Chicago Blackhawks players, coaches amazed by new practice facility
One week after community leaders and the media took a tour of the Chicago Blackhawks' new practice facility, the team's players and coaches got their first look at the just-completed 125,000-square-foot MB Ice Arena.
Wow. Just wow.
"The building is spectacular," coach Joel Quenneville said. "I've seen a lot of different rinks and practice facilities. This is second to none. Rocky (Wirtz) and the organization did an outstanding job. … It'll wow you. Very impressive."
The Hawks will use one of the arena's two rinks for the first time today at 10 a.m. and will be joined by representatives from nine community partners. The skate, like all practices, will be open to the public and free to attend.
"It was amazing," Patrick Kane said. "It's pretty special that they can invest in something like that. It's just going to make a world of difference in being at the rink and wanting to improve on your game. …
"It almost reminds me of a country club meets a college football facility."
Kane said he loved how the Hawks' locker room is similar to the one at the United Center, and he also was wowed by the size of the weight room.
But players might have the most fun using the Rapid Shot Hockey Training System that is set up on the facility's second level. The system delivers pucks to the participant and then the net lights up in different quadrants for you to aim at. It also tracks a player's results and allows them to see the weak spots in their game.
"Those will be almost like toys for us," Kane said. "You'll go in there and be like you're a young kid competing with your buddies again at the arcade. But you're actually improving your game and working on your game at the same time."
Nick Schmaltz and Richard Panik each had 3 assists in the Blackhawks' 6-3 victory over the Rangers on Wednesday, while Cody Franson and Duncan Keith each had 2. … After scoring five times in the first four games, Brandon Saad has scored just twice. Both goals came in overtime. … Tanner Kero, Jordan Oesterle and Michal Kempny were the healthy scratches Wednesday. Kero had a goal and an assist in the Hawks' last two games. Kempny has been scratched in three of the last four games.