Injuries, competition could lead to busy off-ice weekend

681652.png

Injuries, competition could lead to busy off-ice weekend

Its already going to be a busy weekend for the Blackhawks, who will have back-to-back road games against the Los Angeles Kings and Anaheim Ducks.

But could results around the league make for a busy trading weekend? And if so, will the Blackhawks be part of it?

The Blackhawks players have enough to think about with their on-ice task, games against a Los Angeles team that just pulled off a big trade and an Anaheim squad thats not completely out of playoff contention just yet. The Blackhawks are focused on their own situation foremost, with just 20 games remaining in their regular season. Sitting in sixth place with 73 points and with teams pushing at them, the Blackhawks know every point is critical.

The next (game) is the most important one, and thats the way it is from here on out, Patrick Sharp said Thursday night, after the Blackhawks squandered a chance to pick up one or two points against the Dallas Stars.

The Blackhawks tough weekend task is made tougher since theyre missing Jonathan Toews, Niklas Hjalmarsson and Steve Montador for both. None traveled with the Blackhawks when they headed to Los Angeles this afternoon. If the Blackhawks can conjure up the game they played against Detroit, theyll be just fine this weekend. The team-first mentality got the through that, got them two points.

And as the team works on how to beat the Kings and Ducks, general manager Stan Bowman has his own decisions to make. Hes said he wants a defenseman, and he has until 2 p.m. CST Monday to find one. One would expect action to pick up this weekend on the trade front. Some dominoes have already fallen, as Kyle Quincey was traded to the Detroit Red Wings and Jeff Carter was acquired by Los Angeles for defenseman Jack Johnson, whos headed to Columbus.

Bowman also mentioned a while back a potential trade for a center. With Toews out, does that need grow? Toews is officially listed as day to day, and could be suffering concussion-like symptoms. He could be back by Monday. He could be out longer. And missing Toews for any amount of time is tough. Will the Blackhawks make getting a center a higher priority now?

Its going to be a busy weekend, one way or the other for the Blackhawks. They need points, need to keep pace with an ever tightening Western Conference what coach Joel Quenneville calls, the amazing race. Theyll have to collect them through this recent rash of injuries.

Bowman could do something over the weekend to help alleviate the struggle.

Kevin Dineen to stay on Blackhawks' staff as Avalanche hire Jared Bednar

Kevin Dineen to stay on Blackhawks' staff as Avalanche hire Jared Bednar

The Blackhawks' coaching staff will be intact for the 2016-17 season.

Two weeks after Patrick Roy abruptly resigned as head coach, the Colorado Avalanche officially picked Jared Bednar to be his replacement over Blackhawks assistant Kevin Dineen, who was among the favorites for the coaching vacancy.

[SHOP: Get your Blackhawks gear here]

Bednar has no National Hockey League coaching experience, but did guide the Columbus Blue Jackets' American Hockey League affiliate to a 15-2 postseason record last season en route to the franchise's first Calder Cup championship.

Retaining Dineen is good news for the Blackhawks, who start training camp next month, but it goes without saying that Dineen is certainly deserving of a second crack at a head coaching position in the near future.

Dineen, Mike Kitchen and head coach Joel Quenneville will enter their third season together after helping the Blackhawks capture a Stanley Cup in their first year as a group in 2015.

Jonathan Toews named Team Canada alternate captain for World Cup of Hockey

Jonathan Toews named Team Canada alternate captain for World Cup of Hockey

Jonathan Toews was named alternate captain of Team Canada on Thursday for the upcoming World Cup of Hockey.

Sidney Crosby was named Team Canada’s captain. Crosby, who claimed his second Stanley Cup in June, was also Team Canada’s captain en route to the gold medal at the 2014 Olympic Winter Games.

[SHOP: Buy a Jonathan Toews jersey]

Toews, who has been the Blackhawks’ captain since the 2008-09 season, was also alternate captain of Canada’s 2014 Olympic squad. Shea Weber of the Montreal Canadiens will serve as Team Canada’s other alternate captain.

Duncan Keith won't play for Team Canada in World Cup of Hockey

Duncan Keith won't play for Team Canada in World Cup of Hockey

Duncan Keith will not be part of the Blackhawks’ World Cup of Hockey contingent after all.

Keith will focus on improving his health rather than play for Team Canada in the tournament, which takes place next month in Toronto. The Blackhawks released a statement regarding Keith on Wednesday afternoon.

"As Duncan continues offseason rehabilitation on the right knee injury that he sustained last season, we understand his decision not to participate in next month’s World Cup of Hockey," team physician Dr. Michael Terry said in the statement. "We believe it is in his best interests to focus on getting stronger and not risk further injury."

Keith had surgery on that knee last October and was sidelined about one month.

St. Louis Blues defenseman Jay Bouwmeester will take Keith’s place.