Schedule Changes, Richardson Embracing Data, Q Back Behind a Bench? and Other Blackhawks Bullets

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Schedule Changes, Richardson Embracing Data, Q Back Behind a Bench? and Other Blackhawks Bullets

Chicago Blackhawks

The Blackhawks will travel to Boston later today for an evening game against the Bruins. That’s far from an easy task; the Bruins are 10-0-0 on home ice to start this season, and the Blackhawks are struggling right now. We’ll see if they’re able to add any fresher bodies (read: Tyler Johnson and/or Ian Mitchell) to the roster before they board the plane.

UPDATE: we found out this morning that the Blackhawks are, indeed, adding a fresh body for the trip to Boston. Mitchell was recalled before practice on Friday. Maybe he can fix the power play by himself? (Only about 45 percent sarcasm on that one…)

  • First, the NHL announced schedule changes for a couple upcoming Blackhawks games. Their game on Dec. 13 against the Washington Capitals will air on ESPN and will now start at 8 PM CT. Their game on Dec. 23 against the Columbus Blue Jackets will air on NBC Sports Chicago and puck will drop at 7:30 PM CT.
  • As we continue celebrating Marian Hossa this week, I shared the bulk of my conversation with the legend yesterday. We talked about his relationship on and off the ice with Jonathan Toews. He was so impressed with how Toews — whom ehe compared to Sidney Crosby — handled the pressure and responsibility of being a captain at such a young age. They were dominant together, and are still good friends today.
  • When the Blackhawks hired Jeff Greenberg away from the Chicago Cubs to be an assistant GM (after previously interviewing him for the GM job), it raised a lot of eyebrows. What the heck does a baseball guy know about hockey? Well, other than Greenberg being a hockey guy in the first place, he’s an analytics guy who brings an understandings of building systems to collect, analyze and weaponize data in a professional sports organization. Ben Pope wrote this fascinating story about how Greenberg and Luke Richardson are starting to work together now, one month into the regular season, to converse about the data they have/want and how to use it.
  • Richardson wants data on blue line turnovers. Sadly, his team has provided plenty of data to analyze lately. But I was interested in what Richardson — an old school player now coaching in a new school world — had to say about working with the “nerds” (my word, definitely not his).

“I put in a few areas that I wanted [more data on], and I let them see if they could find a couple of areas,” Richardson told Pope. “I asked them to look into . . . turnovers at both blue lines. What does it lead to? Does it lead to prime-‘A’ chances? How many times does that happen? Or does it put us in [the] ‘D’-zone for a long period of time?

“That’s definitely one area we’re looking at. We’ll see what else they come up with. Probably within the next week, I’ll have numbers. [We’re] finally getting there. But we didn’t want to do it just to do it and throw all these numbers [around]. . . . We wanted to find areas that are going to be meaningful. We might have to move around every month on that, depending how we’re growing or faltering as a team.”

  • We hear all the time about the delicate balancing act between front offices and coaches, and more times than not there’s an element in that conversation where the analytics being collected and broken down by the front office are being passed along to varying degrees of success by the coaches. This is true in baseball, football, and now hockey. I love reading that Richardson is not only embracing the ability to use data, but is engaging in the process of determining what they should focus on and why they care about the information. That sets the Blackhawks up incredibly well in the immediate future to have the head coach and front office on the same page.
  • There were a few interesting nuggets in last night’s Insider Trading segment on TSN, featuring Chris Johnston, Pierre LeBrun and Darren Dreger (who has a simply majestic lip sweater working for Movember right now).
  • The league is going to require players to wear helmets for warm-ups moving forward. No more pregame flow. Sorry, kids.
  • Winnipeg wakes up on Friday morning in second place in the Central Division, one point behind the Stars. But they’re dealing with a handful of significant injuries. Dreger said the Jets are ready to look around the trade market for the right fit on the blue line or helping their top nine forwards.
  • They closed the segment talking about former Blackhawks head coach Joel Quenneville wanting to get back into coaching. According to Dreger, Quenneville would need to get clearance from NHL commissioner Gary Bettman to return to a coaching position in the wake of the Kyle Beach investigation’s findings. That hasn’t happened yet.
  • If we lose Twitter for good at some point, it really has been a place full of great community (and a lot of hate and trash, but also there has been a lot of good). I jumped into the #LastTweet frenzy on Thursday night with what I felt was an appropriate way to leave a lasting mark. (Note: Twitter is still functioning as I write this on Friday morning).
  • Finally, today is a deadline for Major League Baseball. As always, we’ve got you covered with the Cubs’ looming decisions and the impact they might have on the roster in 2023.

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Author: Tab Bamford

Tab is the Lead Blackhawks voice for BN. He is the author of two books about the Blackhawks, most recently "Chicago Blackhawks: An Illustrated Timeline" (Reedy Press, 2021). Find him on Twitter at @The1Tab