John Madden glided toward the goal, re-directed a pass over the shoulder of Hawks backup goalie Cristobal Huet and a cheer went up from his teammates during Thursday's practice.
Madden just smiled and continued the drill, preparing for Game 3 of the Western Conference Finals Friday at the United Center (8 p.m. ET, VERSUS, TSN, RDS). Chicago is up 2-0 in the series with San Jose, and Madden's postseason experience is becoming a boon for the young Hawks.
He isn't the loudest guy, nor does he score a ton of goals, but Madden still gets his voice heard in the locker room when needed. After winning two Stanley Cups with the New Jersey Devils before signing with Chicago over the summer, the grinding fourth-line center has earned that much.
"It's a nice feeling to know the guy beside you has got a couple of Cup rings on his shelf back home," said Hawks forward Patrick Sharp
, whose locker is next to Madden's. "He doesn't say much in the room, but when he says something everyone listens up. You know he's speaking the truth."
Madden is one of just three Hawks who have won the Cup, but he's the only one to win it more than once. He holds a wealth of postseason experience. That was a big reason he was sought after by the Hawks.
Now, he's using that experience to help focus his teammates. Madden's message after Thursday's practice was aimed at keeping them from prematurely celebrating. Now that Chicago is just two wins from advancing to the organization's first Stanley Cup Final since 1992, Madden knows the danger of getting too caught up in the buzz.
"Chicago is expecting some great things and so are we, but you want to take that excitement and use it on the ice," he said. "You've got to channel it the right way. You've got a lot of excitement, and that's great, but obviously you don't want to get caught up in all the talk that's going on. Maybe turn your radio off, turn your TV off and even turn your cell phone off, for that matter."
He hammered the message home by example, declining to speculate on what it would mean to him to win another Cup with the Hawks. He's also leading by example in avoiding the hype -- which is ramped up now that the Hawks have returned from trips to Vancouver and San Jose.
"I haven't really clicked my TV on at home," he said. "Kids wouldn't let me, because I haven't seen them in eight days. I really try not to get caught up in all that stuff, just from years of experience. You may get ahead of yourself and get complacent on the ice and think way ahead. That's not what you want to do."
Madden's stat line in the postseason isn't part of all the hype so far, with just 1 goal and a minus-3 rating. What he contributes most on the ice is a steady presence backchecking and piloting the Hawks' grind line -- which includes physical forwards Adam Burish and Ben Eager.
Madden is the perfect center for the line, using a somewhat salty disposition and grit to frustrate opposing lines. It also helps to have a former Selke Trophy winner like Madden on the ice when they get matched against highly-skilled opposing lines.
"That's his game," forward Kris Versteeg said of Madden. "He gets in the corners, he works hard and plays good at both ends. He brings a strong veteran presence for us."
Author: Brian Hedger | NHL.com Correspondent