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

By Keith Schultz
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Mar 16, 2013; Dallas, TX, USA; Chicago Blackhawks left wing Brandon Saad (20) skates in the Dallas Stars zone during the game at the American Airlines Center. The Blackhawks defeated the Stars 8-1. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

1. Who Becomes the #2 Center

The only time there seems to have been any kind of discord between Stan Bowman and Joel Quenneville for over a year now has been during this offseason and the topic of #2 center.  Let’s start with the coach who says Brandon Saad will get first crack at the #2 center position. This to most of the fans that follow the Blackhawks is the most puzzling choice of all. Saad is coming off a Calder Trophy campaign in which he played wing. This experiment didn’t go so great with Patrick Kane so most don’t understand why we go back down that road again.

The #2 center position is a spot the Hawks seemingly been trying to fill since 2010.  Now the real question is will Stan Bowman’s nomination take over that spot when training camp begins.  Bowman said that Brandon Pirri should be ready to take the spot in between Patrick Sharp and Marian Hossa. Pirri led the AHL in points and has been primed to take over the spot, so a huge thing to watch for come Thursday is will Pirri take full advantage of this great career opportunity.

The other thing to watch for in the #2 center spot is will Quenneville go back to the well and stick with Michal Handzus. Handzus one would hope is the last option available instead of who Quenneville goes to right from the start.  How the Hawks manage Handzus will be one of Quenneville’s biggest projects so there should be a very small chance he has to get the #2 center spot right out of the box.

The last option is Marcus Kruger who found his niche last season as the #4 center and special teams ace. Kruger played #2 center two seasons ago with some limited success. The Hawks success last season was rolling all four lines, and Kruger had the 4th line playing effectively which could be a huge factor to the fact that Kruger name always seems to be a last option for this position.

What things are you watching for when training camp kicks off Thursday?

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