Blackhawks Convention weekend is normally all about excitement, optimism and fans getting a chance to meet their heroes up close.
But a certain pall was cast over this edition — at least in the media room before the events kicked off — as players were asked how tough it was to hear the news of Marian Hossa being unable to play next season due to a skin condition.
“It’s sad news and it kind of caught everyone off guard because he was such a professional about it, we really didn’t know how bad it was,” said Patrick Kane. “You feel from him because we know he loves to play hockey, we know he wants to be here in Chicago. So we’ll miss him. It’ll be exciting to see him when we get the chance.”
Kane and Jonathan Toews said they reached out to Hossa, who still has four years remaining on the 12-year deal he signed on July 1, 2009.
“You respect his decision,” Toews said. “It’s heartbreaking what he has to go through when you know it’s too soon. You saw what he was doing out there on the ice.
“It doesn’t say much, but in my opinion he was by far our best player in the playoff series against Nashville. He’s got a ton left on the table.”
GM Stan Bowman hasn’t talked to Hossa since the end of June, when the veteran made the announcement. Although many believe Hossa will never again play in the NHL, Bowman refused to go down that road.
“It’s better to try to stay in the now.” Bowman said. “We know where we’re at right now and then we’ll address that other stuff as we get to it down the road.”
Tommy Wingels fractured his left foot during off-season training, but with a 6-8 week projected recovery time, the Hawks said the winger will be ready for training camp. Wingels, who is from Wilmette, signed a one-year contract when free agency opened. The Hawks are hoping the hard-nosed 29-year-old will be a mainstay on the fourth line.
Alex DeBrincat didn’t score during Friday’s scrimmage at Prospect Camp at Johnny’s IceHouse West, but his team prevailed 6-2 thanks to goals by Jack Ramsey (2), Nathan Noel, Brogan Rafferty, Radovan Bondra and Dylan Sikura. Team Red got goals from Winfield’s Anthony Louis and Vincent Praplan.
Ramsey, taken by the Hawks in the seventh round in 2014, has scored just 1 goal in two seasons at Minnesota while skating on the third and fourth lines.
“I think I have a lot more potential than I guess I’ve showed in the past,” Ramsey said. “I’ve got two more years of college, so I’ve got a lot of hockey left to prove what kind of player I can be. Every year I come out here, I gain confidence and I try to bring it back to Minnesota.”
Sikura stands out:
Dylan Sikura’s goal was perhaps the prettiest of Friday’s scrimmage as he fought off a defender and buried a slap shot late in the third period.
Sikura, a sixth-round pick, plans to return to Northeastern for his senior season despite the Hawks offering him an entry-level deal. GM Stan Bowman lauded Sikura’s efforts this week, adding he isn’t disappointed in Sikura’s decision not to sign.
“He feels like there’s some unfinished business at school,” Bowman said. “He wants to get his degree. You got to be supportive of that. …
“We went through this with John Hayden and Stephen Johns. A lot of guys in the past, Anthony Louis, have stayed four years, so that’s not a problem for us.”
Sikura had 21 goals and 36 assists in 38 games last season.
He said it:
“I may have to wrestle him for it.”
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