Young Hawks gearing up for season

915175.png

Young Hawks gearing up for season

Brandon Bollig and Andrew Shaw hit the ice early at Johnnys IceHouse West on Tuesday, joining fellow Chicago Blackhawks who have been skating here these past few months. The Rockford IceHogs forwards were told to get up to Chicago and get familiar with the players again.

For Bollig and Shaw, who spent most of the second half of the 2011-12 season with the Blackhawks, its a chance to get reacclimated. Because when the brief training camp starts, its going to be a fast and furious fight to grab a roster spot.

RELATED: Current, former Hawks ready to go as season returns

Yeah, especially with guys not playing as much as they usually would be during normal training camp, said Bollig. Its unfortunate the circumstances coming out of the offseason and not having a (normal) training camp. But if guys are lucky enough to be invited now, hopefully they can get it done and show what they have. Otherwise, its just part of being a pro to be prepared for whatever comes at you.

Shaw, Bollig and Marcus Kruger came up from Rockford on Wednesday and are likely to be here through the week to prep for training camp; NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly told several media outlets that training camps are likely to open on Sunday. Krugers spot is basically set. Shaw and Bollig certainly left their marks on the squad last season, but does that mean theyre guaranteed a spot this season?

MORE: Blackhawks feeling pressure of shortened season

Its likely a few others will get called up from Rockford before camp begins. Nick Leddy, whos established here already, should be back soon. And one would assume Brandon Saad and Ben Smith, who has the second-most points for the IceHogs (25), could get their opportunities.

Players who are vying for a spot will have to impress quick. But theres no doubt, with so much play in Rockford, theyll be competition ready.

Its been a great opportunity to play in the AHL, said Shaw, who has 14 points in 28 games this season. Weve stayed pretty focused down there. Coming up here, well push guys and theyll push us.

Said Bollig, theres no shape like game shape. I would think that most of us who have been playing feel pretty good.

Itll be interesting to see if any other players from Rockford come up to Chicago in the coming days. The IceHogs host Grand Rapids on Wednesday night Bollig, Shaw and Kruger are likely not playing in that game and the influx could increase after that.

Bollig and Shaw made some statements with their play last season. Thats likely to help them during this short camp.

Obviously its going to be a hectic time getting rosters set, Bollig said. It should be interesting, exciting to see whats going on.

Wake-up Call: Big Blackhawks deals on draft day; What to make of the Bulls rebuild?; Buehrle back in town; 'Up and down' Cubs

Wake-up Call: Big Blackhawks deals on draft day; What to make of the Bulls rebuild?; Buehrle back in town; 'Up and down' Cubs

Here are some of the top stories from a busy Friday in Chicago sports:

Saad Day: Blackhawks deal Artemi Panarin for familiar face

Blackhawks pull off stunner, trade Niklas Hjalmarsson to Coyotes

Bulls have emerged from a ball of confusion to parts unknown

Mark Buehrle confirms 'that' rumor from Game 3 of the 2005 World Series

This is the identity of the 2017 Cubs so far: 'Up and down, up and down'

Preview: Mark Buehrle Day on CSN

Preview: Fire get another shot against Orlando Saturday on CSN after recent draw

White Sox offense can't stay hot in loss to A's

Blackhawks trade back, select Henri Jokiharju at No. 29

Together again: Toews, Saad expect chemistry to return quickly

Together again: Toews, Saad expect chemistry to return quickly

Together again: Toews, Saad expect chemistry to return quickly

Brandon Saad talked to plenty of people after he was traded back to the Blackhawks. Some were now ex-teammates from the Columbus Blue Jackets. Others, soon-to-be-teammates again from the Blackhawks.

One of the first people he talked to on Friday? Jonathan Toews.

“He’s someone I talked to shortly after it happened. He’s a guy I’ve always kept in touch with, great friend,” Saad said. “To be reunited, getting that chance to play with him again, he’s an incredible player and his resume speaks for itself. I look forward to trying to rekindle that.”

The two didn’t lose touch the past two years. Now that they’ll be reunited on the ice, they hope they didn’t lose the chemistry either. Saad and Toews formed a great combination a few years ago, a steadiness that’s been missing from the top line, especially at left wing, ever since. With Saad’s return, however, the Blackhawks are looking to get that top line consistent again.

[MORE: Blackhawks trade back, select Henri Jokiharju at No. 29

Toews was at the NHL Draft on Friday night, announcing the Blackhawks’ first-round pick with Patrick Kane. The thought of getting Saad back on his left wing was appealing.

“Well there’s no doubt getting an old teammate, an old friend back, another guy who shared that same bond, friendship and having the experience of winning a Cup together with Saader. I guess there’s some reconciliation because you know what you’re getting,” Toews said. “You know what type of guy he is and how he’s going to fit into the locker room and what he’s going to bring.”

Blackhawks general manager Stan Bowman said via conference call today that, while Toews and Saad had great chemistry the first time around, Saad could fit with others. It all depends on what works best.

“That’s up to Joel [Quenneville] on where he wants to use him,” Bowman said. “No doubt they had tremendous chemistry; he found a home on Jonathan’s left wing. But the one thing I’m trying to stress to everyone, even internally, is we don’t want to look backward and replicate some old formula. He’s had great success with Jonathan and if they go back to that, great.”

Toews and Saad found their niche together pretty quickly the first time around. It’s only been two years since Saad departed, so finding that chemistry again shouldn’t take long at all.

“I don’t think so,” Toews said of chemistry taking long to rekindle. “You play at that caliber you just worry about your own game. Go out there and have fun. be prepared, be ready to roll and it shouldn’t take long for things to happen out there.”