The Hawks are, at times, a little too soft. There are a number of smaller players. Do you feel you can add the needed physical aspect to the team? And are you expecting to play in a checking line role? -- Jim, Toronto, Ontario
I guess my role will be something that plays itself out in training camp and throughout the season. I'm coming in with expectations to help the team in any way I can and do whatever the coaches want me to. Obviously the physical part of the game is something that I bring. So I hope to be able to help in that way. Now that I am healthy, it's something that I feel I can add.
Kevyn, do you feel you can bring a lot to the table with a young Blackhawks squad other than your grinder work, hard-go-to-the-net style... such as helping the young core of this team develop or adding some depth to special teams? -- Kyle Fischer, Calgary, Alberta
One of the things that I truly enjoy doing is being a leader in terms of working with the younger guys and taking them in -- not just on the ice because those guys usually don't need much help on the ice; it's off the ice where you can kind of just work with guys and bring them along and show them little things here and there. Or have them over for dinner away from the rink and just make the guys feel comfortable. That's something I really look forward to and I'm excited the Hawks have a lot of young players so I can do that.
In terms of special teams, I feel like that something that has always been my trademark, being a penalty killer. So hopefully I can come in and add that to the Hawks and make us one of the better units in the league.
Hey Kevyn, welcome to Chicago and the Hawks! Realistically, for yourself, what kind of offensive output would you consider a successful season? -- Eric P., Chicago
That's a good question. I think part of it depends on the role that you're playing in, but I've always been someone who tried to push myself to produce as much as I could offensively no matter what role I was in. I don't like to put specific expectations. Two things I like to do: Get the most out of the role I'm in, that includes offensively and defensively. And win hockey games. Flat out, if you're winning hockey games and you're playing a certain role, then that's all that matters. You're helping the team in some way.
Kevyn, nice to see you in a Hawks sweater! I was wondering, what do you think was your greatest hockey achievement? -- Ryan, Richmond, IN
With no question, that's the Stanley Cup. Just in terms of it being something you dream of your whole life and having the opportunity to succeed and win it the way we did, where we were in back-to-back seven-game series. Getting the chance to play in game seven of the Stanley Cup finals and being successful is something that is everyone's dream and I was fortunate to have done it.
Kevyn, part of building a young winning team is having smart veteran leadership like you to guide the kids. What are some of the important lessons learned during your Stanley Cup winning '05-'06 season that you can pass on to the Blackhawks youth? -- John, Batavia, IL
I could go on forever on that. There are certain things that jump out at me right away. You have to expect as a team to be successful and demand each other in the locker room to be successful and have high expectations. No matter where you're picked and what people are saying about you as a team, inside the locker room you have the confidence in each other and have some patience with each other to be successful.
I would say that's the first thing, and the second thing would be the willingness to do it. It's easy to say and to want to be good, but the willingness to day-in and day-out be committed to winning a championship takes a lot of work. But when you're doing it together, it becomes a mission and a lot of fun. That's what I hope to bring to the young guys.
Kevyn, what made you choose #17 for your jersey number? -- Sean Furlow, Naperville, Illinois
Well, I looked at the roster and got a call from Troy, the equipment manager. I saw that Sergei Samsonov had already been traded and grabbed #14. I had worn #14 for a number of years, so I quickly shifted gears and started thinking. I kind of wanted a fresh start and a number I hadn't worn before and had always liked # 17. It's a number that's significant to me and it's something that just felt right, and your number is important to a player so it had to feel right.
What do you see that is similar with the 2007 Hawks that can be compared to your 2005-06 'Canes? -- Pete Rowley, Missouri
First thing right away, there's a mix of incredibly young talent and some veterans. In Carolina, we had Eric Staal, a 21 year-old come out and have an incredible season. And we had Cam Ward, the rookie goalie win the Conn Smythe. We had a lot of young guys step up and play big roles, but we had a number of us older guys that have been around who were able to really fill different roles as well. So that's probably one of the biggest things I see.
Also, one thing people forget about Carolina that year is people picked us to finish last in the league. I'm not totally sure where people are picking Chicago, but coming off a few seasons without making the playoffs, people may not have as high expectations outside the locker room.
Do you expect the Blackhawks to make a serious run deep in the playoffs this year, or do you expect that getting experience for the young talent on the team will be the main priority? -- Dave, Huntley, IL
I think they go hand in hand. I think experience and success come from putting yourself in the position to be successful and to get a deep playoff run. I think the biggest mistake teams and individuals can make in this league is to underestimate the now -- to look down the road and say, well, we have some young players and hopefully two or three years down the road we'll be ready. I think that you're doing yourself a disservice if you think like that. You have to have realistic expectations of getting better and better as the season goes on and hopefully that puts you in the position come playoff time that you're knocking on the door, and that's what we need to do.
The Hawks seem to have loaded up on the center position this off-season. Have you ever played the wing position during your career and how comfortable are you on the wings? -- Brad Thomas, Rolling Meadows, IL
That's one of the things I said right away. I'll play whatever position they want me to play -- left wing, right wing, center, I'm completely comfortable playing either wing. In fact, last year because of my wrist -- I had two wrist surgeries -- I played more wing than center and have played plenty of wing in my career. So whatever they want me to play I'll play. Obviously faceoffs have always been a big part of my game and I've enjoyed doing that. So wherever they want me to be I'll be happy and comfortable doing it.
Hey Kevyn. I'd like to welcome you to Chicago and be the first to recommend Giordano's deep dish pizza when you're searching for the best food in Chicago. How did you feel after hearing you were headed this way, and are there any players on our roster that you are familiar with or have a relationship with? -- David, Morton Grove, IL
I am absolutely thrilled to be coming to Chicago. I can't tell you how excited I was when I got the news. I got on a plane a couple of days later and got into town to figure out where to live and that kind of stuff. So I am very excited about it and about the opportunity and the role I'll be able to play.
In terms of guys I've played with... Yanic Perreault twice in my career now, in Toronto early in my career and in Phoenix last year. I know Danny Richmond from my Carolina days. Pat Kane, the first pick is originally from Buffalo. I had never met him but called him after he was drafted to congratulate him and to invite him out to my golf tournament. So I was able to get him out there.
What is your thought process on going into a faceoff? -- Skip, Midwest
It depends where it is. Sometimes it's in your own zone, so you're certainly not going to be trying something out of the ordinary. You're going to try to make sure you do your job and win the draw, also keeping in mind your defensive responsibilities. In the neutral zone, maybe you can try different things to change steps so people don't get a book on you as easily. In the offensive zone you're trying to setup offensive plays. You want to win a draw in a certain place to give your team an opportunity to get a shot on goal or to score.
I like to know who I'm going against, and being around for a while I kind of know the guys in the league pretty well. It's certainly something you need to take seriously because it's an important part of the game. The more you have the puck the better your chances are at the end of the game, and that's what winning faceoffs does; it keeps the puck on your team's stick.
Being new to the Blackhawks, can you tell the fans what the perception of your new team is around the NHL? -- Bill Gernant, Houston, TX
I think right now they've committed to stockpiling some good young players and I think the perception around the league is that the kids that they've been loading up on are now ready to go. They've got a couple of young forwards and they've got the young defensemen that have been in the NHL for a little while, so I think the perception out there is a team that's up-and-coming. I don't think it's necessarily a bad thing for us to be under the radar a little bit and keep getting better and better as the year goes on. Like I said earlier, when push comes to shove you're knocking on the door and you can have a chance.
What is it about playing U.S. college hockey that differentiates you from others in the NHL who came from the QMJHL or other International developmental programs? Would you recommend that same path to others, or would you do it differently if given a second chance? -- Chad Pilkington, Denver, CO
It completely depends on who you are, where you are, and what type of future you want to have. If you're Pat Kane, the #1 overall pick, I think major junior is the way to go because it's a fast track to the NHL. For me, I was committed to getting my degree from, even after getting drafted after my freshman year I stayed and got my degree from the University of Miami-Ohio. I just thought that was an important thing for me to do. It worked out great for me, but it's an individual decision that depends on where you are and how professionally ready you are. I certainly don't think you can go wrong playing any division I college hockey. You get your education paid for and if you do your work you come out with a degree and that's the best of both worlds.