HAWKS IN BRIEF: Avs coach Sacco says Hawks still quality team
BY ADAM L. JAHNS firstname.lastname@example.org
DENVER -- For a young team with similar aspirations, the Colorado Avalanche looks at the Hawks -- despite all their salary-cap losses this offseason -- as every bit the team to beat in the NHL.
The words from the Avalanche before their 4-3 overtime win Thursday only emboldened the sentiment that the Hawks are the hunted -- not the hunters, anymore.
''I focus on who is still here,'' Avalanche coach Joe Sacco said. ''They have some dangerous players still. They lost some good players. But I look at their current lineup. They skate well. They push the pace. Their transition game is very strong. If you want to play a good game against the Hawks, you better be good with the puck through the neutral zone. You don't want to be turning the puck over. I see a little change in their roster. But I still see a quality team.''
Young players such as Matt Duchene, Paul Stastny and Chris Stewart have increased expectations for the Avalanche, who made the playoffs last season with 95 points and put a scare into the San Jose Sharks in the first round.
Stastny scored twice Thursday, including the winner in overtime, while Stewart and Duchene also scored. For the Hawks, Bryan Bickell, Marian Hossa and Patrick Sharp were the goal-scorers.
"Anytime a team wins the Cup, they're always going to be measuring
stick," said Duchene, a Calder Trophy finalist last season as one of the
league's top rookies. "No one is going to take them lightly. [Chicago
is] such a great hockey city right now. It's such a great group of guys.
I know a few of them they're awesome. They're such great players."
Down memory lane
The Avalanche's 1996 Stanley Cup-winning team was honored before the game. There also was a reunion dinner Wednesday night. Patrick Roy, Joe Sakic and Peter Forsberg attended.
Hawks coach Joel Quenneville, an assistant coach with the Avalanche that season, and former Hawk and current radio analyst Troy Murray took part.
''[It was a] great night [Wednesday] -- great seeing everyone,'' Quenneville said. ''Some great stories. It's amazing how quickly 15 years goes past.''
The final moves
The Hawks put defenseman Brian Campbell on injured reserve. Campbell sprained his knee Friday in exhibition play against the Pittsburgh Penguins. He's out four to five weeks.
Forward Ryan Potulny, who signed a one-year deal with the Hawks this summer, and veteran defenseman Jassen Cullimore cleared waivers and were assigned to the Rockford IceHogs of the American Hockey League.