McDonough never lost faith in Coach Q, proud of Hawks

717654.png

McDonough never lost faith in Coach Q, proud of Hawks

When the Chicago Blackhawks went through their awful nine-game winless streak through late January and early February, the sky was falling through the world of fandom and knee-jerk reactionary sports blogs.

Fire this guy, fire that guy, trade somebody, do something now. And as unpleasant as it all was, the team president said he had faith that the guys in charge, and the guys playing for them, would get through it.

Blackhawks president John McDonough said there was never a thought of getting rid of coach Joel Quenneville or trading anyone during the losing streak. And hes proud of how the Blackhawks came out of that mess to be back in the playoff race.

Absolutely not, McDonough said. We have great confidence in Joel. Hes been through these things before and won two Stanley Cups (one as an assistant with the Colorado Avalanche). Ive been in sports for 32 years; weve seen these losing streaks. Theyre not a lot of fun to go through but good teams figure a way to come out of them, which we did. Im proud of the organization. Theres no panic button here.

McDonough credited Joel with his work, as well as Stan Bowman. The general managers move to acquire defenseman Johnny Oduya at the trade deadline has paid big dividends, balancing a defense corps and giving it another needed veteran presence.

And McDonoughs also impressed with how the Blackhawks have fared without Jonathan Toews; the team is now 11-5-2 without their captain.

Im really proud of how they responded. Its a challenge to be without your captain for close to 20 games, but it speaks to the depth of the organization, the job Joel and the staff has done, the pickup that Stan made with Johnny Oduya. We still have a little ways to go, want to get that playoff berth nailed down ad hopefully that happens soon.

The playoffs are close to the Blackhawks grasp. McDonough said there was no doubt the team was going to stay the course, losing streak or not. And even if the Blackhawks go on a short playoff run, he doesnt foresee changes.

The knee-jerk reactions remain well outside the front-office walls.

Weve all been through this before. We have a very good team from top to bottom and we have one of the premiere coaches, McDonough said. Joel Quenneville has more wins than any active NHL coach. Were proud of what hes done here in Chicago, but we all had conversations on how to get out of it. The time and effort everyone put into that is really laudable.

As questions about his future remain, David Accam is in his best run with the Fire

As questions about his future remain, David Accam is in his best run with the Fire

For the past two seasons, David Accam was a bright spot on bad Chicago Fire teams.

This season, with more talent on the roster, Accam has blossomed into one of the most dangerous players in the league.

He had a hat trick and an assist in Saturday’s 4-0 win against Orlando. That gives him 10 goals and six assists on the season. Only two other players in Major League Soccer have 16 combined goals and assists, New York City FC's David Villa and teammate Nemanja Nikolic (the leading goal-scorer in the league).

“I thought I could do anything on the pitch today,” Accam said. “I just wanted to enjoy myself and entertain the fans and also help the team win. That’s what we did today, especially after my first goal. I just thought I could get more goals and also help the team win.”

Accam’s big game comes after he sat out the previous two games, which were both played on turf. He wasn’t listed on the injury report, but coach Veljko Paunovic said, “he didn’t recover from the physical issues that he had in the previous game.”

The rest seemed to do Accam some good, but his success in the game (as well as his recent run of eight goals and four assists in his last eight matches) coincides with questions about his future. He was recently rumored to be the target of a Turkish club.

In the past, Accam has spoken about his ambition to play at the highest levels. Typically, that means Europe. General manager Nelson Rodriguez said last month that he expects offers to come in for the 26-year-old because he is a good player in his prime ages.

So is Accam playing like someone trying to earn a new contract? That could be either impressing potential suitors in Europe or boosting his negotiation position with the Fire. Rodriguez has talked about contract negotiations with Accam before, and said those will not resume again until after the season.

“I wanted to be in a team where I would develop as a person and also win trophies, whether here or somewhere (else) I don’t know,” Accam said. “For me, I’m doing really well here and every year if I keep playing well there will be always interest. I know there is a lot of interest because I’m doing well. For me it’s always extra motivation to keep doing well. You don’t know where I will end up, whether here or somewhere else. I’ll just keep playing.”

Accam’s play earned him another call-up to the Ghanaian national team. He will join the team on Sunday for a pair of friendlies in the U.S. The Black Stars will take on Mexico in Houston on June 28 and the U.S. in East Hartford, Conn., on July 1 as the two North American countries prepare for the Gold Cup.

“That’s where I want to be,” Accam said. “I want to be playing for the national team so it’s extra motivation for me to perform well and also to go to the national team.”

Accam has been one of the most productive players in MLS this year, based on goals and assists, and is young enough to draw the attention of plenty of teams. For now, the Fire have him as a key part of the best season the club has had in years.

“I think that he understands very well how to play with the team that we have now and with the teammates that he is surrounded with,” coach Veljko Paunovic said. “We just have to work to give David opportunities… Then we expect that performances like that will come even more.”

Wake-up Call: Mark Buehrle goes down in White Sox history

Wake-up Call: Mark Buehrle goes down in White Sox history

Watch Mark Buehrle's jersey retirement speech

Blackhawks notebook: A busy draft, free agency and RFAs

Anthony Rizzo won’t get ‘Wally Pipped’ out of Cubs leadoff spot

How a fan's kind gesture surprised Mark Buehrle on his big day

Fire dominant against Orlando for seventh straight home win

Blackhawks 2017 NHL Draft capsules: Scouting reports and analysis

Ben Zobrist doubtful for Nationals showdown and where things stand with banged-up Cubs

White Sox upset by the call that led to ejections of Todd Frazier, Rick Renteria

Preview: Cubs battle Marlins Sunday on CSN

It sure sounds like Jimmy Butler regrets being labeled as the face of the Bulls franchise