Even after last week's turn of events, Fehr still hopeful

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Even after last week's turn of events, Fehr still hopeful

Donald Fehr concluded his speech with a bit of an icebreaker.
If anyone has a brilliant idea on how to solve the lockout, dont keep it to yourself, Fehr said when he addressed the Canadian Auto Workers in Toronto on Saturday. We express hope that were able to find a way through this and get the guys back on the ice sooner rather than later.
Fehr said the two sides were close to doing that on Thursday; but after a bizarre series of events and NHL commissioner Gary Bettman denying that, talks broke off. But on Saturday, Fehr reiterated that he believes the players and league are close to a deal.
I think were very close, he told reporters following his speech. But you have to keep talking. So far theyre unwilling to do it.
As for the possibility of decertification, Fehr said, thats always an option and it has been exercised in other sports. Beyond that, I cant comment.
The league and players association left Thursday on a nasty note. A visibly angry Bettman said the two sides were not close to a deal, that the league would not budge on certain items including five-year player contract limits and that no further talks were planned.
Deputy commissioner Bill Daly, in an email to the Associated Press on Friday, said, I have no reason, nor any intention of reaching out to the union right now. I have no new ideas. Maybe they do. We are happy to listen.
Former Blackhawks defenseman Chris Campoli said the union remains very strong.
Dons our guy, our leader and we believe in him, he said. The last few years the associations come a long way in restoring respectability. Theres not going to be a deal without him there. He has the complete backing of our membership.
It was an interesting week, folks, no doubt. And while I rarely interject opinion into stories notice I didnt say Twitter Im going to now. I do believe the two sides are close. And I still believe a deal will be done. I said from the start that I thought theyd be playing some time in December or January, and I will go down swinging with that.
If Im wrong, Im wrong. Ill just add it to the tote board.

Blackhawks' Jonathan Toews named NHL's second star of the week

Blackhawks' Jonathan Toews named NHL's second star of the week

Jonathan Toews was named the NHL's second star for the week ending Feb. 26 after recording four goals and five assists in three games, all of which resulted in Blackhawks wins.

The 28-year-old captain kicked off the week with a hat trick and five-point effort in a 5-3 win over the Minnesota Wild, then followed that up with two assists in a 6-3 victory over the Arizona Coyotes. 

He wrapped up the week by scoring a goal and adding an assist in a 4-2 win over the St. Louis Blues to extend his point streak to six games. He has five goals and eight assists during that span.

Toews now ranks third on the team with 46 points and is tied for fifth with 16 goals.

Nashville Predators winger Filip Forsberg (eight goals and two assists in four games) and Calgary Flames winger Johnny Gaudreau (two goals and six assists in four games) were named the first and third stars, respectively.


In midst of career season, Artem Anisimov still not satisfied with overall game

In midst of career season, Artem Anisimov still not satisfied with overall game

In terms of points this season, Artem Anisimov is closing in on some career numbers.

His goal against the St. Louis Blues on Sunday night was his 22nd of the season, tying a career best set with the Columbus Blue Jackets in 2013-14. One more point and he'll equal his career best (44) in that department from 2010-11, when he was with the New York Rangers.

And all of this is with 20 games remaining in the regular season. So is this Anisimov's best career regular season?

"Ah, no," Anisimov said recently. "Close to it, but not good enough."

Anisimov would list a few things he still needs to improve upon – we'll get to that later – but even "close," Anisimov has had another strong season for the Blackhawks, once again centering Artemi Panarin and Patrick Kane. It's easy to focus on those two wings, given their dazzling play-making ability. But every line needs at least one blue-collar guy, the one who does more of the dirty work and perhaps takes the punishment in front of the net.

For the second consecutive season, that second-line guy is Anisimov, and his net-front play, especially, has led to more production this season.

"Arty's a smart player. He knows getting there, there [are] rewards for being around the net," coach Joel Quenneville said. "He finds his positioning. Sometimes he gets there at the right time and his arrival times are due to his anticipation with his wingers. [It's] the willingness; there's some abuse you have to take over the course of a regular season and it doesn't distract Arty from getting there."

Anisimov's game-winner against the Blues came the way so many others have this season: around the net. This one was off a slick pass from Panarin. Be it scoring goals like that, limiting a goaltender's vision or cleaning up rebounds, Anisimov's net-front presence has been steady. 

"He's coming up with pucks, gets those loose pucks to Kaner and Bread Man and they do their thing and create some magic there. Or you have Arty in front and you have Kaner and Bread doing their thing back and forth across the zone and you have that big body in front," Ryan Hartman said. "It makes it difficult, and not just when one of them are shooting. Sometimes the goalie can't see the pass because Arty's there and it's really deceptive and a big part of our team."

So the production has been there, no doubt. But where does Anisimov feel he's lacking?

"I just need to improve in all aspects: skating, back check, forecheck, stick position," Anisimov said. "All the little things have to be a little bit better."

Most players are never satisfied with where their games are. They're always looking to improve. Anisimov will keep working on what he thinks are some deficiencies but his constant net-front presence has filled what used to be an issue for the Blackhawks.