Now that Marcus Kruger is signed, Blackhawks general manager Stan Bowman can focus on getting coach Joel Quenneville's signature on a contract extension.
Quenneville's deal runs out after next season and both side want to get it done as quickly as possible.
“We're going to work on that as well,” Bowman said. “We've got some things we're going to get to. We've got the goaltending coach to replace Steph Waite. And we've got to finish off some of these (minor-league) contracts.”
Quenneville has won two Stanley Cups behind the Hawks' bench.
“We certainly like being here in Chicago, a lot of thrills and a lot of excitement,” Quenneville said. “We like the quality of life and being part of the sporting situation in town. We love the organization. There are a lot of positives in being here so hopefully we can work something out. We'll see what happens.”
Quenneville is already looking forward to defending the title despite losing Dave Bolland, Michael Frolik, Viktor Stalberg and Ray Emery off the 2013 Cup champs.
Quenneville is also excited to have Nikolai Khabibulin as Corey Crawford's backup.
“This was nothing like 2010 as far as keeping the core and the group intact,” Quenneville said. “We knew some guys would be moving. You win a couple of championships and everyone gets rewarded in a lot of ways going forward.
“In Bolland and Frolik's situation, we wish them well. Toronto got a very competitive guy (in Bolland). Ray in net did a heck of a job for us, but I like the fact Khabby's coming into town. The familiarity and excitement coming back to Chicago will be good for us.”
The inescapable question:
The season basically just ended and already Joel Quenneville is getting asked about the second-line center job and whether Michal Handzus is the answer.
“The way we envisioned him coming into the season is where he'll probably begin the next,” Quenneville said. “Work his way up and maybe give someone else that opportunity. He just finds a way to absorb more opportunities and ice time based on how he plays. He gives you that comfort.
“We're certainly happy to retain him and have that ingredient. No matter where you play 'Zus, it'll be an effective line.”
Quenneville doesn't expect Handzus or defenseman Michal Rozsival to play every game.
“You budget them for a number of games; they don't have to play all the time,” Quenneville said. “You want to keep guys fresh.”
Bryan Bickell had thumb surgery and Michal Handzus had wrist surgery since the season ended, Stan Bowman said.
“It's nothing that's going to stretch into training camp,” Bowman said. “There are a lot of guys who play through some tough injuries in long playoff battles. They play through things that most people wouldn't be able to play with.
“I never realized how much of a warrior Handzus was.”
Bowman also said that Marian Hossa did not need back surgery.
“He's doing much better than he was,” Bowman said. “He was another player who played through an awful lot of pain. At this point, it's nothing we're alarmed about. Some rest is going to do him well.”
Once the NHL makes a formal announcement that it will participate in the 2014 Olympics in Sochi, Russia, the 2013-14 schedule can be released.
“I think it's getting close to the announcement,” Stan Bowman said. “There are some little things not quite worked out. I expect over the next couple of weeks to have that worked out if the NHL is participating.”
The Hawks could have as many as 11 players participating in Sochi.
“It's an honor if you have a lot of players chosen,” Bowman said. “It shows you have high-performing players. It can go both ways; some think it's best if they rest during that period. The other side is they're playing at a very high level and against the best in the world. So when the NHL comes back, they're in top shape and form. The benefits outweight the negatives.”
“I am 11 behind,” Stan said. “Every time I get one he does too, so it's hard to catch up.”
— Stan Bowman on trying to catch his father, Scotty, in the race for Stanley Cup rings.Copyright © 2014 Paddock Publications, Inc. All rights reserved.