Shortly after the Blackhawks beat the Blues 1-0 on Wednesday night at the United Center, captain Jonathan Toews drew the attention of the entire dressing room.
Holding a game puck, Toews said, “It took us a couple, but it’s the first of many.”
He then happily handed the puck to Jeremy Colliton.
Although Colliton admitted it was relieving to notch his first NHL win as a coach, he doesn’t plan to dwell on the victory.
“Just [have to] carry on,” Colliton said Thursday.
Colliton gathered the team for a brief film session Thursday before an optional practice at MB Ice Arena, which only nine players participated in, including struggling veteran Brandon Saad. Colliton felt he needed to give some of the veterans a day off to recuperate before the Hawks host the Kings on Friday.
“Guys have been going pretty hard here for a stretch, and by no means are we taking our foot off the gas, but we want to be full energy tomorrow,” Colliton said.
Star winger Patrick Kane has seen the biggest jump in his average on-ice time to nearly 24 minutes per game under the new coaching staff, nearly four minutes more on average than in the first 14 games. Duncan Keith and Toews are also averaging around one minute more of ice time.
Despite the fatigue, Colliton believes players are adjusting well to his new system.
“We have to be realistic about how quickly they’re going to pick it up,” Colliton said. “Overall, we got to be pretty pleased with the transition . . . We got three out of four points [in the last two games], so we’re on the right path. Now the message — today we had a short meeting — to the team was we need to continue to put together solid performances, good performances, and we’ll get our points.”
Olczyk to be honored
Hawks TV analyst and former player Eddie Olczyk will take the ice for “One More Shift” before the game Sunday against the Wild. The honor for Olczyk, who beat Stage 3 colon cancer last season, accompanies the NHL’s “Hockey Fights Cancer” night.