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updated: 4/28/2011 11:36 PM

Hawks say rest will do them good

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While the Blackhawks certainly would rather still to be playing, many of them welcome the opportunity for some significant rest after the grind of the last two seasons.

"I think we'll be able to say next year that the rest is definitely going to help us," Jonathan Toews said Thursday. "It does so much for you physically, but most of all just being away from the game a little bit really helps you get hungry to play well and win again.

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"Obviously we'd rather be playing, but the rest we're going to get this summer, we'll take advantage of it and come in flying next year."

It's Hawks such as Toews, Duncan Keith, Brent Seabrook and Marian Hossa who have played a lot of hockey the last two seasons, especially considering the 2010 Olympics and the two-month Stanley Cup run.

"I know this is a difficult time to be not playing hockey, but I know they're going to come back stronger than ever and really motivated to have a better start," general manager Stan Bowman said.

In the end it was the Hawks' poor start, particularly their play at the United Center, that cost them key points in the standings and better playoff positioning.

"What we can take out of this season is knowing the first half of the season is just as important as the last part," Seabrook said.

"The start to the year is critical to the outcome of your whole season," coach Joel Quenneville said. "Knowing how we exited the season there's got to be an appetite when we begin the season in place knowing it's a very important part of your year because it sets you up for the playoffs."

Middle man:

Don't be surprised if the Hawks search the trade and free-agent markets for help at center to complement Jonathan Toews and Dave Bolland.

That way Patrick Sharp and Michael Frolik could start next season as wingers.

"Our middle is an area we thought we were depleted this year when Bolland goes down and sometimes Sharp wasn't playing there," Joel Quenneville said. "At one time with the inexperience there we got exposed at times.

"That's always a very important position to fill. The young (Marcus) Kruger kid gives us something to look forward to in the future. I think Johnny had a pretty remarkable year, but a lot of times there was a lot of responsibility on his shoulders."

The Hawks also must decide whether to bring back center Ryan Johnson as an unrestricted free agent.

Next big thing:

The Hawks can't start talking to Patrick Sharp about a contract extension until July 1. Sharp would be an unrestricted free agent following the 2011-12 season.

"It's no secret Patrick has been a huge part of our success," Stan Bowman said. "He's a huge part of our leadership group; he's a great person off the ice and a well-liked teammate. He's got the whole package and is someone we certainly want keep around.

"We've had a pretty good track record getting our core guys to want to stay here, and I'm sure Sharpie is in that group as well."

Not invited:

The three finalists for the Hart Trophy were announced Thursday, and Jonathan Toews didn't make the cut. Members of the Professional Hockey Writers Association voted Anaheim's Corey Perry, Vancouver's Daniel Sedin and Tampa Bay's Martin St. Louis finalists.

Tip-ins:

Jonathan Toews, Duncan Keith, Brent Seabrook and Patrick Sharp will not be going to play for Canada in the World Championships in Slovakia. Marian Hossa has agreed to play for Slovakia with the tourney in his home country. Assistant coach Mike Haviland has been rumored to be a candidate for the head-coaching vacancy in Florida, and it didn't sound as if Stan Bowman would stand in the way if Panthers GM Dale Tallon sought permission to talk to Haviland.

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