Below is an excerpt from Director of Hockey Administration Mark Bernard's interview on the 2014-15 Blackhawks Insider podcast. Click here to hear the complete conversation.
On Scott Darling's first shutout on March 18 and his development this season:
Scott has gone about his business in a very professional way this year, right from the start of training camp. I would like to say that I'm surprised by that effort [against the Rangers], but I’m really not because he works extremely hard at practice and he makes sure that he is prepared and 100 percent ready to go when called upon. He knew his opportunities were going to come a little farther apart now that he is in Chicago, due to Corey Crawford, and he knew that he had to be prepared. I know he's doing a lot of work with Jimmy Waite for this opportunity. That’s the life of a backup goaltender in this league: You get the second game in two nights and usually travel, and you have two to three weeks in between starts and you're expected to perform.
I think a lot of people have always told him how much potential he has, and talking to Scott it was just one of those “Ah-ha” moments when he woke up one day in the SPHL. After all these people told him about all the potential he had, he is 6-foot-6 and moves well and has great athleticism and here he is playing in the fourth rung of professional hockey and I think that’s when he decided to get very, very serious in his training and the way that he carries himself both on and off the ice. He has put it all together, and in the last three years he has really risen from the ashes to where he is now. It’s all because of his hard work and his work ethic and his attitude. These are all things that he has control over, and he really took ahold of those and put in the time and now he is reaping the rewards.
On the new OT format in the AHL this year, and how it might work in the NHL:
Sitting on the Board of Governors in the American Hockey League, we decided last year that even though we weren’t asked to do it by the NHL, we wanted to implement it to try and remove more games from going to the shootout, try to resolve them whether it be 4-on-4 or 3-on-3 during the overtime period. It’s been a huge success. We played one last night in Rockford and it went to a shootout, but the shots in the overtime period were 8-5 and it's just up and back, and when it turns to 3-on-3 action, you can feel the electricity in the arena. People are excited because there are two-on-ones, breakaways, three-on-ones. It’s nonstop action for those few minutes, and I think it’s great for the game, great for the players and great for the fans. It’s very exciting.
On the decision to bring Keith Seabrook into the fold, and similarities with older brother Brent:
Some of our older defenseman like T.J. Brennan, Adam Clendening and Klas Dahlbeck had moved on and left us with little experience on the back end, with Kirill Gotovets and Dillon Fournier up from the ECHL – between the two of them I think they had about 12-14 games experience at the time. I was looking at a defenseman that maybe wasn’t a veteran in the American league, but had played some games. I really liked Keith’s game when he was playing for the Abbotsford Heat a few years back and when he was with San Antonio. I knew he was back playing this year. He had taken a year away from the game last year and he had signed a minor-league contract with the Bridgeport Sound Tigers in the American League, the New York Islanders affiliate. They had him playing in Stockton of the ECHL, so I inquired about him and they were willing to move him. I thought he would be a great fit for our team because obviously I know his character is very high and I liked him as a player, and he has done a great job for us.
I think there are a lot of similarities [between Keith and Brent], especially in their skating. There are just little idiosyncrasies that they do that are very similar. He's not afraid to join the rush. He makes a good first pass. He's physical. He’s not afraid to come to the aid of a teammate, and he’s got a great personality and work ethic. He fits in really well with our locker room in Rockford and he's going to be a nice addition down the stretch.