Reunited and it feels so good for Seabrook, Keith

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Reunited and it feels so good for Seabrook, Keith

On a couple of different occasions this year, longtime partners Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook have been split up by Blackhawks head coach Joel Quenneville.

The breakup was more to spread the wealth than it was for anything that was happening on the ice. With the impressive addition of Johnny Oduya at the trade deadline, the original plan from the coach was to pair the new guy with Seabrook. It looked great on paper until they were on the ice for all three first period goals by the Toronto Maple Leafs last Wednesday.

The partnership lasted all of 20 minutes, and it doesn't mean they won't be paired together again. But what it did do was force the coaching staff to reconfigure on the fly, and what's happened since then is three straight victories, allowing only three goals against in the last eight periods.

Which brings us back to the happy reunion of Keith and Seabrook.

There's a comfort level that exists between Keith and Seabrook. They are best friends off the ice, roommates on the road and one of the most formidable shutdown duos in the entire NHL on the ice.

They've basically been paired together since then-coach Trent Yawney put them together as rookies almost seven years ago. There's a comfort level and predictability you attain when playing with a partner for that long. A lot of their communication on the ice goes unsaid, they just know where the other guy will be at any time.

It's been been fun to watch these two defensemen grow the last seven years, and with the long-term contracts they both signed last year, Blackhawk fans will have the pleasure of watching these two for a long time to come.

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.