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Category: Chicago-Blackhawks

Alex Stalock Battles Back From Myocarditis

from Ben Pope of the Chicago Sun-Times, 

As a 35-year-old goaltender at Blackhawks training camp, Alex Stalock feels roughly the same way he did as a 22-year-old goaltender at Sharks training camp in 2009.

He has no idea how this will pan out.

But the fact he’s at camp at all—on an NHL contract, penciled in as the Hawks’ backup to Petr Mrazek, competing every day to earn that role—is a small blessing in itself. The opportunity means a lot. After all, this is his first training camp since 2019.

“What I’ve learned in pro hockey is anything can change at any day,” Stalock said Monday. “There can be injuries. There can be sicknesses. Obviously, COVID now changes everything. You can never be complacent and say, ‘This is how it’s going to be,’ because I guarantee you that’s not how it’s going to be at the end of the year.”

Stalock has experienced a few of those days where everything changed. But the one in November 2020 during which he was diagnosed with myocarditis stands out above the rest.

Stalock was starting to prepare for the pandemic-shortened 2020-21 season when he tested positive for COVID-19 during a routine entry into the Wild’s practice facility. Shortly after, an MRI revealed his heart muscle was inflamed. He needed to halt all physical activity or risk cardiac arrest.

continued

Filed in: NHL Teams, Chicago Blackhawks, | KK Hockey | Permalink
 

Petr Mrazek Employed A Physiotherapist Over The Summer

from Scott Powers of The Athletic,

Petr Mrazek knew he had to do something different this offseason.

His body hadn’t been holding up. He missed stretches of last season due to a groin injury and was limited to 20 games for the Toronto Maple Leafs. Plus, there was his age. He turned 30 in February.

Being a goalie, he knew those factors were only going to present more challenges in the future. If he was going to get ahead of it all, he had to treat this offseason differently

“I knew I need to change something,” Mrazek said after Blackhawks practice on Saturday. “With the age, it comes. I feel like the body gets a little sorer, a little tighter. That’s something I had to change, too. I had to change the things and get more flexible, feeling good about myself, feeling good about the body.”

So, he started seeing a physiotherapist back home in Czechia over the summer.

“I spent time with a physiotherapist 4-5 times a week for an hour or two hours working with them, stretching even more than I used to be,” Mrazek said. “Those were things I haven’t done before in the summers. That was something we changed. … I feel like I’m getting back to being flexible like I was younger. The parts of my body that were hurting before the summers and seasons are gone.”

continued ($$$)

Filed in: NHL Teams, Chicago Blackhawks, | KK Hockey | Permalink
 

You Knew This Was Coming

from Damien Cox at the Toronto Star,

Stamkos decided Tampa Bay was a much better place for his talents, and that decision has paid off with two Stanley Cup rings. Tavares came for $77 million (U.S.) only to quickly be usurped as the saviour-in-waiting by Auston Matthews, and probably Mitch Marner, too.

That, however, only makes the Kane speculation that much more intriguing as he enters the final season of his long-term contract with the Chicago Blackhawks. He would, in theory, be MLSE’s hockey version of Kawhi Leonard, the player from a championship team who could help a team that could never get very far in the playoffs get over the hump.

As a superbly talented player, he would also theoretically demonstrate to Matthews that the team will continue to keep him surrounded by top-drawer talent. As well, following the departure of two elite American players from Calgary this summer, this might be a way for the Leafs to prove they are different, particularly if they could keep the Arizona-born Matthews and the Buffalo-born Kane around for years to come.

So there’s lots here to gnaw on, and the gnawing has truly begun in earnest. There have been “reports” that the Leafs and Hawks have already discussed Kane. As well, former NHLer Paul Bissonnette, now the star of the Spittin’ Chiclets podcast, has loudly staked his reputation on his belief that Kane will be a Leaf this season.

more

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Edmonton Media Continues To Talk Patrick Kane

from David Staples of the Edmonton Journal, 

This in from NHL insider John Shannon, his take that the Edmonton Oilers have greater priorities than trading for Chicago Blackhawks ace attacker Patrick Kane.

“If you think that the Oilers are that close to a Stanley Cup, does Patrick Kane put you over the top? My thought process would be a defenceman rather than another forward,” Shannon told Bob Stauffer of Oilers Now. “Goal scoring is not going to be the problem for this hockey club. The issue for this club — as it has been for the last couple of years — is how to keep the puck out of the net at key times. For the most part they’ve done a pretty good job. Jack Campbell is going to address some of those issues. But I still think they need another defenceman before they need another forward.”

Stauffer broke down what he felt it might take for Edmonton to acquire Kane, either winger Jesse Puljujarvi or Warren Foegele (partly to move out salary to Chicago to fit in Kane under the Oilers’ cap), Edmonton’s 2023 #1 draft pick and a few other prospects, but not any of the Oil’s former first picks like Philip Broberg, Dylan Holloway, Reid Schaefer or Xavier Bourgault. Chicago would eat half of Kane’s salary and Edmonton also might need another team to eat 25 per cent of Kane’s $10.5 million cap hit, which might cost a third round pick. “For me, all day you should consider doing it, absolutely,” Stauffer said. “Why not? And you do it now. You go make it happen.”

continued

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The Rebuilding Chicago Blackhawks

from Tracey Myers of NHL.com,

The Chicago Blackhawks are in a rebuild, a message made very clear in an offseason that saw them remake their roster, with the exception of veteran forwards Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews, and defensemen Seth Jones and Connor Murphy.

The Blackhawks signed unrestricted free agent forwards Max Domi, Andreas Athanasiou and Colin Blackwell, and goalie Alex Stalock. They acquired goalie Petr Mrazek in a trade with the Toronto Maple Leafs and hired Luke Richardson as coach.

The additions are one thing, but the subtraction has been at the forefront. The Blackhawks traded forward Alex DeBrincat to the Ottawa Senators and forward Kirby Dach to the Montreal Canadiens. They didn't extend qualifying offers to restricted free agent forwards Dylan Strome and Dominik Kubalik; Strome signed with the Washington Capitals, and Kubalik signed with the Detroit Red Wings. Unrestricted free agent defensemen Calvin de Haan (unsigned) and Erik Gustafsson (Capitals) are gone too.

It's all part of a restructuring for the Blackhawks, who have missed the playoffs four of the past five seasons, including last season when they went 28-42-12 to finish second to last in the Central Division, and expect it will be some time before they're in the postseason again.

"I think it's really hard to determine right now, to be honest," general manager Kyle Davidson said, "because going into last season, a lot of the preseason projections probably had us doing a lot better than we did. And I'm assuming going into this season, a lot of people will be doubting us."

Mrazek said he wasn't concerned about joining a rebuilding team.

continued

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The Trade That Put Dominik Hasek In The Spotlight

from Dave Stubbs of NHL.com,

Dominik Hasek remembers being at home in the Czech Republic 30 years ago, on Aug. 7, 1992, on his way out for a Friday night at the movies.

He had no idea that the ringing phone he hesitated to answer as he tied his shoes would dramatically change his NHL career, putting him on the path to iconic goaltending status and the Hockey Hall of Fame.

Phoning from across the Atlantic Ocean was Hasek's agent, Ritch Winter, to tell the veteran of 25 regular-season NHL games that he'd been traded by the Chicago Blackhawks to the Buffalo Sabres. Going the other way was goalie Stephane Beauregard and a fourth-round selection in the 1993 NHL Draft.

"I think it was 'Basic Instinct,' in English with Czech subtitles, but I can't be 100 percent sure," Hasek said last week by phone, speaking from his car near Prague. "To be honest, after that call I didn't pay much attention to the movie.

continued

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Jonathan Toews On The Chicago Blackhawks

from Mark Lazerus of The Athletic,

And now Toews, like Kane, is facing the possibility — no, the very high probability — that this will be his last season in Chicago. And that he might even be shipped out before it’s over.

“When we traded Hags, and then Cat and Kirby, reality really set in that, OK, this is where we’re at, and they’ve got to really focus on the future,” Toews said. “And it’s just unfortunate that it’s come to that. But it is what it is. So much of that stuff has been out of my control for quite some time, and it’s a weird place to be in as a captain. It’s hard to tell, sometimes, what should be your concern and what shouldn’t be, aside from just playing your game. So my head is here, thinking about what’s right in front of me, what the next day or the next game or the next challenge is. These last few years have taught me to be in the moment and cut out the things that I really can’t control, and to just focus my energy on what I can control so I can really enjoy the game from there.”...

“At the end of the day, we’re talking about a five-plus-year process, according to Kyle,” Toews said. “So that part of it doesn’t sound appealing to me at all. I can’t speak for Kaner, but I definitely feel that the amount of turnover our team has gone through every single year these last three or four years, that’s where it gets really, really draining. And exhausting. You have a guy like Alex DeBrincat who was under Kaner’s wing. And I like to think that Kirby and I had that bond in some ways, too. And out they go, out the door. Over and over, we’ve seen that turnover. I’m learning to be more patient, but there’s no doubt that timeline is pretty daunting, and pretty exhausting to think about. So I’m not going to sit here and say what I’m going to do or what the future holds for me, because I really don’t know.”

much more (paid)

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Moving Patrick Kane

from Lyle Richardson at the Bleacher Report,

A creative playmaker, the 33-year-old right wing remains among the league's elite scorers, having finished 14th last season with 92 points in 78 games.

Kane also has a well-established reputation as a clutch playoff performer with 132 points in 136 career postseason games to go with 11 game-winning goals. With three Stanley Cups and the 2012-13 Conn Smythe Trophy on his resume as well, he would draw considerable interest among contenders.

Moving Kane during the offseason would be difficult given his hefty salary-cap hit. The best chance could come near the 2023 trade deadline, when teams have accrued sufficient cap room to take on a player with his talent. Chicago would also likely be more willing by that point to retain half his cap hit.

Kane would undoubtedly become the Blackhawks' best trade chip if they shopped him. But which clubs would stand the best chances to land him?

We examined those possibilities in March leading up to the 2022 trade deadline. Here are our updated potential trades and landing spots.

more

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Report- Eddie Olczyk Out In Chicago

from Mark Lazerus of The Athletic,,

In the past year, the Blackhawks have parted ways with general manager Stan Bowman, coach Jeremy Colliton, longtime play-by-play voice Pat Foley, star winger Alex DeBrincat, up-and-coming players Brandon Hagel and Kirby Dach, and a host of front-office personnel, all while the fates of franchise pillars Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews remain murky at best.

Add local institution Eddie Olczyk to the list.

A source said that Blackhawks director of broadcasting Trevor Bray has been reaching out to former players Monday morning to check their availability to serve as color commentator on NBC Sports Chicago broadcasts next season because Olczyk is not expected to return to the post he’s held for 16 seasons.

Olczyk’s contract expired on June 30..

continued ($)

Filed in: NHL Teams, Chicago Blackhawks, NHL Media, Hockey Broadcasting, | KK Hockey | Permalink
 

What Will Toews And Kane Do?

from John Dietz of the Chicago Daily-Herald,

While Davidson may not want to handicap the odds of Toews and Kane returning, I'm happy to do so.

Let's start with Toews, who didn't score in the first 25 games last season but did finish with 12 goals. Next season may be Toews' last, so you have to think the captain will want one more chance to win a Stanley Cup. The thought here is he waives his no-movement clause, starts the season with the Hawks and is traded in February or March.

Kane's situation is much more interesting because he is still one of the best offensive forwards in the game. He scored 26 goals and dished out 66 assists while never 100% healthy last season. On a bad team, no less.

This is the second time in five years the Hawks unceremoniously traded one of Kane's superstar linemates. Bye-bye, Artemi Panarin. Bye-bye, DeBrincat.

Make no mistake, Kane is upset and weighing his options.

My guess is Kane does one of two things:

- He waives his NMC soon and tells the Hawks to trade him to a contender (the Rangers being his first choice).

more

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About Kukla's Korner Hockey

Paul Kukla founded Kukla’s Korner in 2005 and the site has since become the must-read site on the ‘net for all the latest happenings around the NHL.

From breaking news to in-depth stories around the league, KK Hockey is updated with fresh stories all day long and will bring you the latest news as quickly as possible.

Email Paul anytime at pk@kuklaskorner.com

 

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