Video: A look into the second-line center struggle

Regardless of the Hawks loss in the Western Conference Finals, they had a successful season. However, like all teams, there are some areas that need to be addressed this offseason. As we’ve seen in years past, the Hawks have struggled to maintain a consistent second-line center. I take a look into second-line center position and possible solutions including prospect Teuvo Teravainen.

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A look into Kevin Hayes

There are quite a few potential prospects for the Blackhawks this upcoming season. Kevin Hayes, a 2010 draft pick by the Hawks, has been a hot topic lately.

Hayes just finished up a successful four years at Boston College where he ended as a finalist for the Hobey Baker Award as well as one of the nation’s top point producers. Hayes had 27 goals and 38 assists in his final season with Boston College and earned MVP honors at the annual Beanpot tournament. His ability to play both center and wing is exactly the versatility the Hawks look for in an offensive player.

“He’s 22 years old, so he’s not in that 19-year-old category. He may not be a guy who has to spend a long time developing. So that’s the benefit of leaving a player in college for four years,” Stan Bowman said. “He’s got a lot of talent.

 He played his first three years as center and this last year he was on the wing. It’s certainly nice to see him be able to do both. He’s got the combination of size and skill and that’s hard to find.”

The Hawks own Hayes’ rights through Aug. 15, however it’s still unsure if he will actually sign with the Hawks or not.  Due to his team being eliminated from the Frozen Four, Hayes has had the option to sign with the Hawks since April. Hayes spent Game 5 of the Western Conference Finals at the United Center where Bowman spoke with him.

His brother, Jimmy  Hayes was traded from the Hawks to the Florida Panthers this past season, most likely adding to his skepticism of having a place in the line-up and delaying his decision to sign. Regardless, Bowman has remained hopeful that Hayes will sign with the Hawks.

“We said since the day we finished school we’ve been talking to him all year and all four years of college,” Bowman said. “We want to sign him. I think he just wanted to take his time and decide what’s best for him. [We’re] very hopeful that he wants to be part of our group.”

Hopefully for the Hawks, Hayes does decide to sign. He has the opportunity to really add to the team and give the Hawks further depth as his career progresses. And who knows, he could turn into the second-line center that the Hawks have been looking to fill.

“I think when he sees the way that we play.” Bowman said. “His skill set is very comparable to the players that have had success here. I think it’s a great fit for Kevin.”

Late day links

The Blackhawks are officially in offseason and Game 2 of the Stanley Cup Finals is underway.  There’s still plenty of hockey to discuss.

Looking to next year, Kevin Hayes still in the picture.

Still looking at those Blackhawks ratings that broke records.

In case you missed it, Pat Foley honored with Hall of Fame.

Who could be on the chopping block for next season?

What’s on the agenda for the Blackhawks this summer?

Gameday for the Los Angeles Kings and New York Rangers.

 

Chicago sports podcast

I teamed up with Chicago Cubs blogger Jaclyn Driscoll to take a look at Chicago sports fans and what drives their loyalty. We also give you our predictions for when each of the major Chicago sports teams will have their next championship win.

Post season mailbag

Since the Blackhawks season has come to an end, there are some critical questions that need answered. I’m here to answer them with my last mailbag of the 2013-2014 season.

Ryan from Addison writes:  With what we’ve seen from Coach Q and his understanding of the pulse of this team, has he clearly established himself as the best coach in the NHL?

Courtney Terlecki: I talk about this in one of my video blogs. I do believe that he’s established himself as one of the best coaches in the NHL. Coach Q is the only active head coach with two titles.His regular season points percentage is also the highest in Blackhawks franchise history.  And it really doesn’t look like that will be the end for him. The way the Blackhawks are trending, they’ll continue to be Stanley Cup contenders for years to come.  It’s not just what he’s done overall as a coach, but what he’s done for the Hawks franchise and hockey in Chicago. The Hawks have come a long way since Coach Q has taken over. In his six years coaching the Hawks, they’ve gone to the playoffs every year. The Hawks didn’t make the playoffs the five previous seasons before Coach Q took over in the 2008-2009 season.

Vince from Chicago writes:  Since the Hawks lost in Game 7, would you still consider it a good season because they came back to a Game 7 in the Western Conference Finals, or is it a failed season without winning the cup?

Courtney Terlecki:  Everything feels different when you’re defending a cup.  On most years, making it as far as the Hawks did and coming back from being down 3-1 would be a huge accomplishment.  But when you’re coming off a Stanley Cup victory, being that close and missing it is definitely hard to swallow.  That being said, no it was not a failed season at all.  The Hawks had a lot to be proud of. They ended the season ranked seventh with 46 wins and 21 losses.  Not too bad. They got to see a lot of their young players like Brandon Saad grow and develop. And they made it to the Western Conference Finals and lost in Game 7 by one goal in overtime.  Most teams would call that a successful season.

Jakub from Michigan writes:  At age 32, should the Blackhawks try to trade Patrick Sharp while he still has value?

Courtney Terlecki:  While Patrick Sharp seemed to be missing in the playoffs this year, it’s hard to look past what he continues to do for the Blackhawks franchise.  He had a successful regular season leading the team in goals with 34 and points with 78.  While I think trading him may actually be a possibility and we could gain some young prospects, I still feel like he plays an important part in the Hawks dynamic and core.

Jaclyn from Chicago writes:  What do you think of Coach Q saying Kane and Toews are Hawks top priority?

Courtney Terlecki:  I think that we all knew this was going to be a big priority.  Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews have both been critical players in the Hawks Stanley Cup wins as well as just our playoff success in general.  If we want to continue to dominate as a team, it’s pivotal that we keep our core team.  I’m glad that they’re making it a priority, and it will be interesting to see what Kane and Toews ask for.

Thanks for the questions, and as always feel free to send me any of your questions here or @coco_terlecki  Until next season!

Video: The good and the bad of Coach Joel Quenneville

Six full seasons under his belt with the Blackhawks, I talk about the successes and what we love about head coach Joel Quenneville. But I also take a look into some of the things I hope to see from him next year. It’s not often that we hear anything negative about Coach Q, but there are always things to improve on.

Poll: Who was the biggest disappointment in the 2014 Blackhawks postseason?

While we’ve already voted on who we think was most valuable for the Blackhawks this postseason, there were definitely some players who underperformed.  Of course, there’s always also those players who could be argued either way, including Corey Crawford.  Here’s a look at our contenders for most disappointing:

Corey Crawford: Yes, Crawford was also mentioned in my poll for the Blackhawks 2014 playoffs MVP.  But most people could really argue for him either way, that love/hate relationship fans have for Crawford.  One of the biggest differences is how he fared this year compared to last years Stanley Cup run. He ended the 2013 playoffs with a .932 save percentage and 1.84 goals against average. Those are difference makers.

Patrick Sharp: Once a clutch player for the Blackhawks, we spent a majority of the postseason wondering where is Sharp? He ended the playoffs with five goals and five assists but a minus-2. Two of his playoff goals happened in Game 7 of the Western Conference Finals against the Los Angeles Kings. Sharp was a top scorer for the Blackhawks in the 2014 regular season and fell short in the postseason. He had 60 shots on goal this postseason but only a 8.3 shooting percentage.

Kris Versteeg: One goal, two assists and a minus-5 in 15 playoff games played. Versteeg has underperformed to say the least. A versatile forward from the Blackhawks 2010 Stanley Cup run, Versteeg saw little ice time as the postseason progressed and was even scratched three times by Coach Joel Quenneville. While he did suffer a knee injury last season, Versteegs’ difficulty on offense added to the Blackhawks lack of depth.

Michal Handzus: While he did have the game winner in the Western Conference Finals Game 5 that kept the Blackhawks alive, Handzus was another underperformer. A key player from the Blackhawks 2013 Stanley Cup run, his lack of speed added to the Blackhawks struggle for a second-line center. Handzus ended the postseason with two goals, one assist and a minus-8.

Although I only listed four, feel free to fill in with who you thought was the biggest disappointment of the Blackhawks 2014 playoffs.

Late day links

Although the Blackhawks season has come to an end, there’s still a lot to talk about this offseason. The hockey season also isn’t over for everyone yet.

The Western Conference Finals Game 7 at least set some records.

All the other wonderful things Chicago sports fans have to look forward to this summer.

Hawks sum up the season through a live stream.

Relive the top 10 plays from the Western Conference Finals through video.

Oh yea, there’s still the Stanley Cup Finals that begin Wednesday night.

An interesting comparison to the Los Angeles Kings now, to the team that won the Cup in 2012.

Now that the playoffs are almost concluded, the 2014 draft list is almost set.

Why the Hawks have a lot to look forward to next year

After falling one goal short of going to consecutive Stanley Cup Finals, talking about next year still stings.

The Blackhawks have a lot to look forward to in the years to follow.

Read More…

How the Hawks lost Game 7

By now, we’re all slowly coming to terms with the end of the Blackhawks season. It has not been an easy loss to swallow.

Read More…

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