Myers: Leddy ready to contribute for Blackhawks

357561.jpg

Myers: Leddy ready to contribute for Blackhawks

Friday, Jan. 7, 2011
1:12 p.m.

By Tracey Myers
CSNChicago.com

Nick Leddy thought he was going to spend this weekend off in Minnesota. Instead, the young defenseman got the call from the Chicago Blackhawks. And hes just fine with that.

Leddy, whos coming off a bronze-medal appearance with Team USA at the World Junior Championships, will be in the Blackhawks lineup when they host the Ottawa Senators tonight at the United Center. Leddy, who was paired with Jordan Hendry during morning skate, played in three early games when Brian Campbell was injured but spent a majority of this season with the Rockford IceHogs. He said the Rockford time has been beneficial.

It definitely helped a lot to get my legs under me and gain more confidence, he said. Ill just to keep it simple and play instinctive (tonight).

Leddy has two goals and eight assists in 22 games with the IceHogs. Quenneville said Leddy has gained experience and some size these past few months.

Hes played well there all year, hes progressed, hes even looked bigger to me off and on the ice, said Quenneville, who added Leddy could see some penalty-kill time. He played well when he was here earlier. I just think the consistency is something he added as he worked his way down (in Rockford).

Not stressing

Viktor Stalbergs latest run of tough luck hasnt gotten him down.

Its frustrating, these last three or four bounces. Everyone gets them. Ive just clogged mine up in one time period here, said Stalberg, who has six goals this season. Last year I probably would have (stressed). But you get a little more confidence in what youre dong this year, and coaches do, too. Hopefully when the first one goes in here itll keep coming.

The left wing was lined up with Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane this morning, a group that was together earlier this season.

I think there was something there (with that trio) and I think his speed is a great asset, Quenneville said of Stalberg. Hes also making inroads to improve the other parts of his game.

Briefly

Ryan Johnson, Nick Boynton and John Scott look to be tonights scratches.

Corey Crawford will get the start in goal.

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.