The Chicago Blackhawks have come a long way since hiring head coach Joel Quenneville. That fact might not be clearer in the fact that there were murmurs about a potential departure after two “disappointing” first-round exits following the team’s resounding Stanley Cup run in 2010. You can put those rumors to bed, however, as Quenneville told Chris Boden and others “that was never in the cards.”
“I love everything about what we have here,” Quenneville said. “I have two more years left (on my contract) and I’m happy here. Nothing gave me an indication that [a departure] was on the horizon.”
That doesn’t mean that everything will be the same next season, however. The Blackhawks decided to part ways with one assistant (Mike Haviland) and keep Mike Kitchen in the mix. Adam Jahns and others note that Quenneville is very close with Kitchen but Coach Q made two stern claims: this wasn’t a matter of cronyism and he’s calling the shots as far as his assistants go.
On “dysfunction” in the coaching staff: “I knew it could be better but there was dysfunction” and Blackhawks GM Stan Bowman “provided opportunity for change.”
Haviland’s the one out of a job, but Quenneville told the press that much of the failures were on his head.
“I feel like I should be absorbing as much as anybody,” Quenneville said. “I take ownership for what happened this year.”
It’s not surprising that the Blackhawks are sticking with a coach who won them a recent Cup and navigated some choppy post-cap-purge waters, but the calls for his head will get louder if Chicago doesn’t make good on its talented core again. If that happens, he’ll at least go down fighting with “his guys.”
As if Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Final couldn’t get any more dramatic, it has — Tampa Bay captain Steve Stamkos, who hasn’t played since Mar. 31, will make his playoff debut against the Penguins tonight.
Stamkos underwent vascular surgery in early April to correct a blood clotting issue, and has remained on blood thinners ever since. While there’s been no confirmation he’s off medication, he did tell Sportsnet he’d be able to return to the lineup once he was.
Stamkos reiterated that he’s still on the same prescription of blood thinners he was given earlier this month. He takes a 12-hour dosage, twice a day, and it has been suggested to him that once he is cleared to stop taking the medication, Stamkos conceivably could return to the Lightning lineup almost immediately.
That’s why I’m trying to stay in shape,” he said.
Per NHL.com, Stamkos took the warmup and participated in line rushes centering Ondrej Palat and Ryan Callahan.
It’s been exactly eight weeks since Stamkos played his last game. At the time of his diagnosis, the Lightning said his timetable for recovery was 1-3 months.
To say his return will be a boost is a major understatement. Aside from the emotional factor, Stamkos led the Bolts in goals this year, with 36, and would presumably spark a power play that’s gone just 2-for-12 in the series.
Steve Stamkos took the team bus to tonight’s Eastern Conference Game 7 in Pittsburgh. As TVA noted, it was the first time he’s arrived early for a game in these playoffs.
In his pregame presser, Bolts head coach Jon Cooper refused to answer any questions about Stamkos’ availability.
And then Stamkos took the warmup.
As such, the drama surrounding Tampa Bay’s captain has reached an all-time high. Stamkos, who’s been out of the lineup since early April due to blood clots, looks as though he’s on the verge of an emotional comeback as the Lightning try to win an ECF Game 7 — on the road — for a second consecutive season.
“If Stamkos is in the lineup, it’s our best foot forward,” Cooper said. “If he’s not in the lineup, it’s because he wasn’t eligible to play.”
No word if No. 91 is still on the blood thinning medication he’s been taking since undergoing vascular surgery on Apr. 4.
EDINA, Minn. (AP) Minnesota Wild left wing Zach Parise has been rehabilitating his back injury without surgery, putting him on track to be at full strength by September.
Parise said Thursday he’s “happy with the way everything’s going.” He said he’s been able to work out as he normally does during the summer, despite missing the playoffs because of the injury.
Parise said there’s “no question” he’ll be ready to play for Team USA in the World Cup of Hockey tournament.
Parise joined teammates Erik Haula, Jason Pominville, Nate Prosser, Jared Spurgeon and Jason Zucker at an autograph signing to raise money for people affected by the wildfires in Alberta. The parents of Spurgeon’s wife, Danielle, lost their home to a fire in the Edmonton area.