by Scott King
The Blackhawks’ annual Training Camp Festival was another jam-packed extravaganza Saturday morning at the United Center. The red and white scrimmage has evolved into a mini Blackhawks Lollapalooza with pop-up bars, live music from a concert stage, radio broadcasts, autographs and photos with Hawks alumni, and loads other fun activities for fans.
After fans enjoyed the outdoor festivities, the Blackhawks vets and roster hopefuls didn’t disappoint inside the building.
Forward Nick Schmaltz scored the first goal of the scrimmage for the White Team in the first period assisted by Patrick Kane and Patrick Sharp. Schmaltz, who centered a line in between Kane and Sharp, played in 61 games with the Hawks last season.
Defenseman Brent Seabrook scored the second goal early in the second period assisted by Kane and Sharp to put the White Team up 2-0.
Sharp snagged his third point of the day by scoring with just 11 seconds left in the second period to put the White Team up 3-0.
“I think I always work hard,” said Sharp of his offseason workouts and overcoming a March hip surgery. “Fitness is something I put on as a priority. I know the kind of camps that Joel runs here. Mid-September, you’ve got to be ready to go physically, and mentally, otherwise you get left behind. Getting off to a good start as a player, as a team, is so important these days, so I kind of learned over the years from watching guys.”
New addition Connor Murphy looked strong skating alongside Duncan Keith. The pair could be the Hawks’ first line of defense this season.
Murphy came to Chicago from Arizona in the trade that sent Niklas Hjalmarsson packing.
“He made my life easy the last couple days playing with him,” said Murphy of his defensive partner thus far in camp, Duncan Keith.
“Duncs’ is a guy that has such a brilliant mind on both sides of [the puck]. He thinks so well on the defensive side and it helps him offensively.
“When he’s got those smarts and that talent, he knows how to use it in both ways. There’s definitely not a perfect recipe in how to balance pairs, but I think when you have good leaders like that, they can work with anyone too.”
Keith thinks there’s a lot of upside to Murphy’s game and the look of their unit.
“I like him,” Keith said of Murphy. “He’s a big, strong guy. I’ve always played my best hockey with a bigger, strong guy that’s a right-handed shot.
“He brings an element of physicality to our team that I don’t think we’ve had, especially on the back end in a long time. I know a couple guys are already talking how they’re a little bumped and bruised already from the last couple of days from him being physical.”
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