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Team USA puts 4 Blackhawks on list
By Chris Kuc | Tribune staff reporter
11:31 PM CDT, April 5, 2008
It won't be all rest and relaxation this off-season for some Blackhawks.
Four Hawks — Patrick Kane, James Wisniewski, Dustin Byfuglien and Adam Burish — have been contacted about possibly playing for the U.S. team in the world championships May 2-18 in Quebec City and Halifax, Nova Scotia.
Kane, of Buffalo, and Wisniewski, of Canton, Mich., have been involved in international competition for the United States at different levels.
Byfuglien, of Minneapolis, and Burish, of Madison, Wis., have yet to represent their country.
"Anytime you can play for your country with your nation's flag on your jersey, it's always an honor," Wisniewski said. "Hopefully I can keep it going and maybe make the Olympics."
Team USA, coached by John Tortorella, will have a training camp April 24-30 in Portland, Maine, including a pre-tournament game against Sweden on April 27.
The roster is not set, but Kane and Wisniewski have good chances at making the team, while Byfuglien and Burish will get a look.
"It was just more of, 'Your name is in the hat, just to let you know that,' " Burish said of his meeting with a Team USA representative. "That in itself is pretty neat. That's something I would never have expected.
" 'We know who you are and your name is in our system' is pretty neat for me. I've never had any experience playing with the USA team. I would love to do that. It would be pretty special."
Team Canada, coached by Ken Hitchcock, hasn't contacted players yet, but Hawks potentially in the mix could be Duncan Keith and Jonathan Toews of Winnipeg, Manitoba, Patrick Sharp of Thunder Bay, Ontario, and Brent Seabrook of Richmond, British Columbia.
Kane has won the NHL's rookie scoring race over Washington's Nicklas Backstrom.
Kane took a three-point lead Friday night with a goal and two assists in the Hawks' 3-1 victory over the Nashville Predators. Backstrom, who has 14 goals and 55 assists, had just one assist in his season finale Saturday night against Florida.
"Now that the playoffs are out of the way, you think about it a little bit," Kane said before Backstrom took the ice. "It would be a nice statement to make coming in as a first-year player, not even knowing if you're going to make the team, and to be a top offensive guy on a team."
Kane has 20 goals and 51 assists going into Sunday's finale in Detroit..
Veteran goaltender Patrick Lalime, who is an unrestricted free agent, isn't sure what his future with the team is with Nikolai Khabibulin under contract for next season and rookie Corey Crawford ready to make the step to the NHL.
"It's out of my hands," Lalime said of his status. "I've had a lot of fun here. It's a great place to play. We'll see."
Hawks coach Denis Savard has praised Lalime for helping turn the Hawks' season around while Khabibulin was sidelined with a back injury. Lalime has a 15-12-2 record, including Friday night's victory over the Predators, and 2.88 goals-against average.