Blackhawks to institute 'fan initiatives'


Blackhawks to institute 'fan initiatives'

As the lockout came to its merciful end late Saturday night, the focus was back on hockey, back on training camps and upcoming regular-season schedules.

And for many teams front offices, its also about mending fences with fans who were frustrated, disillusioned and downright angry with four NHL-free months. On Sunday, Blackhawks president John McDonough said the team was looking at ways to help bridge that gap again.

McDonough said the team is developing some fan initiatives, and that they will be unveiled later this week. McDonough joined general manager Stan Bowman and coach Joel Quenneville at a press conference today, opening day of the Blackhawks brief training camp.

There are some fan initiatives that will be introduced later in the week, some things were tying up right now. (Executive vice president Jay Blunk) and his group have been working on it for weeks and we think its a very good plan, said McDonough, who didnt divulge details past that.

Several other NHL teams have already installed fan incentives. The Pittsburgh Penguins are offering free select concession items and half off all merchandise at their first four home games. Bruins fans can get free vouchers for various concession, as well as 25 percent off team merchandise 30 percent for season ticket-holders during January home games.

McDonough said the waiting list for season tickets rose by 250. He added that the Blackhawks werent overwhelmed by fan anger during the lockout. But, for those who are upset, were going to do whatever we can to win them back.

The Blackhawks fan base likely didnt take too big of a hit, season ticket wait-list boost aside. But there are hurt feelings nonetheless from the lockout, and the team hopes to ease some of that angst this week.

Its important to us to make sure that we give our fan base a real purpose. Its based on a commitment of consistent excellent and doing everything we can to put a winning team on the ice. But there are certainly other things well be doing later this week to announce a further fan commitment.

Blackhawks Talk Podcast: Special teams struggles continue

Blackhawks Talk Podcast: Special teams struggles continue

Pat Boyle, Jamal Mayers and Tracey Myers discuss the Blackhawks' penalty kill woes in the latest installment of the Blackhawks Talk Podcast. 

They also break down the defensive pairings and Joel Quenneville's coaching after seven games. 

Check out the latest episode of the Blackhawks Talk Podcast below: 

Artem Anisimov collecting points but knows faceoffs need to improve

Artem Anisimov collecting points but knows faceoffs need to improve

It took a little bit for Artem Anisimov to get going this season.

Much like the second line overall, he wasn’t making an immediate impact or collecting many points. Oh, how things have changed in a week or two.

Now if he can get his face-off victories on the same level as his production, he’ll be happy.

Anisimov, who was named the NHL’s second star for last week, continued his point-scoring run with an assist in the Blackhawks’ 3-2 shootout loss to the Calgary Flames on Monday night. Entering Tuesday’s games, Anisimov is one of four players with a league-best nine points.

“It was a very good week,” said Anisimov, whose focus quickly turned to the Blackhawks. “But we need to play better as a team. Better on the [penalty kill], better on the power play, too. Just play better.”

Anisimov wasn’t giving himself too much credit so Patrick Kane, the beneficiary of Anisimov’s assist on Monday, did.

“He made a great pass to me. Not that he didn’t do that last year. He was there, but sometimes we’d score a goal, he’d be the third assist or the guy in front of the net creating traffic and could be the biggest reason we score,” Kane said. “Good to see him get the points and get the recognition, for sure.”

[SHOP BLACKHAWKS: Get your Blackhawks gear right here]

Now, about those faceoffs. After winning 44.2 percent of his faceoffs last season, Anisimov has won just 35 percent so far this season. As soon as the subject came up, Anisimov shook his head in frustration.

“The faceoff situation. It’s not great, actually. I try to do so many things right now but it doesn’t work,” he said. “You have so many different things. Try to worry about the opponent, how they do it, and not focus on myself. I just need to focus on myself and what I’m doing. keep working.”

Jonathan Toews is by far the Blackhawks’ faceoff man right now; he’s winning 60.8 percent of the time. Marcus Kruger is at 50 percent. The Blackhawks as a team are 29th in the NHL in faceoffs won in the offensive zone (42.5 percent), 27th overall in faceoffs (46.6 percent). Coach Joel Quenneville needs the team, including Anisimov, to be better in that department.

“We started off in a tough area – across the board except for Jonny – where we’re starting against it, chasing the puck and a lot of times we’re out there in the offensive zone and we don’t get that pressure, sustain offensive zone time or puck possession time. That’s an area where we’d like to get 50-50 or close to that and get a little help along the lines as well,” Quenneville said. “That’s definitely area where we need [Anisimov] to get better and get a little stronger, and [have] an awareness to what the opponents are doing or how the officials are dropping it as well. We have to get better.”

Anisimov has gotten his production going. He’d like to do the same with his faceoffs. Much like his scoring, he knows getting confidence in faceoffs could turn things around.

“Of course, yes,” he said. “I just need to straighten out a couple more games in the faceoffs and it’ll build confidence. Just build confidence.”