mental a lot. You just try to handle the pain in a good way, he said. Sometimes youre almost more pumped up because you cant play as you want to. Maybe that prepares you in a different kind of way. It sounds weird, but thats how it is.

Kanes memento

When Patrick Kane scored his 100th career goal on Monday night, captain Jonathan Toews made sure he picked up the puck for his linemate.

Hes been thinking about it for a couple of games, Toews said. I could see him looking over there. So I figured I had to go get it.

Kane said his only disappointment was not getting the 100th goal in Washington on Sunday, when his parents and sisters were at the game.
Patrick Kane received the puck from his 100th career goal, even though justice could have been served by Jonathan Toews and left Kane without the memorable piece of rubber. (AP)
(Patrick) Sharp was saying, Dont worry about that one. Youll get more important ones than the 100th. But its nice (Toews) went and got it. I told him Id get his 100th and then I forgot, Kane said.

Injury update

Brian Campbell (left leg) and Dave Bolland (concussion) did not play against San Jose on Monday night. Campbell played the first half of the Blackhawks 4-3 overtime loss to Washington on Sunday and is still listed as day to day. Quenneville hoped that, with the Blackhawks not playing again until Thursday, Campbell could be ready for that game.

Bollands situation is murkier. The center took an elbow to the head from Tampa Bay defenseman Pavel Kubina last Wednesday and is still apparently feeling the effects of it. Quenneville could give no timetable for Bollands return.

Right now I dont think anythings changed over the last couple of days, said Quenneville. Asked if Bolland is feeling any better, Quenneville said hes about the same.

Briefly

Patrick Sharps four-assist night gives him 68 points this season, a new career high. Sharps previous high was 66 last season.

Brent Seabrook played just under 24 minutes with an assist, a team-high six blocked shots and four hits. He finished a plus-2.

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

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.”