I wanted to introduce a new weekly feature this season with some observations that hopefully provide readers with an inside look of the Blackhawks.
With the lockout in full swing, I'll try to do as many as possible. Thursday seems like a good day do it (and it sounds good with "thoughts").
So here we go:
** These Jonathan Toews-led skates the Hawks have been going through and you've been reading about aren't the result of reporters merely looking for a good angle during a dire time for hockey.
It's all him.
Toews booked the ice and secured the locker room at Johnny's. He presented a place to the media to do interviews and he even acted as a PR guy, taking requests and sending out players from their cramped quarters.
On the ice, Toews has started both practices I've attended at the dry-erase board, diagramming drills as others take knees around him. It's unique to see a player so young take control of such a tough (or weird, as he has called it often) situation for every player.
"I try to look back in the old memory and try to figure out some good drills for everybody to keep our legs," Toews said. "We're only on the ice every so often. We've all trained hard all summer, so there's not much for me to do now at this point. It's like you do during the season -- just maintain."
** A lot of people in Twitterland made a big deal about Patrick Kane not being on the ice for Day 1 of the informal skates. I don't see why. It's not like he was the only regular or top player missing. I mean, Corey Crawford, the team's No. 1 goalie, isn't even here.
Kane was golfing Monday. He said he skated five days last week. He, like every player, doesn't know when he'll be playing hockey again in the NHL. It's OK if he takes a day off right now.
I get that Kane is the most scrutinized Hawk for a lot of reasons. But there was no reason for a call to arms Monday afternoon because he didn't show up on the West Side and skate with his teammates.This could be a long lockout people.
"I feel like I always work pretty hard in the offseason," Kane said. "I thought I worked as hard as I ever had last offseason. I just got unlucky with my wrist [surgery]. That kind of cuts things down. But I've skated a lot more this offseason. I look back at when I was the best I was [and] I skated a lot. There would be times throughout the summer I'd be on the ice three, four or five times a week. That's what I tried to get back to."
** Daniel Carcillo and his surgically repaired knee (torn left ACL) looked just fine out there. He was spinning around, skating hard and even managed to come up with a breakaway (he didn't score).
The Hawks are counting a lot on Carcillo. He's close to getting cleared, and while that may cost him some paychecks during the lockout, he doesn't sound like he would have it any other way.
"I feel sluggish; I haven't skated all that much lately," he said. "But it's good to get going again.
"If we started on time, it would be nine months (without playing). That's more than enough time."
** Carcillo, defenseman Steve Montador and winger Marian Hossa are three Hawks who can have contact with team doctors during the lockout since they're injured. Carcillo aptly called it being in a "grey area."
If they aren't cleared by the time the season is/was scheduled to start, they can receive paychecks. When they are cleared, the money will stop.
Neither Montador (concussion) nor Carcillo made it sound, though, as if that's a good position to be in. They made it clear getting healthy was their top priority.
** Marcus Kruger looked bigger and stronger. I know it was an informal scrimmage, but it also appeared as if he really improved his speed this offseason. More time in Rockford may actually be good for him in the long run.
** It's hard to miss the emotions players have displayed when talking about the lockout. The passion really came through Toews, Troy Brouwer and Brian Campbell this week.
If anything, it told me this could be a long lockout. They are ready to stand with the union. And, as we all should know, the owners won't back down, either.
** I was never a fan of a long preseason, so I wasn't exactly heartbroken that four games were lost when the cancellations were announced Wednesday. I find the preseason to be monotonous and frankly boring at times. I think most players would agree.
But they did serve a purpose. Aside from giving players a shot to prove themselves, the preseason gave fans opportunities to purchase cheaper tickets and see prospects and players they typically don't get a chance to.
I've met a few fans over the years who have only been able to attend preseason games here or around the league because they are priced out during the regular season and especially during the playoffs. Preseason games also are good opportunities to get group tickets.
** Seeing players away from the team and all the organizational procedure makes you realize how good, honest and approachable some of these guys can be -- or truly are -- if they're allowed to be. I guess the same can be said about most sports.