Playing overseas now on front burner for Toews

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Playing overseas now on front burner for Toews

Jonathan Toews has long been optimistic that at least some of the NHL season could be saved. But after Thursdays events in New York City, the Chicago Blackhawks captain isnt feeling the same.

And playing overseas has become a lot more likely.

Toews was part of talks in New York on Tuesday and part of Wednesday, back when things were going smoothly. But sometime Wednesday the mood change, and Thursday turned into an absolute mess of rejected proposals, items taken off tables and angry words.

Everyone talks about being optimistic but, really, what is there positive to take from whats gone on? Toews said Friday. Its unbelievable how hypocritical the leagues been in saying theyve tried so hard to make an effort to get a deal done when theyve pushed it this far to begin with. It doesnt matter what the players do, how much we sacrifice to make things happen. Its never been good enough.

The Hatfield-McCoy fracas between the NHL and NHLPA took its most bizarre twists on Thursday. Well summarize again in a nutshell: NHLPA director says the two sides are close and announces groups latest proposal. League rejects proposal via email. League commissioner blasts NHLPA and the were close talk. League deputy commissioner says some items were non-negotiable including those five-year player contract limits (the hill we will die on). Commissioner takes some items off the negotiating table.

Owners who had been meeting with players Tuesday and Wednesday, left on Thursday. Four of the owners released statements regarding the weeks talks.

Its all left Toews very frustrated.

Its mind-blowing that weve made it this far and their behavior hasnt changed one bit. Theyre great at trying to make (executive director Donald Fehr) and the players association look like the bad guys, he said. Theyre just trying to play any angle they can. So far, any angle weve had is to see and wait if the NHL wants to wait this long and they have. Im not too sure where we go from here.

Now Toews will look at where he goes from here. Fellow frustrated captain Sidney Crosby told Pittsburgh Post-Gazettes Dave Molinari that playing in Europe has moved to the front burner. Same go for Toews?

Absolutely it does, he said, adding that he doesnt have a specific location in mind yet. Its just sad in so many ways because your whole life you dream of playing in the NHL. You never dream that politics and things like this would get in the way of you playing and living out your dream. But thats obviously something you have to explore more at this point.

Blackhawks Talk Podcast: Expectations for John Hayden in the playoffs

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USA TODAY

Blackhawks Talk Podcast: Expectations for John Hayden in the playoffs

On this episode of the Blackhawks Talk Podcast, Tracey Myers and Pat Boyle breakdown Tuesday's controversial ending with Vancouver. They discuss whether Darling was interfered with on the game winning goal and did Toews deserve a penalty for running into Ryan Miller?

They also discuss the expectations for John Hayden and the tough lineup decisions at forward, that Joel Quenneville will have in the playoffs.

Tracey weighs in on who has been the more impressive goalie tandem, Crow and Emery in 2013 or this year's pair, Crow and Darling?

Listen to the full episode at this link or in the embedded player below:

Blackhawks want to finish strong while staying fresh for postseason

Blackhawks want to finish strong while staying fresh for postseason

Every team has goals it wants to hit at various parts of the season. At the start you want to be strong so you can save yourself a mad scramble to get into the postseason. In the middle, you want to just keep pace, get through that drudgery known as games 40-60.

But what about the end? If you're a playoff-bound team it's about reaching balance: you want to play your best hockey but also want to get your rest and conserve energy for the "next season."

The Blackhawks are in this mode right now. The postseason berth has been wrapped up. They've hit the 100-point mark and still maintain a six-point lead in the conference/division. So with nine games left the Blackhawks will try to get that overall play they had through most of February while being mindful of rest.

"We have [nine] to go and want to make sure we're fresh. At the same time, we want to be competitive," coach Joel Quenneville said. "We're looking to play games and in games, if we have a chance to back off a little bit, that'll be dictated by the score, the time of the game."

Entering their last two games trailing by two, the Blackhawks haven't had the chance to back off. They've had to do the opposite. Quenneville has said the team's four-line rotation, which was great in February, hasn't been there the past few games. Part of that could be due to injury. Artem Anisimov has missed the last three-plus games with a left-leg injury and is still expected to miss another 2-3 weeks. The Blackhawks have found ways to win despite that, but want to get back to more consistent hockey.

"Obviously we still want to try to win our division you want to be playing well," Brian Campbell said. "The last [few] games have been OK, spurts and stuff, so we want to ramp it up. There are some guys who can probably back off if they need or want to, there are those situations. It's a good situation to have. But this team's been around, they know how to prepare and get ready for it."

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So does Quenneville. We've reached that time of the season when the Blackhawks won't practice much, if at all. They're playing every other day and their morning skates are their versions of practice. As for in games, the Blackhawks know how to keep their energy up there, too.

"I think just playing good hockey and taking short shifts is key. You're not extending shifts to a minute and a half, two minutes," Ryan Hartman said. "You're conserving some long-term energy."

The Blackhawks are nearing the regular-season finish line but another race awaits them. They want to be ready for the postseason but they don't want to get too relaxed down the stretch.

"It's still the regular season. Nobody's taking the foot off the gas pedal. We're still trying to win hockey games and you want to come into the playoffs with a winning atmosphere and winning attitude," Hartman said. "Take every game one at a time and don't try to play conservative. Play good and winning hockey."