There’s a feel-good aura surrounding the Chicago Blackhawks of late. They’re competitive, they’re progressing, and they’re finding ways to win. The team that wasn’t supposed to be any good is currently 9-5-4, having won seven of their last nine games. Turns out, success breeds confidence. It also leads to some “happy humans”, as the infamous Blackhawks’ broadcaster Pat Foley would say. The Blackhawks are finding success on the ice, and they also appear to be having fun in the process. Here are some recent items of note from the team to support this theory.
Colliton Getting Comfortable
Last Monday the Blackhawks managed a 3-2 overtime win against the Detroit Red Wings despite not playing very well. After the game, head coach Jeremy Colliton started out his post-game interview with this statement.
Jeremy Colliton on 3-2 overtime win over Red Wings: "Not one we're going to frame, but we did get two points." #Blackhawks— Charlie Roumeliotis (@CRoumeliotis) February 16, 2021
Colliton isn’t exactly known for his personality. As a matter of fact, many criticize him for not having enough passion in his approach. He’s serious, studious, and let’s face it, rather boring. A far cry from former Blackhawks’ head coach Joel Quenneville, who oozed intensity every time he stood in front of the camera, tightly gripping both sides of the podium for good measure.
So to see this kind of dry humor in Colliton is a breath of fresh air. He’s letting his guard down a bit, and perhaps that comes from finally being comfortable in his role. He’s not “the guy who replaced Coach Q”. He’s Coach Colliton, who is currently influencing his team in all the right ways. Perhaps he’s not so boring after all. And maybe he is intense, just in a different way.
Speaking of intensity, Colliton recently spoke about superstar Patrick Kane’s connection with the younger players. “He steals from everybody. He’s gonna take it, make it his own, and probably do it better.”
That’s an interesting assessment. Most people would think of Kane as the one giving out the tips and advice, not taking them. But it just goes to show one can never stop learning, growing and becoming better.
Yeah, Blackhawks’ fans are certainly lucky to have Kane. It’s hard to believe he’s 32 years old because he still acts like a kid, and hangs with them too. This guy simply loves the game of hockey, and will do whatever it takes to prolong his success and his career.
A Dose of Duncan
Let’s move on to another veteran. Duncan Keith has been in the NHL for a long time; 16 years to be exact. Three Stanley Cups, two Norris Trophies, the Conn Smythe in 2015. He’s been there, done that. Now, at 37 years of age, Keith finds himself tasked with mentoring young defensemen just coming into the league. One can tell on the ice he’s embracing this role wholeheartedly. But off the ice, he’s kinda sick of talking about it.
Duncan Keith getting tired of these endless questions about mentoring young defensemen:— Ben Pope (@BenPopeCST) February 16, 2021
"These young guys, they're young, but it’s not like they’re kittens."
Ok, so Keith is basically saying these guys aren’t thriving just because of him. Ian Mitchell, Nicolas Beaudin, Adam Boqvist and even Lucas Carlsson are certainly learning from what Keith has to say, and what he shows them. But they are also very talented young defensemen that would be doing well even without his advice. Keith’s input is just an added bonus.
To the kittens and their success!
We touched on Kane and his intensity earlier. But Kane had a few words to say about his newest partner in crime on the ice, Alex DeBrincat.
You guys see a nice kid who’s smiling all the time, but he’s really competitive. He’s competitive in the gym. Even when we’re playing golf, he’s always checking the scorecard.
It’s true, DeBrincat does appear to be smiling all the time. It’s a good smile, and the organization does their best to showcase it. Good marketing, after all. So to hear this from Kane is certainly a sign that he knows what’s going on. Sell that smile!
But behind the scenes, DeBrincat is a competitor that’s going to be an integral part in the Blackhawks taking things to the next level. Kane knows it, and now we know it too.
Finally, Kevin Lankinen has emerged as the Blackhawks’ No. 1 goaltender. He celebrated his first NHL career shutout this past week against the Red Wings. After the game he discussed his emotions.
Lankinen on his first shutout: "It feels awesome. It's just great. It's one of those nights you always dream about growing up."— Ben Pope (@BenPopeCST) February 18, 2021
Ok, I’m not going to sugarcoat it. That’s not exactly a noteworthy quote. As a matter of fact, it’s something I would expect Barbie Ken to say. Hey, Lankinen kind of looks like Barbie Ken with his blonde hair and Finnish demeanor! Not that’s there’s anything wrong with that. You just keep being you, Lankinen!
And here’s to the Blackhawks continuing their quest for success. And happiness.
Looking for more Blackhawks content? Tune in to The Hockey Writers YouTube Channel for Blackhawks Banter every Monday night at 7:00 p.m. CST (8:00 p.m. EST), or on our Facebook Page. Episode 15 is featured below.