Chicago Blackhawks: Five Things To Watch For When Training Camp Opens Thursday

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Jun 24, 2013; Boston, MA, USA; Chicago Blackhawks players celebrate with goalie Corey Crawford (50) after game six of the 2013 Stanley Cup Final against the Boston Bruins at TD Garden. The Blackhawks won 3-2 to win the series four games to two. Mandatory Credit: Michael Ivins-USA TODAY Sports

The last time the Chicago Blackhawks franchise was all together on the ice was June 24th in Boston when they clinched the teams 5th Stanley Cup and 2nd in 4 seasons.  Now this Thursday training camp kicks off in what seems like one of the shorter summers of all-time with the season starting earlier than normal for the Olympics.

Every training camp and approaching seasons have keys and things to watch for, so here are five things to watch for when the Blackhawks organization heads to South Bend and the campus of Notre Dame for the beginning of the 2013 Training Camp.

#5 How bad is the Hangover?

This offseason has been exciting from the Championship parade, to seeing all the pictures of each players day with the Stanley Cup. There has been contract extensions and parades since the Hawks won the Stanley Cup in June.

The last time the Blackhawks won the Cup there was a serious hangover by players like Duncan Keith who after a Norris Trophy winning season was a ghost of himself for the entire season. It wasn’t just Keith, but he was the poster child of the Hangover effect and it took all the way to the last game of the regular season before the Hawks knew they would make the playoffs to defend their Stanley Cup.

The Olympics make this break shorter than ever so its hard to determine whether the shorter break will be better or worse for the hangover.

One way to know how bad of a hangover the Hawks have will be Joel Quennenville’s first interview after the start of training camp.  If he uses the word Pace a lot as if he liked the pace of practice than the signs could point to  a minor hangover, but if you hear coach Q say things like, it wasn’t exactly what we were looking forward to, or this is just a start of a long process, it could be a rough start to the season.

4. Corey Crawford’s New World

It’s still strange to me that the guy that escorts the Stanley Cup all year round was the person to break the news of the Corey Crawford contract extension.  Crawford is no longer a question mark entering the season like he has ever since getting his big shot in 2010-2011 season when Marty Turco couldn’t hold down the job.  Crawford when training camp kicks off will be in a whole new world after being snubbed for the Conn Smythe in just a few short months.

First, the Hawks signed Nikolai Khabibulin to back up Crawford.  Crawford and former backup Ray Emery seemed like a cohesive unit which was evident all the way to the sharing of the Jennings trophy in 2013. Khabibulin isn’t a youngster looking to become the starter, but he’s a solid veteran that is only in town to get some action and be a security blanket for the Hawks goalie position.

The biggest change to Crawford’s world has to be his position coach. After having Stephen Waite as his goalie coach for his entire NHL career, Crawford now has to get accustomed to new goalie coach Steve Weeks.  Weeks has been a coach for over two decades, but he hasn’t coached anywhere for three season.  Hopefully, getting back on the saddle is like riding a bike, but Crawford has to be on the same page with Weeks like he was with Waite last year to help lead the Blackhawks and continue his solid play from 2013.

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