Chicago Blackhawks

Tkachuk: Q's my favorite coach ever

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Tkachuk: Q's my favorite coach ever

Keith Tkachuk doesnt get a chance to see coach Joel Quenneville as much as hed like, but he still remembers their days together in St. Louis.

Hes still my favorite coach ever, said Tkachuk, who was inducted into the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame on Monday night. He was just a great coach to play for, very down to earth.

As Tkachuk reflected on his career and the state of U.S. hockey, he also had some kind words for his former coach. Quenneville coached the Blues from 1996-2004, with Tkachuk playing there from 2000-07 and again from 2007-10. Tkachuk said it was tough to see Quenneville get fired when it happened.

He did a lot of great things in St. Louis, Tkachuk said. You ask any player whos played for him; they love playing for him. He loves to coach. Hes not over-demanding about practices but when its time to do you work you better do it.

Quenneville said Sunday night that Tkachuk was a pleasure to coach.

Walt was an amazing player, he said. Ive never been around a guy who went through a defense or holes like he did. He was a big part of our success in St. Louis.

Tkachuks allegiance is obviously still with the Blues; he retired with them in April of 2010 and he and his family still live near the city. He loves that the Blackhawks-Blues rivalry is still strong and likely to get an even bigger boost from realignment.

Youll see those two fighting it out at the end for the division title, no question about it, Tkachuk said. Theyre two great young teams and obviously theres always been that bitter taste with not just hockey but in all the sports between St. Louis and Chicago. Im looking forward to that next game they play.

Could Hobey Baker winner Will Butcher be an option for Blackhawks?

Could Hobey Baker winner Will Butcher be an option for Blackhawks?

The calendar is quickly approaching August and a majority of the NHL's top free agents have already signed new deals or found new homes. But there's one marquee player who has suddenly shaken loose, and will surely draw heavy interest across the league.

That would be 22-year-old defenseman Will Butcher, who informed the Colorado Avalanche that he will hit the open market and become an unrestricted free agent on Aug. 15.

Butcher, a 2013 fifth-round draft pick, was named the recipient of the 2017 Hobey Baker Award, annually given to college hockey's top player, after scoring seven goals and 30 assists in 43 games during his senior campaign while helping Denver University capture its first national title since 2005. It's the second straight year NCAA's top player has elected not to sign with the club that drafted him, with Jimmy Vesey doing the same last year when he signed with the New York Rangers instead of the Nashville Predators.

So could Butcher be a real option for the Blackhawks? There's certainly a reason for both sides to be intrigued by a potential match. 

With Brian Campbell, Niklas Hjalmarsson and Johnny Oduya no longer in the picture, the Blackhawks could use a young, NHL-ready blue liner with top-four potential and Butcher provides just that.

He's a 5-foot-10, 186-pound puck-moving defenseman with high offensive upside but also plays a solid two-way game and is responsible in his own end. He carries a left-handed shot, quarterbacked Denver's No. 1 power play unit and possesses strong leadership skills after serving as the team's captain for two years.

While he is certainly no sure thing, Butcher would be as close to pro ready as any prospect in Chicago's system and could factor into the cards as soon as this season. It also doesn't hurt that he shared the same blue line at Denver as Blackhawks prospect Blake Hillman, who drew great reviews from Joel Quenneville at prospect camp.

The good news for the cap-crunched Blackhawks is that the maximum allowable salary for an entry-level contract is $925,000, so that eliminates the possibility of getting into a bidding war with other teams. Signing and performance bonuses can still be included, but that's the least of their worries if they can land a player of Butcher's caliber.

His decision will really come down to best fit and opportunity to play and win, and the Blackhawks can offer all of the above.

Niklas Hjalmarsson says goodbye to Chicago in emotional Instagram post

Niklas Hjalmarsson says goodbye to Chicago in emotional Instagram post

Niklas Hjalmarsson has called Chicago home ever since he was drafted by the Blackhawks in 2005. But now it's time for a new chapter.

After being traded to the Arizona Coyotes in June, the former Blackhawks defenseman officially said goodbye to the city he spent a decade in and helped bring three Stanley Cups to with an emotional Instagram post that perfectly sums up his time here:

One marriage. Two kids. Three rings. 

Hjalmarsson will forever hold a special place in the hearts of Blackhawks fans.