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No change in Chicago: Blackhawks bringing Quenneville, Bowman back

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The Chicago Blackhawks won’t be overreacting to one bad season after a decade of success. On Thursday, team president John McDonough announced that both head coach Joel Quenneville and general manager Stan Bowman will return for the 2018-19 NHL season.

“I believe in continuity [and] they’ve had an incredible body of success,” McDonough said via the Chicago Sun-Times. “We’re not tethered to the past. This has been a very disappointing year and our expectations are incredibly high. We’re not going to deviate from those expectations. But I believe both Stan and Joel are the guys that are going to bring this back.”

[Which NHL teams will make a coaching change after the season?]

The Blackhawks will finish last in the Central Division and miss out on the playoffs for the first time since 2008. The biggest blow to their hopes was losing Crawford, who has been out since December with an upper-body injury. “We expect him to be fine” was the line from Quenneville this week about the goaltender’s status.

Quenneville still has two years and $12 million left on his contract, and if he would have been canned his unemployment wouldn’t have lasted very long considering the number of potential coaching changes that could happen around the league. Bowman, meanwhile, will have a busy summer with plenty of decisions to make. Chicago doesn’t have many contracts to deal with in the off-season, but Bowman’s focus could be trying to find ways to get out from some heavy contracts to bring in some new faces and hope it’s a different outcome next season.

Alex DeBrincat, Vinnie Hinostroza, Dylan Sikura and Nick Schmaltz represent some of the fresh blood that’s been productive this season, and the hope is they can be part of that next core in Chicago. In the meantime, the likes of Patrick Kane, Jonathan Toews, Duncan Keith, Brandon Saad and Crawford are taking up nearly $40 million cap space. Those seem like the safest bets to remain on the roster. So will Brent Seabrook and Artem Anisimov find themselves available? Are there any untouchables beyond Kane and Toews?

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Sean Leahy is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @Sean_Leahy.

Duncan Keith’s late winner helps strike blow to Blues’ playoff hopes

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Duncan Keith‘s goal with 8.5 seconds to go broke a 3-3 tie and gave the Chicago Blackhawks a 4-3 victory over the St. Louis Blues Wednesday night.

The Blues are still in pursuit of a wild card spot in the Western Conference, but with the loss remain a point behind the Colorado Avalanche with two games to go, including a Saturday night tilt vs. the Avs.

Chicago wanted to play spoiler for their Central Division rivals, with Blackhawks forward Alex DeBrincat saying before the game, “They’re a good team and they’re fighting for a playoff spot right now. We’re not going out there and just letting them take it. We want to crush their hopes.”

[The 2018 NHL Stanley Cup playoffs begin April 11 on the networks of NBC]

It was looking good for the Blues early in the second period when Vladimir Tarasenko gave the home side a 3-1 lead. But St. Louis and Jake Allen began to falter minutes later. Blackhawks rookie Blake Hillman jumped into the rush and scored his first NHL goal with Chicago on a power play to cut the deficit to 3-2 midway through the period.

With DeBrincat wanting to “crush their hopes,” he backed up his words and tied the game with 11:30 to go, thanks to some more questionable goaltending by Allen.

The self-destruction of the Blues continued as Chris Butler took a holding penalty with two minutes to go. The Blackhawks waited until the very end of that power play to capitalize, with Keith finally notching his second goal of the season and also sending the Los Angeles Kings to playoffs in the process.

Your thoughts, Doug Armstrong?

And as if the Blues haven’t been demonized enough by the Blackhawks, the two teams meet again Friday night at United Center. How soon will St. Louis be able to erase this one from memory and focus on the two biggest games of their season this weekend?

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Sean Leahy is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @Sean_Leahy.

WATCH LIVE: Chicago Blackhawks at St. Louis Blues

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NBCSN’s coverage of the 2017-18 season continues on Wednesday night as the St. Louis Blues host the Chicago Blackhawks at 8 p.m. ET. You can watch the game online by clicking here.

PROJECTED LINEUPS

St. Louis Blues
Jaden SchwartzBrayden SchennVladimir Tarasenko
Patrik BerglundKyle BrodziakAlex Steen
Dmitrij JaskinVladimir SobotkaTage Thompson
Ivan BarbashevOskar SundqvistChris Thorburn

Joel EdmundsonAlex Pietrangelo
Vince DunnColton Parayko
Chris Butler – Roberto Bortuzzo

Starting goalie: Jake Allen

[NHL on NBCSN: Blues need to pick up valuable points against Blackhawks]

[WATCH LIVE – 8 P.M. ET]

Chicago Blackhawks
Brandon SaadNick SchmaltzPatrick Kane
Dylan SikuraVictor EjdsellAlex DeBrincat
Tomas JurcoArtem AnisimovAndreas Martinsen
Patrick SharpDavid KampfVincent Hinostroza

Duncan KeithBrent Seabrook
Erik GustafssonConnor Murphy
Jordan Oesterle – Blake Hillman

Starting goalie: J.F. Berube

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Sean Leahy is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @Sean_Leahy.

USHL team invites Blackhawks’ Scott Foster to be their ’emergency accountant’

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Let’s hope that because it’s a holiday weekend Scott Foster was given Friday off, or at least allowed to leave early from his job at Golub Capital in order to recover and celebrate a pretty neat achievement from the night before.

On Thursday, Foster became a sensation when he was called into action by the Chicago Blackhawks. Serving as the team’s emergency backup goaltender, he was brought into the game when Collin Delia, starting in place of Anton Forsberg, who suffered a pre-game injury, started cramping in the third period.

Foster, an accountant and beer leaguer who played at Western Michigan over a decade ago, went from his spot in the Blackhawks’ press box to pulling on the pads and playing the final 14:01, stopping all seven shots he faced and earning first star honors during a 6-2 win over the Winnipeg Jets.

[The 2018 NHL Stanley Cup playoffs begin April 11 on the networks of NBC]

The Chicago Steel of the United States Hockey League can’t sign Foster due to the fact that its a league for 16-21 year olds. Foster is 36, so the only way he can be part of the team is to put his skills from his day job to good use for the junior hockey team.

On Friday, the Steel proposed to Foster that he should come join the team as the their emergency accountant.

“If Scott can handle itemized deductions as well as he handles a Dustin Byfuglien slap shot, he’ll be a great asset,” said Steel President Dan Lehv in a release that is chock-full of accounting puns. “To perform like he did, in the height of tax season, really showed us how well he can balance things.”

If Foster prefers to remain at Golub Capital, the Steel are hoping he will at least accept their invitation to do the ceremonial face-off honors before their Fan Appreciation Night game on April 13. From the sounds of it, he appears to be someone who isn’t intimidated by many situations. That’d be a good asset for the Steel to add to their organization.

“You think there’d be a lot of pressure,” Foster said Thursday night. “But really, tomorrow, I’m going to wake up, I’m going to button up my shirt and I’m going to go back to my day job. What pressure is there for me?”

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Sean Leahy is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @Sean_Leahy.

Scott Foster, accountant by day, makes NHL debut with Blackhawks

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Scott Foster’s night probably started the same way it does every night there’s a Chicago Blackhawks game in the Windy City.

He arrived at the arena as the emergency goalie with his equipment in tow before depositing it somewhere for safe keeping. Then, he makes his way up to the press box, gets his free meal with a guest he brought and settles down to watch the game from high above the ice surface at United Center.

Rinse and repeat.

Except for Thursday.

All of that preamble likely happened for Foster. He probably arrived at the rink at the same time, ate a nice press box meal and then settled into his comfy seat. But it’s unlikely he ever thought he’d be throwing his gear on, nevermind stepping onto the ice in his first professional hockey game.

That dream got one step closer to become a reality when Anton Forsberg going down in warm up, Foster likely took the rest of his pre-game meal in a to-go bag.

And when Collin Delia (also making his first pro start) went down injured in the third period with a 6-2 lead against the Winnipeg Jets, Foster likely threw up whatever he ate into the nearest garbage bin and then put his mask over his face before walking down the tunnel, past names like Kane and Keith and onto the ice in front of 20,000-plus.

You could say he was ready:

Foster then had some fun with his post-game media scrum:

Foster isn’t an easy man to find with a Google search. His HockeyDB page is pretty much it. He’s listed as a 6-foot, 185-pound goalie from Sarnia, Ont., who hasn’t played a meaningful game since the 2005-06 season when he was at Western Michigan.

That was well over a decade ago.

As of Thursday, Foster now has an update to add to that website.

Foster made seven saves on seven shots in his 14:01 of fame.

Look at Joel Quenneville’s smile:

And guess who was the night’s No. 1 star.

You can’t make this stuff up.


Scott Billeck is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @scottbilleck