Chicago Blackhawks- 2014 Prospect camp opens tomorrow

Chicago, IL — This is my favorite time of the off season. Yes even more than NHL free agency. This is the time when dreams and hopes are transcended into NHL realities and destinies are forged. All that sacrifice and dedication is on the brink of paying dividends for these young men and their families.

Never has it been more imperative for the Chicago Blackhawks to have a strong amateur pipeline as it is now in the cap era and to develop young players into NHLers who one day maybe have their names engraved on a Stanley Cup. There is plenty of work to be done though first.

There are some coming in undrafted and unsigned, some currently on the Hawks’ AHL affiliated Rockford IceHogs, some still in college and some coming from overseas. Wherever their origins, they all have one common goal, that their destination will ultimately be the same-the NHL.

on the knee

Returning are 2011 prospects, Phillip Danault, Mark McNeill, Adam Clendening, Garrett Ross, Alex Broadhurst, Kent Simpson & 2010 draft goalie Mac Carruth along with a prospect that needs no introduction 2012 first round pick Teuvo Teravainen.

All have made the jump to the professional level whether at the AHL level or abroad which would lead one to the logical conclusion that they are the next to make the jump to the big club if not this year than very soon but they are all young with some learning yet to do which is the point of these camps. Lets take a look at the Hawks near future.

Phillip Danault – Forward – There is no question about his leadership and work ethic it is way up the charts if not off the charts. He is also flexible in that he can play either wing or center. Danault’s defensive play and penalty kill abilities may very well be NHL ready right now where Danault needs work is in the offensive zone. This year the IceHogs coaching staff needs to put Danault in all situations to get him ready including power plays. Danault needs to learn to get to the net and shoot from any angle if passes are not available. I mean it works for someone wearing 88 and if it’s good enough for him. This year in Rockford will be crucial for Danault who could project to be either a 2nd or 3rd line center.


Mark McNeill – Forward – no question McNeill is physically ready for the NHL and projects to be a power forward that can crush you along the boards. Like Danault, McNeill can play both wing and center. Where McNeill needs work is in his on ice focus which will be important in making the Hawks as coach Quenneville is always looking for his club to skate with a purpose. When in the offensive zone McNeill just needs to open up ice for himself and teammates in the defensive zone put the body on someone and close gaps. McNeill could very well make the Hawks this year.

Adam Clendening – Defensman – Clendening is an offensive defenseman that is a great skater and puck mover and we all know how much the Hawks value those attributes. He also is very good at quarterbacking power plays. The weakness of Clendening is in the defensive zone he can sometimes get knocked off the puck which if he is to make the Hawks needs to be addressed. It will be interesting to see him battle it out with Klas Dahlbeck and Stephen Johns for a spot on the Hawks blue line and which one will get the call first.

Teuvo Teravainen – forward – It has been well documented all of Teuvo’s talents and skills of which there are many. Teuvo has a maturity beyond his years and skills wise is NHL ready the only thing holding him back is getting used to the North American hockey game and his physical stamina. Most do however expect that Teuvo will be on the Hawks roster by the end of the regular season and I’m in that camp as well. Like Danault and McNeill he can play either wing or center. I still can’t even fathom a line with him, Kane and Saad on it but if Teuvo develops the way he is projected that is a definite possible reality.

Mac Carruth – goalie – Carruth physically reminds one of Corey Crawford. He is a big athletic goalie. Carruth also has some bite to his game and is not opposed to moving out forwards. He is feisty which should endear him to the IceHog faithful. I will be keeping an eye on him to see about his positioning and angles. Carruth could be a hidden diamond in the rough.


Eyes ON

Who I’m going to keep eyes on as well in camp are first round forward picks from 2013 & 2014 Illinois native Ryan Hartman and Wisconsin native Nick Schmaltz. Stephen Johns, Vinny Hinostroza, Trevor Van Riemsdyk & Dillion Fournier.

Vinny Hinstroza like Teravainen will surely wow the crowd with his offensive playmaking skills. He is a hard worker and battles hard. Ryan Hartman came on last year in Rockford and seemed to click with Phillip Danault late in the season. Hartman has bite to his game ala Andrew Shaw.

Stephen Johns is a defensive defenseman ala Brent Seabrook, complete with the size and physical game. He like Seabrook also has a great outlet pass to his teammates and does not mind delivering big time hits to the opposition. He also has a wicked shot from the point. Since the Hawks lack size it will be interesting to see if Johns in fact makes the Hawks this year. His weakness is sometimes he gets out of defensive positioning in trying to deliver big hits so I will be focusing on this in camp.

Trevor Van Riemsdyk is an interesting case. Yes he is one of those Van Riemsdyks, brother to JVR he was picked up by the Hawks and signed. Van Riemsdyk only played in 26 games with the Univ of NH due to an ankle injury but tallied 23 points and was a +13. This kid could be a steal for the Hawks. His skating like JVR’s is very good.

How Swede it is

We wouldn’t be at a Blackhawks camp if we did not have a great skating compliment of Swedes and this year is no different. I’m keeping a look out for Dennis Rasmussen, Carl Dahlstom, Robin Norell, Fredrik Olofsson.

I mainly though will be looking at Dennis Rasmussen who the Hawks signed as a free agent from the Sweden pro team Växjö of the Swedish Hockey League. He is 24 years old and should be NHL ready. He just needs to get used to the North American style hockey game. He is a big center at 6’3” and has good skating skills.

Youth is the hope of us seeing a better humanity reflected. The Blackhawks are hoping that they have talents waiting to explode and hidden gems waiting to be polished by the right instruction. The Blackhawks are looking to these youths as their future. These prospects are looking to make their futures now.

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Chicago Blackhawks’ Monument men – Toews and Kane

Chicago, IL – Well for eight more years Chicago gets to eat it’s steak and crème brulee too when the Chicago Blackhawks inked Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane to long term contracts that will keep the Blackhawks as Stanley Cup contenders for years to come and Hawks fans are very happy.

There is no question that both of them deserved their contracts after turning the franchise around and bringing multiple championships to Chicago. Stan Bowman had probably one of the simplest decisions he will ever have to make. Both are beloved in Chicago and the face of the franchise and sports legends in this city.

They fill the seats at the United Center. One could argue that the Hawks actually got off cheap. It’s not to hard to sell even non-hockey fans when you have fresh young skilled talent that play a brand of hockey that is exciting and competitive. The Hawks did what they had to do yesterday.
NHL network analyst Kevin Weekes tweeted what best sums up the situation:

Kevin Weekes @KevinWeekes • Jul 9
@NHLBlackhawks Reward their players.No moving the ‘Goal Line’ the way some other teams have.Draft,develop,perform,win and Reward players.

That formula is how it should be for all NHL teams but it is not and that is what separates the Blackhawks from other organizations and why Kane & Toews remain in the red, black & white.

It’s hard to believe that both Toews and Kane are just coming into their prime and probably already qualify for the Hall of Fame. There is no question there will one day be statues of these two players along with the current ones of Hull and Mikita outside the United Center.

Now normally you don’t want to hand out bouquets to 25/26 year olds even after all of the achievements that they have made to date for risking them resting on their laurels. There is no such fear with these two.


They are cut slightly different but from the same cloth and that cloth is named – competitive. I know everyone thinks Jonathan Toews is the serious one but make no mistake Kane is equally competitive and they have a healthy rivalry with each other that pushes them and probably the team to succeed. If one of them scores a goal then the other one scores a goal ect.

You can tell also that both of them love the game of hockey and really enjoy playing. You can also tell that they also enjoy playing with each other and respect each other’s games and skill sets even if they do occasionally get on each others nerves. Neither of them lose focus on what is most important – winning.

On the subject of seriousness, Toews is not quite as serious as everyone thinks except maybe about hockey and that is a good thing. I say own your seriousness Jonny Chicago loves you for it and how can anyone not love Patrick Kane who is dipped in charm.

We here in Chicago have literally seen these two grow up before our eyes and we are fortunate enough to get to see them continue on here in Chicago as they do enter their primes.

Their temperaments give the team balance. You can have two highly skilled players but the chemistry and balance isn’t always there. Yes they are also surrounded by other skilled players on the core but it is these two that drive the bus just in different ways.


Does anyone think that either of these players likes to lose? They both realize they have a rare opportunity to do something here that maybe cannot be done in the salary cap era. Speaking of the salary cap there is no question that the Hawks future was also set in stone with the signings.

Managing the cap has never become more imperative and prospecting both on the amateur and professional side for years to come. Stan Bowman and his staff are up to the task. Will it be easy? No but nothing worth having or doing is.

Here is where the Blackhawks fans can help want to make the cap go up, want to see exciting hockey at the UC then get out there and go to the games, buy Blackhawks items tune into the games if you can’t afford a ticket as it will increase rating which increase sponsorship and advertisers.

Will the core be able to stay together after the 2014-15 season? That is the only question that remains. So far Stan Bowman has treated his players fairly and honestly so we have to assume that will continue. Will all of the core be here after next season? Who knows, but there are two players on that core that we all know are irreplaceable and Bowman now has them signed til 2022-23.

Captain Everything and Showtime will be gracing the ice on Madison for years to come which makes this Hawks fan very happy.

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Chicago Blackhawks – Leading the Western Hustle

Chicago, IL — If you followed the 2013-14 NHL season at all you are well aware of the vast difference between the Western Conference and the Eastern Conference. Everyone knows all the powerhouses are in the West with possibly the exception of the Boston Bruins but, with the loss of Jerome Iginla they may be weaker than they once were.

The NHL has a cap ceiling and floor to impart equality among all the NHL teams and give the league competitive parity in theory, but the theory seems tilted to the left or west if you will. There is parity in the league however it is all amongst the Western Conference teams.

It’s no secret that the LA Kings knew they had to be better to win the Stanley Cup their benchmarker – the Chicago Blackhawks. Hell Coach Darryl Sutter still says the road to the Stanley Cup goes through Chicago. Which maybe true in the Central but the road also goes through Los Angeles in the Pacific make no mistake. Unfortunately for everybody else, both of these teams are young and this is their time and they are built to last and going no where.

The Western Conference also just got that much tougher with the recent free agency and trading that took place this past week. Sports Center call it an “arms race” in the West and that is what is becoming.

The Anaheim Ducks, St.Louis Blues, Minnesota Wild & Dallas Stars all got better and improved their teams to challenge the Kings and the Blackhawks. Let’s not forget that other California team the San Jose Sharks who nearly tko’ed the champs in round one.

There were some big names that came to the west from the east like Spezza, Iginla, Vanek, Hemsky,Neal, Briere & Richards and some big name free agents that stayed like Stastny and Kesler. Great just what they needed more talent.

The competition in the west next year will be at a fever pitch just to make it into the playoffs it will require a hustle if you will, all year long. Again in the end this will only make the west stronger due to playing better competition throughout the regular season. You can better believe the Kings and Hawks will be keeping eyes on each other.

The Western Conference teams also play a different style of hockey. The west is bigger, faster and stronger. They have better goalies, better defenseman and more speed and power up front. The Western Conference teams can play many different styles from wide open run and gun to close goalie matches and lock-down style.

During the regular season the western teams do more traveling which in the end you would think would wear them down come playoff time, but maybe it has the opposite effect. Due to all the miles logged and traveled the western teams are in better condition and have more stamina because they understand the long grind and the need for pacing. Look what happened to Boston they fizzled out in the end.

There is no question that the East is the mecca of finance, fashion, culture and the media but it is the West and the Midwest that have shifted the hockey landscapes. The east coast bias in the media is amusing to all fans of western hockey teams and highlights the medias hockey intellect or lack thereof.

The best hockey is being played out West and in the Midwest without question. It’s a shame that the national media isn’t picking up on this and highlighting for the league.

That WCF series between Chicago and LA was one you just didn’t want to end ever and one audiences loved whether you were a die-hard fan of your team or an in general hockey fan. Everyone knew that the real Stanley Cup Final was played in the Western Conference Final and if the landscape doesn’t change that will be the scenario going forward as well.

So where does this leave the Eastern Conference or the NHL for that matter? Well there have been rumblings out of Pittsburgh from that hockey player there that is somewhat ok, joking, remember Sidney Crosby? Isn’t there a talented team in Florida that has a young exciting superstar on it called the Tampa Bay Lightning?

If Crosby, Malkin and company can start setting the pace in the East like the Blackhawks and the LA Kings are doing in the West we may get a balance here and wouldn’t that be interesting. For once one would like to go into a Stanley Cup Final without knowing the outcome. Although the same thing happens in the NFL the SuperBowl rarely lives up to the hype or play of the conference finals.

Even in the Boston/Chicago SCF did anyone outside of Boston really think after the dominating performance that the Blackhawks had in the regular season that Boston would win? Before the Kings even played game 1 of SCF against the Rangers didn’t we all know the Kings would hoist the Cup?

The East needs to keep up if they ever want to see hardware on the eastern seaboard again.Do we need to move the Chicago Blackhawks to the East to get some competition going and elevate the level of play? Where is that eastern cockiness?

Hustle is defined in several ways. It can be a scheme like Ponzi where something appears to be something it’s not. It can be chaotic speed like the hustle and bustle of the holidays. It can be ambition or drive like when you’re hustling to complete a task. Whatever way you slice hustle the west does all of these at a much higher level than the east.

Don’t the western teams play rope- a-dope the best, ah hem Phoenix, Anaheim? Who possess speed better than Colorado and Dallas? And for sheer ambition and drive can anyone master Chicago or Los Angeles?

It’s time for the East to learn the battle cry from the 70’s “DO THE HUSTLE” or as one great fictitious hustler said “Did you ever have to find a way to survive and you knew your choices were bad, but, you had to survive?” 1

1 Irving Rosenfeld played by Christian Bale from 2013 film American Hustle distributed By Columbia Pictures.

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Chicago Blackhawks – The future of the NHL’s brand?

Chicago, IL – This week it was reported that the 2015 Winter Classic will be held somewhere in our nation’s capital between the Washington Capitals and surprisingly, or maybe not so surprising, the Chicago Blackhawks.

The reason it is somewhat surprising is because the Blackhawks are not a rival of the Capitals in fact they are not even a conference foe and that maybe what was the deciding factor in selecting a Western Conference team.

There is no question there is a disparity between the two conferences. The West has all the big boys with the exception of the Boston Bruins. There is no better way than to bridge this gap than to have the East start playing the West. The Hawks are even opening up their home opener against the lowly Buffalo Sabres and we all know with the Hawks the game will still be sold out which probably is not true with other markets.

Why the Hawks over the Kings? The Hawks bring with them a bigger fan base and a sexier brand of hockey that translates to bigger audiences. Even the casual fan can appreciate the skill they bring and their youthful team draws in children.

The Winter Classic also will have the two teams participating spotlighted by HBO following the teams 24/7 and capturing the teams’ essence. In order to interest HBO you need to have market interest and teams that are easily marketed and the Chicago Blackhawks fit both of these criteria. They have big stars, characters on the team and they have a passionate and dedicated following not only countrywide but internationally as well due to so many European players on the team.

While the Stanley Cup Final did alright with television ratings there is no question that they would have done better had the Chicago Blackhawks been in the Final instead of the Kings. This year’s ratings did not beat last year Boston/Chicago series.

Actually the Detroit Red Wings and the Chicago Blackhawks have done the best in SCF ratings. I have nothing against the LA Kings I’m just stating the facts here. We all know that the East and more specifically the Northeast is where all the media power is and the Chicago Blackhawks are an easier sell. The Boston Bruins would be the only east team that can command as much fan base in the US.

Don’t believe me go to 1

Now it is also no secret that the biggest sports network ESPN does not even show hockey. Deadspin did a study that shows only 2.7% of their time is dedicated to hockey. 2

However in Chicago on ESPN1000 AM radio because of the success and demand of the Blackhawks fan base the Blackhawks are discussed and talked about on the radio by both the morning shows Carmen & Jurko and the afternoon show Waddle and Silvy on a regular basis. It still isn’t up there with the NFL or NBA but its better than in other cities.

While it is no secret ESPN champions the NBA as they carry their games, was it not the Chicago Blackhawks’ Patrick Kane that also bridged that gap with tweeting and befriending Miami Heat star Lebron James. He along with Patrick Sharp even attended a Miami Heat/Chicago Bulls game in Chicago to see Lebron. So what you say? Ever heard of Public Relations? If the NHL can interest even some NBA fans then that is a win.

It is also known that sponsors/advertisers where not thrilled that it was LA instead of the Chicago Blackhawks that made the Final. Now is a chance for the NHL to right this and make it up to them as one of the partners that give the league exposure and power. The other huge contributor to the NHL’s success – the fans and their fiscal input drives the league.

Chicago Blackhawk fans bring purchasing power with them. Blackhawks fans spend not only on tickets and apparel but they also travel and bring in revenue to other cities. No sooner was it announced that it would be the Hawks people on twitter were already asking about when sweaters would be available for sale and also making arrangements for trips to DC. If you don’t believe this ask the St. Louis Blues and the Nashville Predators who are constantly being invaded in their own stadiums with Blackhawks fans.

By the way, Blues and Predators you are doing an injustice to your cities and fan bases if you think you can keep out the Hawks fans it simply won’t happen. Hawks fans bring with them revenue for your cities and your franchises which means more HRR that only benefits your franchises and all NHL clubs.

The Chicago Blackhawks also represents the audience they are trying to cater to young people who want to be entertained by a team with speed and skill. It is no surprise that in Illinois the rise of youth enrolling in hockey classes is up 8.7% and entering top 5 in the United States thanks to the success of the Blackhawks. 3

If the NHL is smart they will continue to cash in on the ROMI (return on marketing investment) of the Chicago Blackhawks. It costs the league virtually nothing as John McDonough and his team with the Chicago Blackhawks has already done most of the marketing and packaging leg work.

Every single Blackhawks player is well spoken and has an ease with cameras and the spotlight even the shy soft spoken ones. It is something the Blackhawks have prepared these young men for. This is a good team of highly skilled exciting players that just happen to be character individuals who also happen to look like movie stars. Now if that is not a marketing PR persons dream I don’t know what is.

The Blackhawks brand carries with it significant weight. For one thing it doesn’t hurt that they are also an Original Six franchise and have longevity on their side and an established fan base. We are talking generational here which understands hockey and the NHL well. Asking the Blackhawks fan base to carry other teams really isn’t stretching them because they are passionate fans.

The NHL tried to make Sidney Crosby the face of the NHL in the United States and while I like Crosby the better face now would be Mr. Showtime, Patrick Kane in the United States for several reasons. First he is American that has its own built in patriotic pluses. Second he is charismatic and he is not afraid of the spotlight. Third he is plain old exciting to watch on the ice and dynamic. You just need to see his sick cellys.

Patrick Kane understands that hockey is show business and it is all about entertainment. I know someone; somewhere is going to bring up his past indiscretions. In all honesty that he is slightly flawed as we all are, makes him human and someone we can relate to. You can not tell me even as a foe he does not entertain you.

Crosby may in fact no longer be the face you want to market in Canada. Captain Canada Jonathan Toews fits the bill better but I leave that discussion for Canadians. Canada doesn’t need the game sold to them it’s the United States that the NHL needs to work on.

If other fan bases don’t want prosperity and more HRR because they are sick of seeing the Chicago Blackhawks then I would propose to those fans get out and support your teams. Purchase more than one sweater, travel with your team, follow your teams AHL affiliate, get involved. I can think of several markets that have excellent teams that just need a push. In the meantime Chicago can carry you after all it is the city of big shoulders.

1.TV by the numbers website
2 Dedspin website article by Patrick Burns 7/26/13
3. United States of hockey posted by Chris Peters on 6/17/14

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Chicago Blackhawks – with the 27th pick select…

Chicago, IL — Now that the 2013-14 season is in the books it is time to think about next year and the future. Stan Bowman is I’m sure.

The upcoming resigning of Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane has never made it more imperative to make sure that there is a sufficient supply of upcoming youngsters for some time so these two franchise players stay in the Indianhead jersey til they physically can not skate any more. Stan, that is what Chicago wants, so please make it so. Which means in order to afford what these two will deserve they will need to have young skill surrounding them in the pipeline to stay within the cap.

Now that the playoffs are over we know where the Hawks will be selecting. Unless the Hawks make trades or draft day trades they currently have the following picks:

Rd 1 – 27th pick overall
Rd 2- none pick to Phoenix Coyotes for David Rundblad and Matthieu Brisbois
Rd 3- 62nd & 88th the extra pick is from the Florida Panthers as part of the Brandon Pirri trade.
Rd 4- 93rd pick is actually from the Toronto Maple Leafs as part of the Dave Bolland trade. Chicago’s own pick was sent to the NY Islanders for Peter Regin and Pierre-Marc Bouchard.
Rd 5 – 141st & 148th the extra pick is from the San Jose Sharks as part of draft picks trades done in 2013 draft day.
Rd 6- 178th pick
Rd 7-208th pick

Without a 2nd round pick it is very important that the first round selection is a good one. Not that you can not pick up good players in later rounds but it is important to get your higher rounds right for your team. That being said let’s take a look at the potential candidates that will be available with the 27th overall pick. The focus here is on who would fit the Hawks organization the best.

These names could go anywhere from as high as 17th. Remember Teuvo Teravainen and Brandon Saad went much lower and fell to the Blackhawks. They fell not because they weren’t valued but teams scouts assess differently so it is possible for higher picks to fall if the player does not fit the organizations skills assessment and need. Some teams value size,some speed, some versatility you get the idea, with that here we go.

Alex Tuch,RW – Not sure this one will be there for the Blackhawks but this is a a pure power forward with excellent forechecking skills. He also has size at 6’3″ he’s a big American boy. The scouting reports on him is he has one of the heaviest shots in the draft.

Nikita Scherbak,RW – This Russian who is skilled, skilled & skilled would fit perfectly with the Hawks. The problem is he is Russian and could opt for the KHL but his set up skills and overall offensive upside maybe enough to take a gamble on. Scouting reports say he has good mobility and some slick hands hmm sounds like a couple of other Hawks. His size is decent at 6’1″ and his overall skills maybe too much to ignore.

Conner Bleackley,C – This 6′ Canadian has the triple crown of hockey, size, skill & strenth. He is a 200′ ft forward that does not mind getting dirty with good hockey sense. He opens up passing lanes & is a leader to boot. He was named captain of his Red Deer Rebels team. He needs to work on skating speed but other than that he is NHL ready. He has also been described as a hard worker. How could any team pass on this combo.

Nick Schmaltz,RW – This is a 5’11″ American that has all around skills. He is a good 200′ player with play making abilities. He is low key but paired with dynamic offensive players of which the Hawks have plenty this kid could thrive. He is also a local kid from WI as we saw last draft the Hawks like local kids when they selected Ryan Hartman.

John Quenneville,C – yes that Quenneville. He is the 2nd cousin of Chicago Blackhawks’ head coach which may make for some sticky situations but this kid has the goods to deliver. Scouting reports say the kid has a nose for the net which the Hawks could use more of. He does everything well with good size already at 6′ and 182lbs.

This draft is not said to be particularly good for defenseman so I don’t see the Hawks taking any early. There is a good American goalie Thatcher Demko that could be available at 27th pick but again I don’t see the Blackhawks taking a goalie early.

Other than winning the Stanley Cup I can’t think of a more exciting time in a franchises season or one more filled with promise for fans. Stan Bowman and Mark Kelly Director of amateur scouting have done very well in the past and there is no reason to think their impeccable record will stop now. Happy Drafting.

Information was compiled from Hockey Futures – , Elite Prospects –, NHL draft center ; The Hockey News

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Chicago Blackhawks – Thank you from a fan

Chicago, IL – I’m still not quite sure where I am on the emotional rollercoaster of this past 2013-14 season and playoffs. I’ve run the gamut since Sunday when the Hawks were so abruptly sent packing for the summer. I’ve experienced shock, disbelief, pride, joy,sadness, anger,euphoria, disappointment, appreciation but what I am probably left with is a sense of hope and wanting more. I suspect the players have all these same emotions as well.

There are always lessons to be learned in order to go forward and the players will have a couple of months to reflect on them in order to improve going forward along with getting some much needed rest. Maybe the lesson to be learned is you can never feel comfortable with any lead especially against an opponent that is as resilient as you are.

Maybe the lesson is hockey is just a game of crazy bounces and you were one crazy bounce away and this time it was that the bounce did not go your way but so many in the past have.

Maybe the lesson is that no team, no matter how skilled can ever repeat in the salary cap era although the Hawks came close and that is a testament to the team and orgainization.

I’m not sure what the biggest take away is or should be and perhaps it will be different for each player and fan. The one thing I do know is as a fan, unlike main stream media that have to be professional and not show emotions or biases as a fan I have the luxury of being able to express my feelings.

I still can’t watch the handshake line and I can’t hardly stand seeing a sad Patrick Kane or a sad Jonathan Toews. I’m not sure I can watch the boys clean out their lockers today but maybe like our captain Jonathan Toews said the work for next year starts now and viewing the future is best.

Even though this season came up just short of the one goal the Blackhawks have I’m choosing to focus on the positive emotion I’m left with hope. Hope for the future and it this hope that is founded on real tangible evidence.

Brandon Saad, Ben Smith and Antti Raanta all developing and gaining important game experiences for one. Brandon Saad and Ben Smith my gosh how they have grown in just these playoffs. They are developing into beasts that will be a force for years to come. Oh and Stan you need to literally anti up for Ben and Antti, please and thank you.

The talent that is sitting is Rockford gives me hope. Names like Clendening, Teravainen, McNeill, Danault, Hartman, Johns I can’t wait to see them develop and grow into the next wave of forces to help catapult the Hawks farther for this I thank you.

From October to June I was completely entertained and witnessed some of the most extraordinary hockey I have ever seen that was capped by a WCF series that was just incredible. The skill and creativity on this team is just other worldly and for that I thank you.

For giving me and my friends great experiences at the United Center. I thank you

The character and leadership on this team makes me proud. This team represents my city with grace, class, skill and dignity. I’m old enough to be the parent of all of these players and yet I find they inspire and motivate me to want to do and be better and for that I thank you.

In parting, the other positive is in October we get to go on this incredible rollercoaster ride together again with new challenges and thrills. I know the boys will be ready to once again go for the one goal and they will be for many years to come which brings a smile to my face and for that I thank you.

The core on this team, every single one of them makes me appreciate their dedication and bringing hockey back to Chicago and for that I thank you.

See you boys in October at the Madhouse. Enjoy your summers, rest up and always remember we are here standing behind you wanting only the best for you with one sentiment – GO HAWKS!

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Chicago Blackhawks – Can we get a little Belief?

Chicago, IL — “They can conquer who believe they can.” – Virgil

Last year at this same time I had to blog when the Blackhawks were down 3-1 to the Detroit Red Wings and everything was looking very grim for our boys in Red, White and Black. Look how that turned out. Now I’m not taking credit but I’ll be damned if I’m not going to do everything in my superstitious powers to give the boys some good mojo.

Last year I equated my feelings to Virgil “Bud “ Brigman in the film Abyss 1 when he was trying to revive his drowned wife. That involved slapping and yelling which is not appropriate this year. Last year the Hawks were the better team and deserved a slap in the face to wake them up. This year however they are facing an opponent who is their equal or maybe their better right now. Does that mean they cannot beat them? No.

The boys look tired and maybe lacking a bit in confidence so I offer this. The Kings are a great team but they have gotten every bounce to go their way. The five on five play has been pretty even it is the special teams that has been amiss for the Hawks and let us not forget they are being driven by vengeance. They have been waiting all year to get back at the Hawks for dismissing them so easily in last year’s playoffs and dethroning them.

The special teams fiasco is more due to the penalty kill being ineffective more so than the power play abandoning the team. Last year the Hawks won the Cup without an effective power play but the penalty kill was lights out. So what’s the problem?

Several things, either close the gaps or you need to block shots and get sticks and bodies in the lanes. The Kings have adjusted their power play with by getting several people in the crease and slot areas either move them out or you must block the shots. The Kings also are not going for big shots unless they are from the point they are going for a quicker release shots like wristers so closing the gap here is essential. Do this and I guarantee you will have better results.

The Kings strength is down the middle at center but the Hawks strength is on the wings. The Hawks are losing the faceoff battle so wingers you need to jump in with anticipation and help out your centers. If your strong on the Wings you need to use that speed to the outside to get to the net. Get behind their net and initiate plays from there if need be but get people in front of Quick.

Now for the tired bit and fatigue there really isn’t much that can be done except realize you only have to win 7 more games and then you can rest all you want. Also keep in mind the Kings are very streaky as well. They have lost 3 games in a row several times so they are not invincible. Now is the time to muster up all your energy one game at a time but everyone must do it not just one person.

Confidence or lack thereof brings me to the film I think the Hawks need to use for inspiration – The Matrix. Remember when Neo started to believe that he was the One he was able to defeat Agent Smith just because of his belief that he could. He utilized the power of self belief.

If the Hawks play to their strengths, close their gaps, use their speed and help each other defensively and get mad, they can turn the tide. Will it be easy? No Will you get bloody? Yes. But maybe Duncan Keith summed it up the best in his post game presser “It wouldn’t be worth winning a Stanley Cup if you didn’t have to go through adversity.” Is the Cup not worth this? You have a chance to enter the history books in the salary cap era as a repeat champion.

You have come this far now finish what you started. Take a deep breath and reboot. Forget the first four games, they also were closer than everyone thinks. The series starts now, execute and above all believe you have an entire city that believes in you and seen you do it before so go do it. you have an entire city of Morpheuses. Never forget you are still the defending champions, you guys are “The One” that every other team aspires to be like. Believe.

1.The Abyss released 1989 20th Century Fox
2 The Matrix released 1999 Warner Brothers

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