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updated: 1/21/2011 6:42 AM

Quenneville wishes Bears coach good luck in NFC championship

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Joel Quenneville, as the last coach in Chicago to win a title, said he called Bears coach Lovie Smith recently to wish him well, just as Smith did last spring before the Blackhawks won the Stanley Cup.

Quenneville, Smith and Bears offensive coordinator Mike Martz are friendly from their days coaching in St. Louis at the same time.

"I exchanged messages with Lovie there and we're rooting for each other," Quenneville said Thursday. "He called me last year when we were challenging for the Cup, and before the playoffs started I called him and he called me back.

"I just appreciated the phone call last year and wished him good luck and said we were behind you and rooting for you."

Quenneville avoided making a Bears-Packers prediction.

"What a game. What a game," Quenneville said. "Perfect timing; our game (with Philadelphia) ends and we get to watch it. I think it's going to be very close, whether it comes down the last play or late field goal. I think it's going to be one of those types of games."

The Hawks play the Flyers at 11:30 a.m. Sunday with the game ending right about the time the Bears start at 2 p.m.

Most of the Hawks wore Bears caps during media interviews Thursday to show support for Sunday's NFC championship game. Even Packers fan and Wisconsin native Jack Skille briefly had his Bears hat on.

Big tests:

With the Hawks set to face two high-powered offenses this weekend in Detroit and Philadelphia, much of Thursday's practice was devoted to penalty-killing.

The Hawks still rank a low 27th in the NHL in killing penalties.

"I think the one thing we want to come out of this week that we want to improve upon in our team and individual play is our penalty-killing," Joel Quenneville said. "That's one area we want to shore up and improve and have confidence in ourselves and being out there and getting the job done.

"We want to make sure as we progress here it's an area we know we can get better and want to get better at a faster rate."


Corey Crawford will start in goal Saturday at Detroit. … Joel Quenneville said he would decide on Sunday's starter for the Flyers following Saturday's game. … Rookie defenseman Nick Leddy was recalled from Rockford on Thursday and practiced with the team.