Blackhawks president and CEO John McDonough promised fans Sunday that the organization would do whatever it could to make it up to those still bitter about the lockout — adding there would be some initiatives unveiled later in the week to reward everyone’s patience.
“To our fans we want to thank them for their patience and their loyalty,” McDonough said. “The franchise over the last five years has enjoyed very good momentum.
“We’ve led the National Hockey League in attendance the last four years and have had 190 consecutive sellouts, and we expect that momentum to continue.
“The message to our fans is very simple: We are going to have to earn our way back. We do not take any of this for granted.
“It was difficult period for all of us, but we certainly respect and understand it was particularly difficult for you.”
Part of the plan being worked on could have something to do with the controlled scrimmage the team is planning to have this week.
“It will be like a preseason game; it will be like a real game for us,” said Hawks coach Joel Quenneville. “We’re going to bring up some guys from Rockford so we can have three lines and five defensemen on a team. Both goalies will get the whole game.”
McDonough said the team actually gained 250 customers on its season-ticket waiting list.
Those fans who packed Johnny’s IceHouse on Sunday certainly didn’t seem angry that hockey went away for three months. They cheered loudly when the players hit the ice and stayed around long after practice was over.
“That was great to see,” Jonathan Toews said. “Fans are excited to watch hockey again and we couldn’t more appreciative about something like that.”
Standing pat for now:
Hawks general manager Stan Bowman said he is not likely to make a trade or fiddle with his roster before the season starts Saturday at Los Angeles (2 p.m., NBC).
“It’s possible, but it’s unlikely,” Bowman said. “We feel real strong about the depth that we do have. We have to see how it plays out.”
Andrew Shaw and Brandon Bollig likely will be in the opening-day lineup as well as Sheldon Brookbank, one of two additions last off-season. Michal Rozisval was the other.
“We have quite a few guys ready to play, so I think personnel wise we certainly have a lot of pieces that we like,” Bowman said. “We have to see what happens when the games start being played. We’ve got to see what this group can do first.”
Setback for Montador:
Defenseman Steve Montador was one of two players to fail his training camp physical Saturday. The other was Rostislav Olesz, who is recovering from off-season knee surgery.
Montador, who suffered multiple concussions last season, was cleared to play at one point during the lockout but recently suffered a setback.
“At this point he’s not ready to play,” Stan Bowman said. “Steve did not pass his training camp physical, which is unfortunate.”
Business is business:
Few Hawks were as vocal and outspoken during the lockout than Jonathan Toews, who directed most of his anger toward NHL commissioner Gary Bettman.
The captain was asked Sunday what he would do when he sees Hawks chairman Rocky Wirtz.
“I understand misunderstandings could come from things that I said,” Toews said. “I wouldn’t say I take anything back that I did say.
“I have a lot of respect for Rocky Wirtz and their family and everyone who has been a part of this Blackhawk organization during my time here and before that.
“I think all the frustration I was showing had to do with just things that were happening and the relationship between the league and the players. They’ll say the same thing, that there was frustration with us too, but none of that is ever personal.
“All that is behind us now. I would rather talk about hockey and the great things that are going to happen this season.”
The Hawks recalled three more players from Rockford on Sunday, making it a total of seven brought up from the AHL for training camp. ... Coming up Sunday but not practicing were center Brandon Pirri, defenseman Ryan Stanton and winger Brandon Saad. They joined the foursome of Andrew Shaw, Brandon Bollig, Nick Leddy and Marcus Kruger, who have been in town most of the week.Copyright © 2013 Paddock Publications, Inc. All rights reserved.