Hawks' interest in Brodeur shows concern with Crawford

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Hawks' interest in Brodeur shows concern with Crawford

The Chicago Blackhawks were one of several teams inquiring about future Hall-of-Fame goaltender Martin Brodeur when the free-agency period opened on Sunday. They have their goaltending concerns, obviously, after Corey Crawfords rocky sophomore season. You dont ask about any other goaltender and a 40-year-old goaltender, to boot if youre not a little worried about your situation.

But as Sunday night drew to a close, it appeared that Brodeurs test of the free-agency waters didnt make it out of the shallow end.

Darren Dreger of TSN.ca reported late Sunday that the Devils were offering Brodeur a two-year deal. Its a chance for Brodeur to finish his career as a Devil, and if he accepts the deal it would be a somewhat expected conclusion.

Which brings us back to the Blackhawks goaltending. I asked general manager Stan Bowman about Crawford when the GMs met briefly in New York during the Stanley Cup Finals. Did he believe Crawford could return to rookie-year glory this season?

Obviously, (his two seasons) were two polar opposites, Bowman said then. The year before, we don t make the playoffs without him. He played over 30 games in a row that year (regular season and playoffs) and I dont think he had a bad game in the 30. This year he just wasnt consistent. Now the question is, which one is the reality?

Ive said this a lot: Guys dont lose their ability over the summer. I dont think he lost the ability to play goalie. I think its a mental thing more than anything, Bowman continued. Your skills dont erode. Its not like hes an older guy; hes not injured. Those would all be concerns if he was 39 or had a big injury. Then you say, What happened to him? Its more the mental side.

Bowman said other goaltenders have gone through their early career struggles before rebounding. A good case in point is Mike Smith, who was an up-and-coming goaltender with Dallas, struggled for several years in Tampa Bay, then was the Phoenix Coyotes star last season.

Bowman said the Blackhawks are hoping Crawford relocates his game like others have.

Does it mean he will? Not necessarily. But chances are hell follow that trajectory, he said. Our goalie coach (Stephane Waite) will spend some time with him, prepare him, break down his season. There was a lot of work behind the scenes, but you still have to stop the puck. Were optimistic, though, that hes going to get it turned around.

Optimistic? Yes. Is it a certainty? Nothing ever is.

The Blackhawks need to be better around Crawford, particularly on defense. But ultimately, its about Crawford stopping the puck. And if the goalie situation remains the same heading into this season, Crawford has to conjure up the play of his rookie season.

Bears QB Mike Glennon makes his role emphatically clear: ‘This year is my year’

Bears QB Mike Glennon makes his role emphatically clear: ‘This year is my year’

Mike Glennon stuck to an emphatic mantra during his first meeting with the media since the Bears drafted Mitch Trubisky last month: “This year is my year.”

It wasn’t a surprising line — what else was he supposed to say? — but it was telling in the sense that Glennon didn’t appear to be rattled by the presence of Trubisky, the franchise’s presumptive quarterback of the future. Unofficially, Glennon said some version of that line a dozen times in just over 10 minutes. 

“They brought me here to be the quarterback this year and nothing has changed,” Glennon said. “So in my mind, I have to go out and play well, and I know that, and that’s basically the bottom line.”

Will Glennon work with Trubisky, the No. 2 overall pick and presumptive quarterback of the future? Yes. But is that his main focus? No. The job of developing Trubisky falls on offensive coordinator Dowell Loggains and quarterbacks coach Dave Ragone, not the guy who the Bears committed tens of millions of dollars to to play quarterback. 

Glennon said general manager Ryan Pace called him about 10 minutes after Roger Goodell announced Trubisky’s name in Philadelphia April 27 to reassure him that he would still be the Bears’ starting quarterback in 2017. Like most everyone — including Trubisky — Glennon was surprised the Bears made the pick, but the 27-year-old said he quickly re-trained his attention back on preparing for the upcoming season. 

“I’m not worried about the future,” Glennon said. “I’m not worried about the past. I’m worried about the present and right now this is my team and that’s where my focus is.”

Glennon’s three-year, $45 million deal is structured so the Bears could cut him after the 2017 season and absorb only a $2.5 million cap hit, $500,000 more than the team took on when Jay Cutler was released in March. His contract was set up that way before the Bears snuck into Chapel Hill, N.C. for a surreptitious dinner and workout with Trubisky — he’s a bridge quarterback with an opportunity to show he’s greater than that label. 

“Even if I were to (look in hindsight) I would still have came here,” Glennon said. “Like I said, this is my year. There are no guarantees in the NFL. The majority of guys in the NFL are playing year-to-year. I’m here to prove myself that I can me the quarterback this year and going forward. But right now my focus is on winning games this year.”

“… I can only say it so many times, this year has been fully communicated that it's my year,” Glennon said. “I’m not going to worry about the future. As long as I play well, it will all work out.’ 

In wake of first-round playoff sweep, Patrick Kane talks about the Blackhawks' 'reality check'

In wake of first-round playoff sweep, Patrick Kane talks about the Blackhawks' 'reality check'

It’s been just over a month since the Blackhawks were eliminated from the playoffs in swift fashion. And as Patrick Kane told WGN Radio on Tuesday morning, the bitter taste hasn’t gone away.

“I think a lot of us didn’t figure we’d be in the situation we’re in right now,” Kane told Steve Cochran and Dave Eanet on Tuesday. “All of us can work this offseason to get better. It’s a long time to wait to get back to that opportunity to play in the playoffs again, so we’ll have a sour taste in our mouth for a while.”

The Nashville Predators, who made quick work of the Blackhawks in the first round, eliminated the Anaheim Ducks on Monday night to earn the first Stanley Cup Final appearance in franchise history. Kane told WGN he’s been watching the playoffs and said Nashville “has a pretty good system going.”

“They come at you, they play aggressive. I don’t think any of us would be a big fan of the way they defend in the neutral zone, just sitting back and playing that 1-3-1. But at the same time they come at you,” said Kane, who added that the Blackhawks “weren’t even close in that (first-round) series.”

“Maybe we had a chance in Game 3 when we were up 2-0, but it was a clean sweep and that’s probably how it should’ve been,” he said. “So now it’s time to regroup.”

When the Blackhawks had their wrap-up media session on April 22, general manager Stan Bowman was asked if some players, having won three Stanley Cups since 2010, had lost some of the hunger. Bowman didn’t buy that and neither did Kane.

“Four sounds a lot better than three, right?” he said. “It’s a long time away and a lot of work, but sometimes you go through those situations and you realize you won three Cups and it’s almost like you’re going to be there again. That’s where the reality check is for us now, realizing how hard it is to get back in that situation, how hard it is to win a Cup or go deep in this league. There’s a lot of work to be done.”