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Posted On Thursday, 10.13.2011 / 3:47 PM

By Brian Hedger -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Happy Birthday, gramps?

Sean O’Donnell doesn't look like he's 40, but for his 40th birthday today, the Chicago Blackhawks defenseman received a gag gift from his teammates that made him chuckle.

"There might have been a walker in my stall and a nice cake," said O'Donnell, who signed a one-year contract with the Hawks in the offseason. "Hockey guys, they'll never let you get too big (of an ego). If there's something to tease a guy on, they'll be pretty ruthless. I've heard a couple of good ones today, but that's part of the fun of a locker room."

As for culprits, he wasn't ready to single anybody out.
 
"It was one of those things where there were quite a few giggles," O'Donnell said. 'So, I think it was a team effort."
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Posted On Thursday, 10.13.2011 / 2:16 PM

By Brian Hedger -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Lineups for Blackhawks, Jets game

Here is what the lineups could look like when the Blackhawks and Jets face off in Chicago tonight.

BLACKHAWKS
Andrew Brunette - Jonathan Toews - Patrick Sharp
Daniel Carcillo - Patrick Kane - Marian Hossa
Bryan Bickell - Dave Bolland - Michael Frolik
Rostislav Olesz - Marcus Kruger - Jamal Mayers

Duncan Keith - Nick Leddy
Niklas Hjalmarsson - Brent Seabrook
Steve Montador - Sean O'Donnell

Ray Emery will make his season debut in goal tonight, with Corey Crawford serving as the backup.

JETS
Andrew Ladd - Bryan Little - Blake Wheeler
Evander Kane - Kyle Wellwood - Mark Scheifele
Brett MacLean - Nik Antropov - Alexander Burmistrov
Tanner Glass - Jim Slater - Chris Thorburn

Dustin Byfuglien - Tobias Enstrom
Zach Bogosian - Mark Stuart
Ron Hainsey - Johnny Oduya

Ondrej Pavelec will start in goal, with Chris Mason the backup
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Posted On Friday, 10.07.2011 / 6:41 PM

By Brian Hedger -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2011 NHL Face-Off Blog

Wings to honor three victims of Lokomotiv crash

Detroit will do a number of things before Friday's opening game at Joe Louis Arena to honor the lives of former players Ruslan Salei, Stefan Liv and former assistant coach Brad McCrimmon.

The three were among those killed in the tragic September plane crash in Russia that killed 37 members of the KHL team Lokomotiv just outside of Yaroslavl. Salei played on the blue line for the Wings last season, Liv was once a Wings goalie prospect and McCrimmon was an assistant under Mike Babcock from 2008-11 - leaving after last season to become Lokomotiv's coach.

The Wings will wear a special patch in the Lokomotiv colors of blue and red on the left sleeve of their jerseys with the initials "BM, RS and SL."

Friday night's game-worn jerseys will also be used to raise funds for the three families, and wives of current Red Wings players will also sell honorary bracelets that say "Love for Lokomotiv" in the concourse - with the proceeds going to a fund for the families of players and staff killed in the crash.

Coaching staffs of both the Wings and Senators will also wear red and blue ribbons made by the wives of the Red Wings players. McCrimmon's family -- wife Maureen, daughter Carlin and son Liam -- still live in the Detroit area and will be honored on the ice prior to the game.
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Posted On Friday, 10.07.2011 / 6:30 PM

By Brian Hedger -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2011 NHL Face-Off Blog

Babcock holds fast to his goal: a championship

It was a simple question about legendary Detroit Red Wings defenseman Nicklas Lidstrom and whether Mike Babcock feels a little fortunate to coach him.

Babcock's answer gave turned out to be a sort of mission statement that assuming the Red Wings are on the downswing now is probably a mistake.

"When you get to coach an Original Six team and you get to coach the Detroit Red Wings and work for Mr. (Mike) Illitch and get to coach (Steve Yzerman) and Lidstrom and (Brendan Shanahan) and (Chris Chelios) and (Dominik Hasek), Henrik Zetterberg), Pavel Datsyuk … you've got to pinch yourself," he said. "It's a dream come true. We've got great people in this room and we've found a way to be great for long periods of time. We don't plan on letting it stop anytime soon."

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Posted On Friday, 10.07.2011 / 1:07 PM

By Brian Hedger -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2011 NHL Face-Off Blog

Expected lineups for Senators, Red Wings

The Ottawa Senators and Detroit Red Wings will open their seasons today at Joe Louis Arena in Detroit. Based on this morning's practices, here are the expected forward lines and defense pairings for each team:

RED WINGS
Valtteri Filppula-Henrik Zetterberg-Johan Franzen
Jiri Hudler-Pavel Datsyuk-Danny Cleary
Justin Abdelkader-Darren Helm-Todd Bertuzzi
Drew Miller-Cory Emmerton-Tomas Holmstrom

Nicklas Lidstrom-Ian White
Niklas Kronwall-Brad Stuart
Jonathan Ericsson-Jakub Kindl

Jimmy Howard will start in goal, with Ty Conkin the backup.

SENATORS
Colin  Greening-Mika Zibanejad-Daniel Alfredsson
Milan Michalek-Jason Spezza-Nikita Filatov
Nick Foligno-Stephane Da Costa-Chris Neil
Erik Condra-Zack Smith- Billy Butler

Chris Phillips-Brian Lee
Filip Kuba-Erik Karlsson
Jared Cowen-Sergei Gonchar

Craig Anderson will start in goal, with Alex Auld backing him up.
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Posted On Saturday, 09.17.2011 / 5:48 PM

By Brian Hedger -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - Super Saturday

Blackhawks Camp: Prospect Morin misses opening of camp

A week after traveling but not playing with the Blackhawks' team in the prospects tournament held in Oshawa, forward Jeremy Morin (concussion) is still not healthy enough to get back on the ice for a game.

Saturday marked the opening of training camp for the Hawks and Morin, 20, was noticeably absent in scrimmages. In fact, he's been sidelined since last January, when he was hurt playing for the Rockford IceHogs of the American Hockey League.

Morin was a second-round pick by the Atlanta Thrashers (No.45) in the 2009 Entry Draft and came to Chicago as a key part of a deal that sent former Hawks star Dustin Byfuglien and several others to Atlanta.

Morin, a right wing with a knack for offense, made a good first impression at Chicago's prospects camp last summer. He then opened eyes in the Hawks' training camp last year before nearly opening the season with the team. He eventually played nine games with Chicago before heading to the World Junior Championships – where he suffered a shoulder injury.

It wasn't long after that his season was cut short by the concussion, which is believed to have happened after being flipped on his head, helmet on, after a hard check.

Hawks coach Joel Quenneville said Morin's status is "day-to-day."
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Posted On Saturday, 09.17.2011 / 5:44 PM

By Brian Hedger -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - Super Saturday

Blackhawks Camp: Kane shoots and scores, in shootout

CHICAGO -- Patrick Kane is being held out of contact drills for the Blackhawks while he continues to recover from surgery this summer to repair the scaphoid bone in his wrist.

That means no scrimmaging, which is why he didn't take part in either of the two scrimmages held at Chicago's Training Camp Festival Saturday at the United Center. He did, however, go through two practice sessions and also participated in a shootout for his team following the second and final scrimmage of the day.

The shootout didn't impact the score of the scrimmage and was just done to entertain fans at the sold-out event. Kane didn't fail to deliver, either. After telling a video crew beforehand what move he was going to use – backhand, top shelf – he went out and potted a goal to the delight of Hawks fans hoping he has a big season.

"I was just kind of joking around like, ‘Get me out there for the shootout,'" Kane said. "They said, ‘Do you want to?' And I was like, ‘Sure.' Next thing I know, they're filming me in here beforehand and I was saying I was like Mariano Rivera going in to close. It would've been nice if it was actually for the win, but it was pretty cool nonetheless. It's fun to actually get out there and score a goal."

As for how the injury is healing, Kane said his hand felt a little stiff after taking off the brace but loosened up to the point where he started stickhandling and shooting a little more during the practice sessions.

"This is probably the best I've felt as far as my hand," Kane said. "I was actually shooting a lot more. I felt really good out there. I'm kind of begging the trainers to scrimmage right now, but I don't think they're going to let me just yet."
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Posted On Saturday, 09.17.2011 / 5:32 PM

By Brian Hedger -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - Super Saturday

Blackhawks Camp: No Hossa yet for Hawks

CHICAGO -- Star forward Marian Hossa missed the beginning of training camp for the Blackhawks while mourning the loss of close friend Pavol Demitra – whose funeral was Thursday in western Slovakia.

Demitra, a former captain of the Slovakian national team, was among the 37 players, coaches and staff of Kontinental Hockey League club Yaroslavl Locomotiv killed in a plane crash last week shortly after takeoff near the town of Yaroslavl, Russia.

Hossa attended the funeral with fellow Slovakian players Zdeno Chara and Marian Gaborik. Hossa's wife also gave birth to their first child recently.

"He's going to be here in a couple days," Chicago Vice President and General Manager Stan Bowman said. "Marian's gone through a tough time here. That was one of his close friends. I spoke to him the other day and it's a real tough situation for him to deal with. On a more positive note, he had his first child a couple days ago as well, so he's getting that settled with his wife and we certainly want to give him time to be ready to step on the ice. So, in a couple days he'll be back here. Our thoughts are with him."
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Posted On Saturday, 09.17.2011 / 5:31 PM

By Brian Hedger -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - Super Saturday

Blachkaws Camp: Emery makes good first impression in Chicago

Despite allowing three goals in his first scrimmage appearance with the Blackhawks, veteran goalie Ray Emery looked good to Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville on Saturday.

Emery, who made a comeback last season with the Anaheim Ducks after a rare hip condition threatened his career, is in camp on a tryout offer. If he shows Chicago's coaches and front office what they want to see, Emery, 28, could stick as the team's backup to starter Corey Crawford.

His main competition for the spot is 24-year old goalie Alexander Salak, who was one of the best goalies in the Swedish Elite League last season.

"I like him," Quenneville said of Emery. "I thought he did well. He looked big in the net and looked very composed and confident, as well. He came in at a real important time in Anaheim's season last year and did a great job for them and I likes his approach going into this camp. We'll definitely keep an eye on him because we like what we're seeing."

Emery was beaten on goals by Hawks captain Jonathan Toews – on a partial breakaway – along with scores by center Brandon Pirri and defenseman Shawn Lalonde.

"I'd give myself a B-minus maybe," Emery said, when asked to assess his performance. "I thought I was pretty solid. I'd like to have the last one back, but you have to get your hands back at the start of the year and there's a whole bunch of things going through your head as far as playing the puck and covering rebounds and working through traffic and different things that (are) tough to brush up on over the summer. That's what training camp is for, to work out the kinks. So, overall, things went pretty well."

Emery had surgery to repair a condition called avascular necrosis, which in layman's terms was the deterioration of the top of the ball in his right hip. The surgery could've ended his career and still left him with a long and painful recovery filled with moments of doubt.

Eventually, he made a comeback with the Ducks midway through last season and played in 10 games of the regular season – going 7-2-0 with a 2.28 goals-against average while replacing injured Ducks starter Jonas Hiller, who was battling vertigo.

"I think I'm the only professional athlete missing a fibula right now," Emery quipped. "I was fortunate to have access to the doctors that I did and kind of nip it in the bud before my hip collapsed. I'm really fortunate and excited that I've got another chance."

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Posted On Saturday, 09.17.2011 / 4:57 PM

By Brian Hedger -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - Super Saturday

Blackhawks Camp: Olesz looking forward to fresh start

CHICAGO -- One of the new faces inside the Blackhawks locker room belongs to 25-year-old left wing Rostislav Olesz after Chicago acquired him this off-season in a trade that sent defenseman Brian Campbell to the Florida Panthers.

Olesz, Florida's top pick (No. 7 overall) in the 2004 Entry Draft, never lived up to his lofty draft slot in six seasons with the Panthers. Last season he logged just 44 games before suffering a torn ACL in his right knee – ending his year with six goals and 17 points.

After getting his official medical clearance to participate in camp drills and scrimmages Friday, Olesz hopes to have the same kind of career spark as former Panthers teammate Michael Frolik seemed to get by coming to the Hawks in a trade last season.

"It's an honor for me to be here," Olesz said, after playing on a winning scrimmage team at Saturday's annual Training Camp Festival. "I will do anything they need from me. My best hockey's coming. Everything will be new for me and I'm looking forward to it. Anything I need to do I'll do. Whatever it takes."

As for his knee, he said this is the first time it's really felt 100 percent healthy since injuring it.

"There's no limitations," Olesz said.
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Quote of the Day

He stuck his neck out there for us. I don't know what's wrong with him, but you see he was in pain. But he went back in there. He's a tough guy. You've got to give him credit for helping the boys out.

— Panthers forward Brandon Pirri on goalie Roberto Luongo, who returned to game on Tuesday against Maple Leafs after leaving earlier in the contest with an injury