Category Archives: News and Notes

Summer Hockey Ops Changes: Blackhawks increase scouting staff, Hold steady on analytics

By Chris Block

There’s been plenty of change on and off the ice this off season in Chicago.

The Blackhawks have added several new professional and amateur scouts to the Hockey Operations department. There are also some changes in the developmental staff and a few departures of note.

New Goaltending Developmental Coach

When Andrew Allen joined the Buffalo Sabres as their new NHL goaltending coach this summer, it created a coaching vacancy on the Rockford IceHogs’ staff and in the Blackhawks developmental realm.

That hole was filled this week when the organization hired Peter Aubry away from the Lake Superior State Lakers (WCHA) where he coached the Lakers’ defense and helped out with the goaltenders.

Aubry, 38, is a former goaltender who was an assistant on the Lake Superior staff for one season. Prior to that, he was an assistant for Mercyhurst College, his alma mater (1998-02), for three years. Mercyhurst is located in Erie, Pennsylvania. Read more »


Blackhawks hold mini-camp in Sweden this week; Artemi Panarin’s first team workouts

By Chris Block

With just about a month to go before the Blackhawks open NHL training camp in Chicago, players will be accelerating their off season workout regimens in preparation for the season.

Some players who will partake in the rookie tournament in early September will need to be in peak condition sooner.

With that in mind, the Blackhawks, in cooperation with the Djurgarden hockey club in Stockholm, are conducting a conditioning mini-camp this week in Sweden.

It’s an annual summer tradition now for the club, organized by Barry Smith, the Blackhawks Director of Player Development.

Players expected to take part in this week’s mini-camp include: Read more »


News on Chicago Blackhawks Prospect Camp

By Chris Block

The annual summer Chicago Blackhawks Prospect and development camp opens this Sunday at Johnny’s IceHouse West in Chicago and continues through Friday July 17th.

The full roster of attendees will be released by the team soon. Virtually all recent Blackhawks unsigned draft picks will participate as well as many current Rockford IceHogs players.

As always, the organization will lure many free agents from the NCAA, junior hockey and Europe for the six day camp.

Goaltending, perhaps, has become the most intriguing position of all now for the team with the front office moving Antti Raanta last month and honoring Anders Nilsson’s trade request last week.

Kyle Hayton (21, St. Lawrence-NCAA), Connor LaCouvee (21, Boston University-NCAA) and Stefan Steen (22, Vaxjo Lakers-Swedish Hockey League) are three goaltenders who have accepted free agent invites and are expected to be in camp on Sunday. Read more »


Hawks say goodbye to Antti Raanta; Now look to solve depth goaltending puzzle again

By Chris Block

For the time being, goaltending is suddenly in short supply once again for the Blackhawks.

On Saturday after completion of the NHL Entry Draft, Hawks general manager Stan Bowman traded goaltender Antti Raanta to the New York Rangers in exchange for minor league forward Ryan Haggerty.

Haggerty, 22, will be a second year pro this coming season. He posted 15 goals and 18 assists in playing all 76 regular season games for the Hartford Wolf Pack in 2014-15. Haggerty notched 2 goals and 4 assists in 14 playoff games for Hartford.

The undrafted right winger out of R.P.I. is a Stamford, CT native and figures to add nice layer of scoring to the IceHogs.

Haggerty is familiar with IceHogs rookie defenseman Michael Paliotta. The due played two seasons together in the United States National Development Team Program. Haggerty is six weeks older than Paliotta. Read more »


Salary Cap and Reality of Off Season Now Set; A look at Blackhawks position and options

[As I noted on Twitter last week, our Summer Blackhawks prospect rankings, originally scheduled for release on Monday, will be delayed due to a family emergency that had me pulled away and out of town last week. I don’t want to commit to a new date just yet, but I am working on it. The draft has taken precedent now. Thanks to all who sent nice notes the past week. I was off the grid for the most part. To those I didn’t get back to, I do appreciate it.]

By Chris Block

Today will kick-off our draft week coverage with the requisite state of the Blackhawks roster business in the wake of the salary cap becoming official for next season.

The Blackhawks currently do not own a 1st round selection in the NHL Draft this Friday in Sunrise, Florida. Chicago occupies just 2 spots over the initial 120 picks in the 2015 NHL Draft. You can expect that to change between now and this weekend, with the Hawks eyeing picks in return for some currently rostered players. Of course, a lot of that has to do with the situation the Blackhawks are in now because of new contracts kicking in, others still to be hammered out and the salary cap being the primary enemy of the defending Stanley Cup Champs.

2015-16 Salary Cap Guidelines Set

NHL released its parameters for the 2015-16 salary cap on Tuesday in conjunction with the National Hockey League Players Association per terms of the Collective Bargaining Agreement.

The new “upper limit” is set at $71.4 million, up $2.4M from the 2014-15 season. Read more »


Rockford IceHogs look to make franchise history


By Chris Block

The IceHogs return home on Wednesday night from last week’s 2-1 road trip when they host the Charlotte Checkers at the BMO Harris Bank Center in downtown Rockford.

Rockford closes out its regular season this week with three home games. They’ll welcome the Chicago Wolves on Friday, and the Toronto Marlies on Saturday night to wrap the season with 3 games in 4 nights.

Ted Dent’s team has solidified a playoff spot and now eyes a chance to win the Midwest division, currently led by the Grand Rapids Griffins, the affiliate of the Detroit Red Wings. The IceHogs failed to qualify for postseason the past four years. They haven’t won a playoff game since Game 5 of the Conference semi-final series with the Chicago Wolves in 2008. Rockford is 0-10 in AHL playoff contests since that Game 5 in 2008. The AHL record for consecutive playoff losses is 12, set by the Buffalo Bisons in the 1950s.

Grand Rapids is one point up on Rockford. They close out the season with a 3-in-3 starting Thurday; three winnable games at Lake Erie and then home for a back-to-back set against Charlotte. Grand Rapids also currently holds the first tie-breaker, regulation wins, 42 to the IceHogs’ 41. So, Rockford will need help from Lake Erie and/or Charlotte in addition to picking up a minimum of 5 of 6 points if they’re to have a shot at jumping Grand Rapids and winning the division. Read more »


Who cleared Kane, and at what risk?

By Chris Block

Patrick Kane returns tonight for the Blackhawks, seven weeks to the day since surgery to repair his fractured left collarbone. Of course, Kane’s return coincides with Game 1 of the Western Conference Quarter-Final series in Nashville against the Predators.

Original projections for Kane’s return were pegged by Blackhawks lead medical physician Dr. Michael Terry at 10 to 12 weeks.

Kane was medically cleared to return to action on Monday, less than 7 weeks since the surgery.

But who cleared Kane?

The Blackhawks released a short, and peculiar statement on Monday that was worded quite interestingly, evidently by Terry himself.

The following statement was issued [Monday April 13th] by Chicago Blackhawks Head Team Physician Dr. Michael Terry:

Patrick Kane suffered a broken left clavicle on February 24, and underwent successful surgery to repair the fracture on February 25. Patrick has been working extremely diligently with his rehabilitation and has recently returned to full-contact practice without any difficulty.

After discussions with Patrick and the team, and examining Patrick today, we collectively feel it is appropriate, with minimal risk, for him to return to full participation.”

That’s an incredible final sentence, there. Read more »


Blackhawks-Predators Quarter-Final Schedule



Rockford IceHogs Media Day Stuff; TVR debut now imminent, Broadhurst sets date, Keith Seabrook set to play, Power play numbers

By Chris Block

A few news items here coming out of Tuesday’s Rockford IceHogs weekly media day huddles.

Alex Broadhurst Targeting Return

Right now, Alex Broadhurst is aiming for March 21st or 22nd as his return from the broken left arm he suffered on Black Wednesday evening back in November. Broadhurst suffered the break to the bone just above his left elbow on a hit from Iowa Wild forward Curt Gogol.

Broadhurst, who turned 22 on March 7th, had a forgettable start to this 2014-15 season. He was healthy scratched 5 times in 20 games and when he did dress, Broadhurst skated a lot of fourth line minutes. In 15 games, the center has 0 goals and 2 assists.

While an injury like that is never welcome, there is some good that came out of it.

Broadhurst on Tuesday said that he’s now in the best physical condition of his life as he’s had nothing to do for the past two months but workout and train for his return. The time away could be good for him in another sense in that his auspicious beginning to the season can be long forgotten now. Read more »


Rockford’s goal troubles: Numbers and numbers; Mark McNeill says no more raking leaves

Hartman_Ryan_2014Dec30_IceHogsRyan Hartman – Photo credit: Rockford IceHogs Hockey

By Chris Block

Thanks to a terrific start to the season, the Rockford IceHogs still sit atop the MidWest Division a little past the halfway point of the AHL season.

But the past six weeks have been a struggle for the IceHogs. The team’s offense some nights is almost non-existent and the gap between Rockford and nearest contenders, Milwaukee and Chicago has narrowed.

When the IceHogs win they’re averaging 3.7 goals for versus 1.7 against.

In Rockford’s 19 losses (23-13-4-2), they’ve scored just 1.4 goals per game, while the goaltenders allowed 2.9 against.

“We got four goals [Friday, a 4-0 home ice win over Iowa], which was nice,” said IceHogs’ coach, Ted Dent.

“We haven’t had four goals in a long time. So, we’ll just keep chipping away at it.”

Since Thanksgiving, Rockford has put up 4 goals or more just 4 times. That represents a total of 22 games in which the IceHogs have averaged 2.09 goals for per game. Rockford’s record since Thanksgiving is 8-9-4-1. Two of those wins came via the shootout. Read more »