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POSTED ON Friday, 12.09.2011 / 2:26 PM
By Kelsey Peters - chicagoblackhawks.com / The Blackhawks Blog


There’s a new-and-improved piece of equipment in the Blackhawks dressing room this season: a championship belt featuring Hawks-themed pendants that goes to the team’s top player after every win.


WINNING THE HARDWARE

Some of last Hawks to win "The Belt" are:

11/11 vs. CGY - Ray Emery
11/13 vs. EDM - Jonathan Toews
11/16 at VAN - Andrew Brunette
11/25 at ANA - Sean O'Donnell
11/26 at LAK - Corey Crawford

“I don’t know who came up with that idea [to get a more elaborate belt], but it just goes to show you that the organization is willing to do just about anything to make this a good place to play,” said winger Patrick Sharp.

The original belt was acquired in the spring of the Blackhawks’ Cup-winning season. During a road trip to Phoenix, defenseman Brent Seabrook discovered a WWE event going on outside the rink.

“Seabs saw a bunch of people walking around with these belts, and he thought it’d be a good idea to pass it around to the MVPs,” said Sharp. “He went and offered a guy some money for it, bought it and brought it to the rink the next day.”

The original belt had the chosen player’s name affixed to it in masking tape, while the new belt has magnetic nameplates for each winner.

“It’s just a thing we started to get guys fired up and have some fun,” added Seabrook. “I think the guys like it, and it’s been good.”


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POSTED ON Thursday, 12.01.2011 / 2:57 PM
By Brad Boron - chicagoblackhawks.com / The Blackhawks Blog


The Blackhawks’ top six featured some changes at practice on Thursday, and could mean a new look to the lineup when the team faces the New York Islanders on home ice tomorrow.

The biggest move saw Patrick Kane – who has been at center since the season began – reunited with Jonathan Toews on the top line at right wing, opposite Viktor Stalberg. Moving Kane off the second line frees up space for Marcus Kruger, who got time between Patrick Sharp and Marian Hossa at practice.

“Kane at center has been a good option for us,” Blackhawks Head Coach Joel Quenneville said. “Kruger is playing well. We like two of Sharp, Kane, Hossa and Toews playing together. That gives us a different look and something we get to try.”

Though Kane said he was comfortable with the move back to his familiar position, he was quick to add that this may not be the last Blackhawks see of No. 88 in the middle, where he has scored 7 goals, 17 assists and recorded a plus-9 rating in 24 games this year.

"Sometimes you just have to keep things exciting and switch it up,” he said. “I'm familiar with [right wing]. I have to get used to it a little bit but it shouldn’t take long. I'll still try to do some things I did at center where you're trying to get the puck a lot down low, moving up ice. I don't think [playing at center] is totally out of the books; it's something they could go back to if they need it.”

While new linemate Toews was quick to dismiss the importance of the move, he did say that having Kane back on his line will give both of them more opportunities on offense.

“Back to old ways, I guess,” he said. “Kaner’s proven he can play at center, and going back to wing, he’ll be as comfortable as ever. We’ll just go back and make plays – both guys want the puck, and that’s not necessarily a bad thing. The good thing with Kaner is that sometimes you can shy away from the puck and get away from all of the attention on the ice and sneak back door. He can back opponents off and buy some time. It’s nice to play with a guy like that and I think he’ll fit in with [Stalberg] and me.”

The move also signals a significant promotion for the 21-year-old Kruger, who has just 36 NHL games under his belt, but has caught the coaching staff’s and players’ attention with his impressive play early this season. Playing in between two All-Star caliber players in Sharp and Hossa could give Kruger enough talent around him to prove that he belongs in the top six.

"Marcus gives us an option based on his performance, and we'll see how he handles it with the top guys," said Quenneville. "It's more of an experiment that way as well. Knowing you always have Kane in the middle in your back pocket is a nice option to have."

“We’ll let it play out,” Sharp said. “I don’t think [the line change] is as big of a deal as it seems from the outside. Lines change all the time. The three of us have been together before. We’re excited to try a new line and see how things go.”

News and notes: Corey Crawford will get the start in net against the Islanders… Brent Seabrook, Dave Bolland and Steve Montador all sat out of practice Thursday for maintenance, and all are expected to play Friday.

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POSTED ON Thursday, 12.01.2011 / 10:55 AM
By Harvey Wittenberg - Web Contributor / The Blackhawks Blog



Chicago bench boss Joel Quenneville became the 14th NHL coach to register his 500th career victory in a 4-3 shootout decision on Dec. 1, 2009, at Columbus, which featured a team record 11 shootout rounds. Quenneville is now approaching 600 wins and is one of only three men to have both coached and played in more than 800 games.
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POSTED ON Monday, 11.21.2011 / 10:59 AM
By Kelsey Peters - chicagoblackhawks.com / The Blackhawks Blog



Michael Jordan had his North Carolina shorts. Jim McMahon had his headbands. Patrick Kane has his mouthguards. 

“They get beat up pretty quick obviously because I chew on them,” said Kane. “Even if it’s beat up though, if I’m playing good at the time, I’ll stick with that mouthpiece because I think it’s good luck. But I usually change them up every six or seven games, out of necessity. It’s always nice when you get a fresh one in there.”

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POSTED ON Monday, 11.21.2011 / 10:55 AM
By Kelsey Peters - chicagoblackhawks.com / The Blackhawks Blog

Over the course of the 2011-12 hockey season, the Blackhawks will log almost 150 hours in the air. So what will the players do to pass the time? Play cards, of course. But there’s one game that appears to be hockey’s own inside secret: Snarples.

“I started playing in juniors,” said Bryan Bickell. “Not my first year, because rookies sit at the front of the bus and just look straight ahead. But for the next four years over juniors and the minors, that’s where I learned it. It’s the hockey game. I think there are many different names for it, but hockey players call it Snarples. I don’t know where we got it from, but it stuck and everybody knows it.

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POSTED ON Friday, 11.18.2011 / 2:12 PM

CALGARY -- Ben Smith will draw into the Chicago Blackhawks lineup tonight against the Calgary Flames as Michael Frolik announced he was a no-go after suffering an upper-body injury against the Vancouver Canucks.

Frolik suffered the injury after sliding awkwardly into the boards in the third period of Tuesday's 5-1 win. Despite taking the morning skate, Frolik ruled himself out of tonight's contest.

"It's not really great," Frolik said. "I'll probably not be in tonight. We'll see tomorrow. Every day is progress. It's sore and I can't be strong tonight so we'll see."

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POSTED ON Thursday, 11.17.2011 / 11:07 AM
By Harvey Wittenberg - Web Contributor / The Blackhawks Blog


The first Blackhawks game in National Hockey League history was held at the old Chicago Coliseum on Nov. 17, 1926, as the Hawks whipped the Toronto St. Pats, 4-1.

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POSTED ON Monday, 11.14.2011 / 4:26 PM
By Harvey Wittenberg - Web Contributor / The Blackhawks Blog


One of Joel Quenneville's main goals this season was to regain home-ice dominance, which paid off in 2010 with the Stanley Cup when the Blackhawks chalked up a 29-8-4 record at the United Center. The mark was just one short of the all-time franchise record set in 1970-71, along with a new high of 23 road victories.

Last season the Hawks maintained a respectable road mark of 20 wins, which ranks sixth best in team history, but at the UC it dipped to 24-17-0. As they start a two-week road trip, the Hawks have garnered 16 out of 20 points with an impressive 7-1-2 record at home. On their way to the Cup in 2010, the Hawks finished November with a 16-6-3 mark, which included an eight-game win streak.

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POSTED ON Thursday, 11.10.2011 / 5:20 PM
By Brad Boron - chicagoblackhawks.com / The Blackhawks Blog



When balloting for the 2012 All-Star Game opens on Monday, a league-high six Blackhawks players will have their name among the 127 nominees, the NHL announced today. Blackhawks Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane, Duncan Keith, Brent Seabrook, Marian Hossa and 2011 All-Star Game MVP Patrick Sharp will appear on the league's official ballot. The six Blackhawks are tied for best in the league with Pittsburgh, Boston, Philadelphia and Anaheim.

Of the six Chicago skaters named to the ballot, five - Toews, Kane, Sharp, Keith and Hossa - have participated in the NHL's annual exhibition before. Seabrook was on the NHL's ballot last season, as well.

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POSTED ON Monday, 10.31.2011 / 12:00 PM
By Harvey Wittenberg - Web Contributor / The Blackhawks Blog


Halloween is a popular night in Blackhawks history:
  • Rookie Dave Bolland earned his first NHL point with an assist on Oct. 31, 2007, in a game against the Stars in Dallas.
  • In 1987, Denis Savard and Troy Murray tied a team record by scoring two shorthanded goals 12 seconds apart at Toronto.
  • On Oct. 31, 1979, at the Stadium, Hall of Famer Tony Esposito registered the 66th shutout of his Hawks career as he and Buffalo's Bob Suave battled to a scoreless tie in the days before overtime and shutouts.
  • It was on Halloween in 1991 that the Hawks picked up their 1,750th NHL regular season victory by edging the New York Islanders 4-3.
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