Bickell Remains On Top Line With Kane, Toews at Hawks Camp

Brandon Saad gets first crack at centering team's second line

The defending Stanley Cup champion Chicago Blackhawks hit the ice at the University of Notre Dame on Thursday morning to open their 2013 training camp.

The session, which was closed to the public, was the first time that all the players had been together since they celebrated the team's Cup victory with their downtown parade in late June. On the ice though, it was all business as the team ran through their first drills of camp in advance of their first preseason game on Tuesday night against the Detroit Red Wings at the United Center.

For those interested in what lines the Hawks were sporting, here are a couple of combinations that head coach Joel Quenneville was trying out:

Bryan Bickell - Jonathan Toews - Patrick Kane
Patrick Sharp - Brandon Saad - Marian Hossa
Ben Smith - Andrew Shaw - Jeremy Morin
Brandon Bollig - Marcus Kruger - Jimmy Hayes

There's nothing particularly earth-shattering about any of these line combinations. The team has already said that they will give Saad a shot to win the second line center job, and that line (as a caveat, the players were split into two groups, and the Saad line was in the second session) is indicative that the coaches were telling the truth.

Brandon Pirri will get his chance to skate with those guys for sure, likely in practice and then in at least one home preseason game (veterans generally don't travel to road games during NHL preseason), but for now, it appears that Saad is getting the first crack to become re-acquainted with the center position.

Other Notes:

-Teuvo Teravainen skated on a line in practice with two first round draft picks: Kyle Beach (2009) and Ryan Hartman (2013).

- When asked by Sun-Times scribe Mark Lazerus about the Hawks' new back-up goaltender Nikolai Khabibulin, Patrick Kane said that the 40-year old is "in great shape. Best shape I've seen a 40-year old guy in." He also added that he felt that Khabibulin's stats took a hit in recent years because of Edmonton's porous defense (a very plausible theory).

Obviously, the Hawks have made a commitment to Corey Crawford this offseason in inking him to a new six year contract, but the team is going to need Khabibulin to be in tip-top shape too, with a slew of back-to-back games scheduled and a more compressed schedule because of NHL participation in the Olympics.

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