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Tag:Joel Quenneville
Posted on: February 13, 2012 6:06 pm
Edited on: February 13, 2012 6:58 pm
 

Blackhawks coach, goalies get vote of confidence

Quenneville led the 'Hawks to the Stanley Cup two seasons ago. (US Presswire)

By Brian Stubits

Times have gotten rough for the Chicago Blackhawks, real rough. Like no wins in their last eight games rough.

It has led to some speculation that head coach Joel Quenneville's job could be in jeopardy. Imagine that, a team that's still in playoff position firing its coach not even two years after winning a Stanley Cup? Hey, sports are a "what have you done for me lately" business and lately Quenneville's team hasn't done much for anybody other than give opponents points.

Well GM Stan Bowman is trying to put an end to it. He came out with that ol' vote of confidence on Monday, from CSN Chicago.

"That's not the concern for me at all. I'm very confident in Joel's ability, our coaching staff's ability. Our players - the effort is there. They're as frustrated as anybody, you can watch it on the ice. It's not working. There's no disputing that, but I don't buy that assertion (that Quenneville's message is lost) at all. These players are on board with us. They believe in this group (of coaches). We're not far. We need to get this turned around, but we're not far from making it work."

When I asked if Joel's "the guy," Bowman responded, "Absolutely."

So, is Quenneville's heat hotter than Hades now? We know how often that vote of confidence goes well for the person they are confident in.

Call me crazy, but this is one of those times where I actually do believe Bowman. Unless the Blackhawks go eight more games without winning, I have a hunch that Quenneville has a job through this season, at the least.

So who should be feeling the heat for this skid, the goaltenders? After all, Ray Emery has a 2.81 goals against average and .901 save percentage ... and his numbers beat starter Corey Crawford (2.99, .898).

Nope, they are safe too, according to Bowman.

"We're not focused on goaltending. We're really not," Bowman said. "I know there's a lot of talk about that, but internally, we have to focus on the guys we have, and turning it around from within."

Does that mean the Blackhawks will be a completely stand pat team at the deadline at the end of this month? Are there no moves for them to make?

Well, it's still likely that they will look to upgrade the defensive corps. It's been an issue all season long and they could use some reinforcements back there. Of course, there are a lot of teams who want to find some quality defensemen and not a whole of them to be found, especially after Andy Sutton just re-signed with the Oilers.

More from Eye on Hockey

Trade deadline rumor mill

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @BrianStubitsNHL on Twitter.

Posted on: February 12, 2012 3:35 pm
Edited on: February 12, 2012 6:32 pm
 

Weekend Wrap: Callahan, Rangers keep rolling

Callahan had four goals in the Blueshirts' two weekend wins. (Getty Images)

By Brian Stubits

At this point I'm wondering what the New York Rangers have to do to convince everybody they are this good. I'm already there but I still find a lot of skeptics.

They do everything well enough. Some things they do exceptionally well, like stop pucks from going in the net. You can thank Henrik Lundqvist for that largely, but it's a team effort. There might not be a tougher team to get shots through the defensemen than the Rangers. They are physical, evidenced by their league high fighting majors. Now they are scoring just enough to support Lundqvist.

And they have passed pretty much every test thrown at them this season, including this weekend. Back-to-back against the Flyers and Capitals? No problem. They took all four points possible, including a fifth win in five chances against Philly on Saturday, 5-2 at Wells Fargo Center. That featured a Ryan Callahan hat trick.

Captain Cally kept it up with the first goal of the Blueshirts' 3-1 win on Sunday over the Caps. Go back to Thursday night win over the Lightning and that's five goals for Callahan in his last three games.

To give it a little more significance with a much larger sample size, Dave Lozo of NHL.com did some quick math today: using Callahan's last 113 games, he has averaged 32 goals per 82 games, a full season's worth. Not bad for a guy who has a career high of 23 set last season (which he is one away from breaking this season).

That doesn't even factor in the shots that he blocks. He is the epitome of John Tortorella's Rangers: hard-nosed, two-way player who will throw his body in front of anything and give the team all he has. Basically he has all the intangibles you love in a player while actually possessing many of the tangibles, too.

If you have any doubt, check out the goal he scored on Sunday. It was ugly but beautiful all at the same time.

At this point, the Rangers are atop the NHL standings in points (depending on Sunday's result in Detroit). Even if they aren't there at the end of the day, their points percentage is tops in the league. They have 77 points in 54 games, the Wings have played two more games (three more by the end of the night.

New York is actually pulling away from the rest of the East in the race for home-ice throughout the conference playoffs. They are up seven points now on the Boston Bruins.

The thing that gets me was on display this weekend. They have been just as good on the road as they have been at Madison Square Garden. They won both games this weekend despite one being in Philadelphia. Overall, they are 18-6-2 at MSG, 18-7-3 away from it. That's pretty remarkable. Winning on the road is crucial, especially when it comes to postseason success.

It all has people dreaming of the summer of 1994 again, another summer parade down Broadway.

Personally, I've run out of reasons to think it can't happen.

More from the weekend
Recaps
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More Eye on Hockey

Blackhawks (falling) down

While they aren't pressing it yet, I get the sense that a lot of Blackhawks fans are digging through their things looking for that big red button. No, I don't mean the tchotchke Staples easy button.

With a sweep on their weekend visits to San Jose and Phoenix, including a 3-0 blanking by the Coyotes on Saturday night, the Blackhawks have lost eight consecutive games. Eight! They have earned just one of the last 16 points available.

Their place in the Central Division race is all but gone. They trail the division-leading Red Wings by 11 points. With two teams in between them (the Blues and Predators) the hope of winning the division is all but gone, especially with the Wings not leaving Detroit often for the rest of the season.

More importantly, they have to watch their playoff spot. With the loss to Phoenix, the 'Hawks are only three points up on eighth place, five ahead of ninth-place Calgary. And that could diminish further as the Blackhawks still have three more games on this extended road trip.

Playing a little game I'll call fun with Twitter, the Eye on Hockey account (follow it here!) asked if this was the bottom for the Blackhawks, if they had really hit the floor yet. One fan -- @therudeinshrewd -- didn't think so. "No, something tells me the #blackhawks haven't bottomed out yet. i think the road trip will be winless. THAT will be bottom."

It's gotten to the point that Adam Jahns of the Chicago Sun-Times is wondering if coach Joel Quenneville's seat isn't hot. The defense has some serious issues, coming in 27th in the league in goals against per game with an even 3.00. Their goal differential is down to plus-3 thanks to their high goals for (174 to 171).

This can't be too far from the bottom you'd figure with a team that has this type of talent, but it's getting close to desperate in Chicago.

Just give him the Hart

Evgeni Malkin has been absurd -- in a good way -- for the Pittsburgh Penguins, especially in the past two months.

For the third time since Dec. 17, Geno had himself a five-point game this weekend in Pittsburgh's 8 -5 win over the Winnipeg Jets on Saturday. Unlike the previous two five-pointers, this one didn't come with a hat trick. He was in a much more giving mood this time scoring a goal with four assists.

The outburst gave him a little separation from the points pack as he moved five up on Steven Stamkos and Claude Giroux with 67.

But considering the injuries the Penguins are dealing with again this season and their position of still being solidly in the East's playoff picture, Malkin is separating himself from the rest of the Hart candidates, too. Barring injury, it seems a safe bet that he'll take the "MVP" award home -- unless the aforementioned Lundqvist doesn't take it.

While we're at it ...

Might as well just hand Stamkos the Richard Trophy now too.

Scoring is down in the NHL, colleague Adam Gretz explained that in his most recent edition of Pucks & Numbers (a must-read weekly piece, hockey fans), yet Stamkos isn't stopping.

The 22-year-old is now up to 37 on the season after potting one in a 2-1 Lightning win in Buffalo on Saturday. That puts him seven ahead of Malkin and Phil Kessel in the goals department, a very comfortable lead with less than 30 games to go.

Like Malkin and the Hart, it's really hard to imagine at this point that Stamkos won't win the Richard barring injury.

Goals not so plentiful here

The Los Angeles Kings might be solely responsible for bringing down the league's scoring total mentioned above. Even with the coaching change from Terry Murray to Darryl Sutter, the Kings are still at the bottom of the league in that category, averaging just 2.07 goals per game.

That ineptitude was on display at the Islanders on Saturday. For the second straight game on their current road trip the Kings scored only one goal. The good news for them is that the Islanders only scored one goal in the first 60 minutes too before winning it in OT. So at least the Kings got a point.

But when you are fighting hard for a playoff berth in the Western Conference, scoring one goal in games isn't going to help you get to your end. The Kings are right now holding onto the seventh spot in the West after their league-high (tied with Florida and Carolina) 11th OT loss this season. Those extra points will be awfully important at season's end.

You have to think the Kings will be one of the more aggressive teams in the hunt for that elusive scoring forward at the trade deadline.

Quote of the weekend

For the visually/audio impaired ...

"I'm a little disappointed at the effort, the emotional level, a top team in the conference and league and to be honest. We got half the guys going and half not.

"That was my opinion. You might see differently, but that is what I saw. It’s a big game for us and I was expecting more. It was tight game, they got three power play goals, we didn’t score any.

"They play the same way every night. There's no surprises and if there is a breakdown their goalie makes the save and they block a ton of shots. Somehow they get the job done. They work hard. They play the same system every night and their goal plays really well every night.

"You have to bring it every night. I don't care who you are ... Every game matters. You have to bring it!"

-- Flyers defenseman Kimmo Timonen (from CSN Philly) on Saturday's 5-2 loss to the Rangers.

Sounds like those five losses to the Rangers this season (seven in a row) are really starting to take their toll.

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @BrianStubitsNHL on Twitter.

Posted on: October 19, 2011 6:14 pm
Edited on: October 19, 2011 6:51 pm
 

Hit reactions pour in, including Michael Buble

BubleBy Brian Stubits

You know how the new rules and Brendan Shanahan's regime keeps being referred to as a "work in progress?" Well there are a few people who think it needs a lot more work before they can progress.

One of the biggest criticisms that I've seen fans and commentators expressing about the strong new emphasis on hitting from behind is the accusation that players will turn their backs on a player hoping to draw a penalty. How a two-minute minor to an opponent is worth risking severe physical damage such as a concussion or worse is beyond me, but that's hockey players for you, I guess.

But now that there has been time to digest the new rules and for players to get a feel for them, the constructive criticism is becoming to come in from those who just so happen to be known for their hitting. (And then from one crooning minor-league owner, we'll get to that further down so stay tuned!)

Ben Meyer-Abbott of the Chicago Sun Times gathered some opinions from around the league. Let's just have a look.

“Guys are abusing the rule in the wrong kind of way and purposely putting themselves in vulnerable positions. You should never turn your back when you know someone’s coming to hit you. It’s the stupidest thing you could ever do. The league’s got to look at this.”

-- Minnesota Wild forward Cal Clutterbuck to the Minneapolis Star Tribune.

“I’ve felt for years a lot of guys turn their back when they’re going to be hit to draw a penalty. They know you can’t hit them when they turn their back.”

-- Blackhawks forward Jamal Mayers.

“I’m not naïve, I have seen it and it is happening. At the same time. ... I’ve seen an awareness [about boarding and head shots] where you’ve seen guys, I don’t want to say necessarily pass up a hit, but not go for the big hit when a guy is vulnerable.”

-- Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville.

“Yeah, it was [my] game of the year actually [against the Winnipeg Jets]. [Johnny] Oduya did that. [He] had the puck on the boards and I had him lined up shoulder-to-shoulder and he rimmed [the puck away] and then as soon as I got there he turned his back and I had to come to a complete stop and I couldn’t finish him.

“It’s really difficult. The game’s so fast, once you start thinking about, 'Oh man should I make this hit, maybe I shouldn’t make that hit,' it’s not good -- especially for a guy like me who needs to make those hits to be an effective player."

-- Blackhawks forward Daniel Carcillo.

There were more than a few people who felt Alex Burmistrov might have turned away from Kris Letang Monday night in Winnipeg which drew a two-game ban for Letang. I don't think he did, but as long as the doubt exists, it will be an issue -- not in his case specifically, but league wide.

Herein lies the essence of all the naysayers to the systematic changes. You are threatening to take away an integral part of the sport. Again, nobody that I have seen has said they don't want to remove hits to the head, etc. They are unnessary, let alone very dangerous. 

The more timid players get for fear of a suspension, the less hitting you'll see in the game, obviously. That's the fine line.

But the integrity of players is being comprimised. Intentionally turning your back to either avoid a hit or draw a penalty? It's in the same vain as flopping, but worse, in my opinion. These are changes that are needed to the game, however the effort could be undercut by those looking to gain an advantage. It's a dicey situation, to be sure.

That brings us to Michael Buble. You know him, he's the guy who just hasn't met you yet. Where does he fit in the picture? Well he just happens to be a co-owner of the Vancouver Giants and considering he's Canadian, he knows some hockey.

Here's what Bublé told AOL Music.

"I find it hypocritical that men who made their money fighting or playing the tough guy are now telling people it shouldn't be part of the game. I think it's part of hockey -- no one's ever got killed fighting. I think there's got to be atonement on the ice. You take a shot at a team's best player, then you need to pay the price,"

"I honestly can't stand what's happening in hockey right now. I don't think the players know what they can and can't get away with. I obviously think the players should have more respect for each other when they hit each other, but I saw [NHL head of player safety Brendan] Shanahan suspend a guy two games for high sticking. That's just crazy. It can't go on like this."

He sounds very Don Cherry-esque there. Really. When I first saw what he said, I just thought the story was quoting Cherry's season-opening rant on Coach's Corner that got him in so much hot water. It's basically the same argument, except it comes from a guy who doesn't have a history of being a polarizing figure (or a history of awesome outfits).

Buble continued, though, by offering up his solution to the problem.

"They need a third party. You cannot have someone who works for [NHL commissioner] Gary Bettman making disciplinary decisions. Nor can you have someone who is part of the players' association. You have to have a third party who has nothing to do with either. So it's fair and balanced," he says.

"The game has never been as good -- its fast, it's exciting. But hockey has also never gone through a time as tough as this with these young guys who were fighters who have taken their own lives," he adds, acknowledging the subtext of the uproar."

This isn't the first time that the idea of a third, neutral party as judge has been thrown out there. It won't be the last, either. If the controversy surrounding the suspensions keeps up, it will be another point of contention in the growing list of them for the CBA negotiations that are set to start in earnest around the All-Star Game.

I like the idea of a mediator, if you will, but it wouldn't be without its questions, too. How well does the person really understand hockey? Are they really neutral? You have to think that even if said mediator does enter the picture as a truly neutral party, it won't stay that way. It is only natural to begin forming opinions that shape your thoughts, no?

Of course, not all players see this change as being so difficult. For somebody like Capitals defenseman Dennis Wideman, it's a matter of respect for your opponent. I caught up with him earlier this season and here's what he told me regarding the new rules.

"For me I don't think it changes anything. I think the rules, the way they tweaked the rules and the way they changed it, that's the way it should be played," Wideman said. "I think when some one has got their back to you and they are in a vulnerable situation, you should lay off.

"We shouldn't have to change the rules. We shouldn't have all these suspensions. There has got to be that respect. I like what [Shanahan] has done and as long as he hopefully keeps it going and hopefully the guys start protecting each other a little more."

I was always told you can wish in one hand and, well ... do something in the other and see which comes true first. The fact is that it's not an easy transition, neither for the players nor for the sport. If it were as simple as saying "no more dangerous hits" it would have been eliminated years ago.

But as you can clearly see, the integrity of the game remains an issue. Hitting is such a fabric of the game that an official stat is kept just for it at every game you go to. It's a physical sport and hockey players are a typically tough breed. They and their fans by in large take a lot of pride in the physicality of the game. Scars are often badges of honor.

Fact of the matter is this is and will remain a very divisive issue. Players bating others into hitting them illegaly only compounds it. Players will always find ways to circumvent the rules, look for their shortcuts. The same applies here.

You work on one thing, that brings up a whole new second thing to work on, yada, yada, yada, the beat goes on. It makes progress pretty difficult at that point.

More NHL Discpline News Here

Photo: Getty Images

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @BrianStubitsNHL on Twitter.

Posted on: September 26, 2011 11:04 am
Edited on: September 26, 2011 11:15 am
 

Blackhawks flirting with putting Kane at center

By Brian Stubits

If the Blackhawks have any hole on their roster as it's currently constructed, it would be at the center position. Coach Joel Quenneville would like to have more depth in the circle, especially since Marcus Kruger isn't completely impressing the staff.

So it isn't surprising that the team is looking from within to find an understudy. But it is a slight surprise that Patrick Kane is in the discussion. The star wingman has shown enough to get a tryout at center in the coming days. Tracey Myers of CSN Chicago had the quotes from Quenneville.

"He's been playing center throughout scrimmages and practices now and we'll see," Quenneville said.

"Defensively he's gotten better as he's grown in that position with us, down low on the walls. It's something we're going to at least take a look at."

As Myers points out, how about Michael Frolik? He's been a wing man since coming into the NHL but he has potential in the faceoff dot. And by trying him out you aren't disrupting the rhythm Kane has built with Jonathan Toews on the top line.

Even if he is the best of the rest for the Blackhawks at center, I would think he's too valuable to the team in his current position to move. Sure, he could be a fill-in, but I can't imagine the team is giving serious consideration into Kane being one of the four centers. No way would they move him to the another line just to fill the position.

Much more likely scenarios if Kruger doesn't convince them he can handle the center spot include shifting the aforementioned Frolik or maybe Jamal Mayers to the position. Or they could look to fill the void from within the system or even on the scrap heap that is remaining free agents -- John Madden is available for a return to Chicago.

As for Kane's feelings on the possibility, all Quenneville would say is that Kane is "not complaining."

Photo: Getty Images

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @BrianStubitsNHL on Twitter.

Posted on: March 3, 2011 1:20 pm
Edited on: March 3, 2011 2:10 pm
 

Blackhawks visit to White House set



President Obama will honor the hockey team from his old stomping grounds, the reigning Stanley Cup champ Chicago Blackhawks, at a White House ceremony March 11, the league announced on Thursday.

Members of the this year’s club -- including captain Jonathan Toews (above) -- will be in attendance along with team owner Rocky Wirtz, GM Stan Bowman and coach Joel Quenneville. That leaves a good portion of the 2009-10 club responsible for the team’s title run -- Dustin Byfuglien (Atlanta), Antti Niemi (San Jose), Kris Versteeg (Philadelphia) and Andrew Ladd (Atlanta) -- possibly out of the fold. Chicago Trbune reporter Chris Kuc reports all members from last year's team are invited, but it will be up to their current teams whether they'd be cleared to attend. 

As part of First Lady Michelle Obama's Let’s Move! campaign, members of the Blackhawk and the Washington Capitals will help conduct a clinic on a street hockey rink set up on the South Lawn. NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman and USA Hockey Executive Director Dave Ogrean are schedule to preside over that part of the festivities. 

The Blackhawks will be in town to play the Caps on March 13, a game that will be broadcast on NBC 12:30 pm ET. 

Photo: Gettty Images
 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com