It’s pre-season in the NHL, that time of year when professional hockey teams look to prepare for the long season ahead. Chicago Blackhawks general manager Stan Bowman has put together a training camp roster that will hopefully translate into a winning team able to recover that familiar playoff swagger. Game one was against the Columbus Blue Jackets.
Chicago Blackhawks Return To The Ice
Training camp kicked off last Friday and included the very popular Fan Festival this past weekend. The excited Chicago Blackhawks fans are looking forward to a successful season and hoping for another run to the Stanley Cup Finals. Coach Quenneville and his assistants are evaluating a large training camp roster consisting of the Hawks core, recent draft picks, players already in their minor leagues systems, as well as several veterans getting a look on PTO contracts. (Professional Try Outs).
2017 Pre-season Games Begin
After several days of training camp, the Hawks played their first preseason game against the Columbus Blue Jackets. Coming off their best season, Columbus would be a great early test for the Hawks.
Here are the players the Blackhawks started in game one of the preseason:
73 Will Pelletier, 8 Nick Schmaltz
31 Anton Forsberg, 30 Jeff Glass, 90 Matt Tomkins
Yes, you read that game roster correctly. A lot of fans tuning into the game were probably confused too. It’s very reminiscent of the “Who are these guys?” scene in the movie Major League. Welcome to the NHL preseason, where teams are trying to get a look at as many players as possible. Training camp has been open for five days, and cut downs begin soon. The road to the playoff begins October 5th, no time to waste.
The Chicago Blackhawks have four veteran players on PTO contracts. Of the four vets, defenseman Cody Franson is the most likely to secure a contract offer. The Blackhawks need to fill some gaps on defense after trading away Niklas Hjalmarsson, losing Trevor van Riemsdyk to expansion, losing Brian Campbell to retirement, and Johnny Oduya to free agency.
The 30-year-old unrestricted free agent Franson had another off-season being patient waiting for contract offers. Franson received several offers this summer, but chose to pursue a PTO deal with the Blackhawks earlier this month. A veteran of four teams and 527 games over eight seasons, he could be a nice addition to the Hawks back line.
From the September 15th, 2017 CSN Chicago article by Tracey Myers:
Franson on his contract:
“”For some reason it’s been one of those things where the contracts kind of had to wait,” he said on Friday. “It’s something that’s always happened that way for me, I don’t really know why. I have a chip on my shoulder about it and I want to go out there and right some wrongs.”
From his new team:
“We skate together in the summer. We know each other pretty good,” Brent Seabrook said. “I think he’s a big body, can move pretty good and he likes to make plays and he’s got a huge shot. Another big physical presence back there. Could be good.”
Coach Joel Quenneville agreed.
“He has a lot of attributes you look for in a defenseman: big, mobile, can shoot the puck and has some experience,” he said. “It’s a good opportunity for him to show his stuff here in scrimmages. He gives us some size and is something nice to look at.”
The Blackhawks came out motiivated and hungry in this game. They played solid defensively and scored five unanswered goals in the first two periods. Former Columbus Blue Jacket goalie Anton Forsberg looked solid all night in net for the Hawks. The Blackhawks ended up winning 5-2. Cody Franson played well defensively and also chipped in with a goal and an assist. Another Hawk player who stood out was Nick Schmaltz with a goal and an assist.
NHL Officials are also in their preseason training camp. Two areas of focus this season are slashing and faceoffs. The NHL is cracking down on the stick work and cheating at the dot. Both of those areas were obvious last night with five slashing and two faceoff violations being called.
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