New dynamic this time for Blackhawks
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SOUTH BEND, Ind. — The Blackhawks' dressing room sure has changed since the team won its first Stanley Cup in 2010.
And in more ways than one.
That year only three Hawks were married and had kids: John Madden, Brent Sopel and Cristobal Huet. The rest of the team hung out together off the ice as bachelors.
Now there are marriages and babies everywhere you turn.
Patrick Sharp, Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook have welcomed children in the last year, while Bryan Bickell and Niklas Hjalmarsson recently got married to their fiancees. Corey Crawford is engaged.
"It's been different, but it's been good," Keith said. "It's just everybody getting older, just a natural thing in life, I guess. You're not a kid anymore. You've got to grow up sometime."
Keith and Seabrook are two of the closest friends on the team and find their off-ice talks have taken a new turn.
"It's kind of weird, the conversations go from hockey to changing diapers and things like that," Keith said. "That's what it's like now."
Coach Joel Quenneville is looking forward to a different kind of Christmas party, among other things.
"It's interesting the way things have changed over the years here from when we had a bunch of young guys and they're all buddies and they're young, having a good time, and now they're young dads," Quenneville said. "It's been a fun couple years here, and I can only see it getting more fun with the Blackhawks family getting bigger and bigger and bigger.
"Getting the kids together on the ice before practice is something we haven't seen in the past, but I look forward to seeing."
Even Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews are entering their seventh seasons with the Hawks.
"It's crazy; time flies, I guess," Kane said. "To be going into my seventh season is pretty wild. I remember going into my fourth season I was still the youngest guy on the team and now three years later you feel like a wily veteran."
Kane says it's a different kind of dressing room now.
"Times change," he said. "From 2010 to 2013, three years, makes a big difference from guys getting married to having babies and the single guys having girlfriends. It's pretty amazing."
Meanwhile, Kane has gone from a guy trying to prove he deserved to be the top pick in the draft in his first training camp to a superstar making those amazing stickhandling videos.
"It's different," Kane said. "Coming in at 18 years old, I was just trying to prove myself and prove my worth as a top pick. As time goes on you want to just keep getting better.
"I'm turning 25 this year and they say you're a veteran, but I don't know about that. You feel like you have a lot of experience with what you've accomplished and what you've been a part of throughout your career."
Quenneville sees a new and improved Kane.
"Every year he has grown up in the right fashion," Quenneville said. "He's more mature off the ice. He's taking on more responsibility as far as leadership of the team. His game has gotten quicker, and he's gotten stronger and faster. Every year you see progress.
"I find his preparation and focus at this camp is right where you want it to be. I commend him on wanting to keep getting better and the best player he can be."
•Follow Tim's hockey reports on Twitter @TimSassone and check out his Between the Circles blog at dailyherald.com.
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