Cleat Geeks

The Blackhawks Backhand

Change is coming to the Blackhawks. During Saturday’s end-of-season news conference at the United Center, general manager Stan Bowman said he was “frustrated and angry” at the team’s first-round playoff sweep at the hand of the Predators and vowed to make the necessary changes in an attempt to avoid such a “complete failure” next season. Bowman would only guarantee that coach Joel Quenneville would be back. Beyond that, Bowman said he would not rule making sweeping changes to the roster if that is what an internal review of the season concludes.

“This was a tough, tough loss for us all to take,” Bowman said. “Standing here April 22 is not the way we expected our season to end. And it’s a complete failure when you measure it against the expectations that we have of ourselves. We did not come even close to reaching the standard we have set over the years here. And that’s unacceptable.”

“Any successes that we did experience this year are completely overshadowed by the abrupt ending to our season. It’s not close to good enough for anybody.”

Bowman wouldn’t go into specifics on what changes he would make. Beyond Quenneville’s return, it sounded as if everything is on the table.

The Blackhawks have approximately $59.34 million in salary-cap room tied to nine players next season: Patrick Kane, Jonathan Toews, Niklas Hjalmarsson, Duncan Keith, Brent Seabrook, Artem Anisimov, Marian Hossa, Corey Crawford and Artemi Panarin. The cap was $73 million this season, and if it goes up for 2017-18, it likely won’t be by much. All but one of those contracts — Panarin’s — includes a no-movement clause. That means those players would have to agree to a trade before Bowman could make the move.

“Top to bottom, we need more. This is unacceptable to be where we are (Saturday),” Bowman said. “There will be change. Change comes in many different ways. So the specifics of how we’re going to change things into next year are not really meant for this forum.

“But I can promise you we need to be better. Joel is our head coach. He will continue to be our head coach. And Joel and I are going to work together to make sure that this never happens again.”

Bowman did not rule out potential changes to Quenneville’s staff, though Quenneville said Saturday that he didn’t envision making any. Bowman also said the salary cap would not be an excuse — or stand in his way — of making moves.

“We have to find a way. We need to get better,” Bowman said. “Our expectation is to win, and we didn’t win. I don’t buy into that. We have to find a way.”

The Blackhawks Backhand

The Blackhawks will open the 2017 Stanley Cup Playoffs, the team’s ninth consecutive appearance in the postseason, against the Nashville Predators in a best-of-seven First Round series. The Blackhawks finished the 2016-17 regular season with a 50-23-9 record (109 points) and earned the top seed in the NHL’s Western Conference. It also marks the 16th division championship in franchise history as the Blackhawks took home the Central Division crown. Chicago has reached the Stanley Cup Playoffs for nine consecutive seasons and currently holds the second-longest active postseason appearance streak (Pittsburgh, 11). The Blackhawks are the only team to post seven 100-point seasons since 2008-09. Chicago recorded a 4-1-0 record against the Predators during the 2016-17 regular season. This marks the third Stanley Cup Playoff match-up between Chicago and the Predators; the Blackhawks won the most recent series in the 2015 Western Conference First Round, 4-2. In 2010, Chicago topped Nashville in the Western Conference Quarterfinals, 4-2.

ICYMI:

The Blackhawks announced last week that they recalled defenseman Gustav Forsling from the Rockford IceHogs of the American Hockey League.

The Blackhawks Backhand

 

The Blackhawks clinched the 16th division championship in franchise history as well as the best record in the Western Conference with a Minnesota Wild loss on Saturday to the Nashville Predators. The Central Division championship is Chicago’s first since 2012-13. The division title, along with clinching the best record in the Western Conference, ensures the Blackhawks home-ice advantage for the first three rounds of the 2017 Stanley Cup Playoffs. The Blackhawks­ currently have 107 points and a 50-21-7 record with four regular-season games remaining. Chicago will be making its ninth consecutive trip to the postseason, the second-longest active streak in the NHL to Pittsburgh (11 straight).

Patrick Kane was named NHL’s third star for March. Kane ranked second in the NHL with 10-12-22 in 16 games as the Western Conference-leading Blackhawks (50-21-7, 107 points) posted an 11-3-2 March to clinch their ninth consecutive playoff berth. He registered at least one point in 12 of his 16 contests, seven of which were multi-point efforts. That included a trio of three-point performances, highlighted by his fourth career hat trick March 1 vs. PIT. The 28-year-old Buffalo native and reigning Art Ross Trophy winner places second in the NHL with 34-53-87 through 78 games this season, including a League-leading 19-19-38 in 26 outings since February 1st.

The Blackhawks announced that tickets for the 2017 National Hockey League Draft will go on sale to the general public on Friday, April 7, at 12:00 p.m. CT. The tickets will be available exclusively at ticketmaster.com or by calling Ticketmaster at (800) 745-3000. The Blackhawks will host the 2017 NHL Draft™ at the United Center, marking the first time the organization and the city of Chicago host the event. The Draft will be held over two days – Friday, June 23, and Saturday, June 24, 2017. NHL club executives, scouts and coaches will be present on the NHL Draft floor while more than 15,000 fans and hundreds of print, television and radio media are expected to attend. In addition to the Draft, the Blackhawks will host an outdoor festival at the United Center throughout the two-day event. The festival will feature the NHL Centennial Fan Arena, which is an interactive traveling fan experience that honors a century’s worth of extraordinary players and teams, remarkable plays, and unforgettable moments. The NHL Centennial Fan Arena includes a museum truck, entertainment truck, a ball hockey rink, never-before-seen virtual reality Zamboni experience and the Stanley Cup. Additional information about the outdoor festival will be announced at a later date.

The Blackhawks Backhand

The Blackhawks announced Thursday that they agreed to terms on a two-year contract extension with forward Tanner Kero, which runs through the end of the 2018-19 National Hockey League season. Kero has posted five goals and seven assists in 38 games with the Blackhawks this season. He began the 2016-17 campaign with the American Hockey League’s Rockford IceHogs where he led the club with 20 points (7G, 13A) before being recalled on December 22nd, 2016. The Hancock, Michigan native recorded a career-high three points (2G, 1A), including his first career multi-goal game, on January 17th at Colorado. Kero is one of seven rookies to suit up for Chicago this season. The 24-year-old has split time with the Blackhawks and IceHogs over the previous two seasons after being signed by the organization as a free agent on April 2nd, 2015. In 55 career games with the Blackhawks, Kero has registered six goals and nine assists. He has also compiled 64 points (32G, 32A) in 94 contests with Rockford. Prior to turning pro, Kero spent four seasons at Michigan Tech where he accumulated 111 points (55G, 56A) in 153 games. A 2015 Hobey Baker nominee, Kero was named the Western Collegiate Hockey Association’s Player of the Year during his senior campaign after pacing the Huskies with collegiate career-highs in points (46), goals (20) and assists (26).

Single-game tickets for the first two rounds of the potential 2017 Stanley Cup Playoffs home contests will go on sale to the general public today Monday, March 27, at 12:00 p.m. CT. The tickets will be available exclusively at ticketmaster.com or by calling Ticketmaster at (800) 745-3000. Each customer will be limited to four tickets. Refunds for any un-played playoff games will be available at the point of purchase. In that event, the credit card used to purchase tickets by fans using the internet or phone will be automatically credited, less any applicable processing fee.

The Blackhawks Backhand

 

ICYMI:

Last week the Blackhawks announced that they agreed to terms with defenseman Luc Snuggerud on a three-year contract that begins next season and runs through the 2019-20 campaign. He will report to the American Hockey League’s Rockford IceHogs. Snuggerud, drafted by the Blackhawks in the fifth round (141st overall) of the 2014 National Hockey League Draft, recently finished his junior season at the University of Nebraska Omaha where he was named to the National Collegiate Hockey Conference Second Team after registering career highs in goals (11), assists (20) and points (31) in 39 games. His 11 markers led NCHC blueliners and his 31 points were second. The 21-year-old tied for third among conference skaters with 18 power-play points this past season. As a freshman, Snuggerud was named to the NCHC All-Rookie Team. In three seasons at Nebraska Omaha, the Eden Prairie, Minnesota, native totaled 17 goals and 48 assists in 113 career games.

They also announced last week that they agreed to terms with forward Anthony Louis on a two-year contract that begins next season and runs through the 2018-19 campaign. He will report to the American Hockey League’s Rockford IceHogs. Louis, a native of Winfield, Illinois, recently completed his senior season at Miami University by posting career highs with 14 goals and 39 points in 36 games. His 25 assists were fourth and his 39 points third in the National Collegiate Hockey Conference. After skating in 36 games as a freshman and finishing fifth on the RedHawks with 25 points on 12 goals and 13 helpers, Louis received Miami’s Dr. Phillip Shriver Rookie of the Year award. In four seasons at Miami, the 22-year-old totaled 46 goals and 80 assists in 145 career games. Prior to enrolling at Miami, he won four state championships with both the Chicago Mission and Team Illinois, totaling eight. He was drafted by the Blackhawks in the sixth round (181st overall) of the 2013 National Hockey League Draft.

The Blackhawks Backhand

 

The Blackhawks announced Sunday that they agreed to terms with forward John Hayden on a two-year contract that runs through the 2017-18 season. Hayden, 22, recently completed his senior season at Yale University by posting career highs in goals (21), assists (13), and points (34) in 33 games. His 21 tallies paced the Bulldogs and shared eighth among all NCAA skaters. He recorded four multi-goal games and ran a point streak that stretched across eight games from November 5th to December 9th. Hayden served as the team’s captain and was selected as a 2017 Hobey Baker candidate and a finalist for the Walter Brown Award as New England’s best American-born Division I college hockey player. In four seasons at Yale, Hayden accumulated 50 goals and 41 assists in 127 career games. He was drafted by the Blackhawks in the third round (74th overall) of the 2013 National Hockey League Draft.

ICYMI: The Blackhawks activated defenseman Niklas Hjalmarsson from injured reserve last week. Hjalmarsson has registered 14 points in 60 games with the Blackhawks this season, including a career-high five goals. He ranks third in the National Hockey League with 156 blocked shots this season. He was placed on the injured reserve on February 28th, retroactive to February 23rd. Chicago’s fourth round (108th overall) draft choice in 2005, Hjalmarsson has amassed 23 goals and 116 assists in 610 career NHL games – all with the Blackhawks.

The Blackhawks Backhand

On Wednesday, the Blackhawks acquired forward Kenton Helgesen and a seventh round pick in the 2019 National Hockey League Draft from the Anaheim Ducks in exchange for forwards Spencer Abbott and Sam Carrick. Helgesen has recorded three goals and 10 assists in 38 games during his second season with the ECHL’s Utah Grizzlies. In two seasons, the Grand Prairie, Alberta, native has registered 18 points (5G, 13A) in 69 career games. Prior to turning pro, Helgesen spent four seasons with the Calgary Hitmen in the WHL, compiling 130 points in 266 contests. Helgesen was originally selected by the Anaheim Ducks in the seventh round (187th overall) of the 2012 NHL Draft. Abbott is currently playing with the Rockford IceHogs of the American Hockey league where his 35 points leads the team (15G, 20A). He appeared in one game with the Blackhawks this season and made NHL debut with the Toronto Maple Leafs on October 5th, 2013. Abbott has posted 183 points (64G, 119A) in 240 career AHL games across five seasons (2011-15, 2016-17). He spent the 2015-16 season in the Swedish Hockey League with the Frolunda Indians where he notched 14 goals and 21 assists in 42 games. Carrick is also currently with the IceHogs where he was second on the team in scoring with 28 points (11G, 17A). He has appeared in 19 career NHL games-all with the Toronto Maple Leafs-scoring one goal and tallying one assist. In 249 career AHL games, Carrick has 52 goals and 76 assists. He was originally selected by Toronto in the fifth round (144th overall) of the 2010 NHL Draft and was signed by the Blackhawks on July 1, 2016.

On Thursday, the Blackhawks announced that they agreed to terms with forward Matthew Highmore on a three-year contract. Highmore has recorded career-highs in goals (32) and points (82) through 58 games of his fifth season with the QMJHL’s Saint John Sea Dogs. He paces the Sea Dogs in assists (50) and points (82), and ranks second on the team in goals (32) and power-play points (11G, 21A). The 21-year-old put together a six-game goal scoring streak (8G) from December 2nd to December 17th, 2016, which ranks as the sixth longest in the league this season. Highmore has racked up 27 multi-point outings. In 283 career games with the Sea Dogs, Highmore has compiled 88 goals and 152 assists. Highmore was teammates (2013-17) with Nathan Noel, Chicago’s fourth round draft choice in the 2016 NHL Draft.

The Blackhawks announced Friday that they recalled goaltender Jeff Glass from the American Hockey League’s Rockford IceHogs. Glass has compiled a 5-7-1 record to go with a 2.62 goals-against average and .910 save percentage in 13 games with the IceHogs this season after joining the team on January 10th. He has posted two shutouts this season with his most recent coming on February 15th in a 37-save performance against the Cleveland Monsters. Glass also appeared in two games with the AHL’s Toronto Marlies earlier this season, posting a 1-1-0 record with a 2.05 goals-against average and a .917 save percentage. The 31-year-old has collected a 48-75-1 career record in 150 career AHL games with the Binghamton Senators (2005-09), Toronto Marlies (2016-17), and IceHogs (2016-17). He also accumulated an 81-87-30 career record in the Kontinental Hockey League with six different clubs from 2009-16. Glass was originally drafted in the third round (89th overall) of the 2004 NHL Draft by the Ottawa Senators. He was signed by Chicago on February 23rd, 2017.

 ICYMI: He’s back! The Blackhawks acquired defenseman Johnny Oduya from the Dallas Stars in exchange for forward Mark McNeill and a conditional fourth-round draft pick in the 2018 National Hockey League Draft. Additionally, the Blackhawks placed defenseman Niklas Hjalmarsson on injured reserve, retroactive to February 23rd.

The Blackhawks agreed to terms on a one-year contract extensions with defenseman Michal Rozsival and forward Jordin Tootoo. Each extension runs through the end of the 2017-18 National Hockey League season.

The Blackhawks Backhand

 

On Thursday, the Blackhawks announced that they recalled forwards Tanner Kero and Nick Schmaltz from the American Hockey League’s Rockford IceHogs. Kero has four markers and four helpers in 22 games with the Blackhawks this season. He also shares fifth on the IceHogs with 20 points (7G, 13A) this year. Schmaltz has four goals and six assists in 38 games with Chicago this season. He netted his first career NHL goal October 15th against Nashville. Schmaltz has also recorded nine points (6G, 3A) in 12 games with the IceHogs this season.

Despite snapping their five-game winning streak on Saturday night, the Blackhawks hosted “Hockey Is For Everyone” night at the United Center. In support of “Hockey Is For Everyone,” Blackhawks players used Pride Tape on their sticks during warm-ups. Select player sticks will be auctioned online at auctions.nhl.com/hockeyisforeveryone from Monday, February 20th, through Monday, February 27th, with proceeds benefiting the You Can Play Project.

The Blackhawks Backhand

 

On Sunday, the Blackhawks announced that they have activated defenseman Michal Rozsival from injured reserve and reassigned defenseman Gustav Forsling and forwards Vinnie Hinostroza, Tanner Kero and Nick Schmaltz to the American Hockey League’s Rockford IceHogs. Rozsival had one assist in 14 games with the Blackhawks this season prior to being placed on injured reserved January 29th, retroactive to January 25th. He has appeared in 199 games with the Blackhawks over the past five seasons, notching three goals and 44 assists.

Forsling has recorded two goals and three assists in 36 games with the Blackhawks this year. He recorded his first career National Hockey League marker on November 13th vs. Montreal. Hinostroza is second among Chicago rookies with 14 points (6G, 8A) this year. He has three multi-point outings during the 2016-17 campaign. Kero has four markers and four helpers in 22 games with the Blackhawks this season. He also shares fourth on the IceHogs with 20 points (7G, 13A) this year. Schmaltz has four goals and six assists in 38 games with Chicago this season. He netted his first career NHL goal October 15th against Nashville.

Up Next: The Blackhawks return to action Saturday February 18th when they face-off against the Edmonton Oilers at 6:00 p.m. CT at the United Center.

The Blackhawks Backhand

Blackhawks prospect Alex DeBrincat becomes the Erie Otters’ all-time leading goal scorer. A few weeks ago, he surpassed Connor McDavid for third on the Erie Otters’ all-time scoring list with 286 points, trailing only teammate Dylan Strome (313) and Brad Boyes (309). On Thursday, the 19-year-old Blackhawks prospect surpassed Boyes to become the franchise’s all-time leading goal scorer with 142 goals after sparking a two-goal comeback with a pair of third period tallies in a 5-4 victory. He ranks first in the league with 40 goals and 83 points through 42 games this season. Debrincat was a second-round pick (No. 39 overall) in the 2015 NHL Draft, and signed a three-year, entry-level contract with the Blackhawks in November 2016.

ICYMI: Saturday night, Patrick Kane scored his 268th goal in a Blackhawks sweater, tying with Tony Amonte for 6th in team history. That same night Corey Crawford passed Ed Belfour for third-most wins in Blackhawks history with No. 202. Congratulations to those two!

Up Next: The Blackhawks’ next game is Wednesday night against the Wild in Minnesota.

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