10/07/2008 4:37 PM
From chicagoblackhawks.com: (link)
With the Blackhawks’ 23-man roster set – at least for now – Blackhawks GM Dale Tallon met the media to explain some of the tough decisions he and the coaching staff made in constructing the roster.
Although he did try to move goaltender Nikolai Khabibulin recently, Tallon is happy with the goaltending tandem of Khabibulin and Cristobal Huet, who signed a four-year deal in the off-season.
“We want the two best goalies we can possibly have to win every night. That’s it,” he said. “Nik and Huet are our goalies. Everyone is ready to… compete for a job and stop pucks. That’s the bottom line: win games. You win games with a great goaltender.”
But of course, if another team presented an offer, Tallon said he’d have to listen to it.
“You never close any chapters. You always give yourself a chance to get better. We’ll listen and look at everything possible to make us better,” Tallon said. “As we move on, we have a lot of assets and we’ll do whatever is best for the Chicago Blackhawks.”
Tallon added that there are no hard feelings between the team and Khabibulin because of the recently activity.
“He’s a professional,” he said. “We were exploring all options to make the Chicago Blackhawks better. This is the best option for us right now and Nik knows that.”
The other surprise on the Blackhawks’ roster is the absence of defenseman Cam Barker, who was sent down to Rockford on Tuesday. Instead, defenseman Niklas Hjalmarsson will begin the season with the big club.
“We thought that we had to improve our defense,” explained Tallon. “Cam’s an offensive player, Hjalmarsson’s more of a defensive player. With Campbell in the lineup, and Duncan [Keith] and [Brent] Seabrook, we have enough offense in the back end. We needed to be well-rounded defensively.”
Overall, Tallon is pleased with his team’s young nucleus, which had already gotten lots of professional experience and figures to get a lot more this season.
“Our younger guys have another year of experience. It’s a young core, but a young, experienced group,” Tallon said. “We’ve got a lot of energy and a lot of passion. It’s great chemistry in this locker room, and we’re good to go.”
Kane’s New Linemates
Forward Patrick Kane is slated to begin the season on the second offensive line, teamed with Patrick Sharp and Dustin Byfuglien. Kane’s looking forward to working with Sharp again and playing with Byfuglien, who can be a physical presence for the line.
“We’ve got some good chemistry,” said Kane. “I’ve always had pretty good chemistry with Sharpie, but 'Big Buff' on the line adds a big presence. He likes to work the corners, and that helps us get pucks back.”
Kane is excited for the regular season, and said that the team’s chemistry is already very good.
“Everyone’s gotten to know each other. I don’t think we’re really worried about the expectations,” he said. “It should be fun to get the season underway."
Wisniewski’s Rehab Progressing
Before the team’s practice in Bensenville this morning, defenseman James Wisniewski took the ice as part of his rehabilitation following his ACL surgery. Although the results so far are promising, Wisniewski and the team’s conditioning staff are taking things slowly.
Wisniewski said that he’s getting close to beginning his conditioning for the regular season, which includes more rigorous skating for longer periods. He thinks that he’ll be back in early to mid-December, well ahead of the Winter Classic at Wrigley Field January 1.
“I think I’m a little ahead of schedule, but after three knee surgeries I think we’re going to take it slow and wait until I’m absolutely 100 percent,” he said. “I think in another 10 weeks, I’ll be back playing in games.”