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'Overshadowed' Madden key addition for Hawks
By Tim Sassone | Daily Herald Staff

John Madden

 

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Published: 9/21/2009 12:29 AM

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The Blackhawks made headlines throughout the hockey world July 1 when they signed Marian Hossa to that whopper 12-year, $62.8 million contract.

Lost in the hoopla was another significant signing of a free agent a few hours later.

While Hossa got bold headlines, John Madden was lucky if there was a paragraph about him coming to the Hawks.

"He's been overshadowed a bit, but I don't think that really bothers him because he's probably been overshadowed a lot in his career," said Hawks general manager Stan Bowman. "He was a very big part of that New Jersey team."

Hockey people know what the Hawks are getting in the 36-year-old Madden, who won Stanley Cups in New Jersey with Martin Brodeur and Scott Stevens by helping provide all the little things winning teams need.

Madden has been one of the game's premier checkers for the better part of a decade and a top penalty-killer. He won the Selke Trophy as the NHL's best defensive forward in 2000-01 and finished second on three other occasions.

"I think if you talk to coaches, those are the types of guys that are kind of the glue, both on the ice and off the ice," Bowman said.

"He's a character guy, he has experience winning, he knows how to handle pressure, he knows how to handle important situations in a game and has been through difficult situations in his career with expectations, so he's going to help our young guys through that."

Madden was brought in to play third-line center as a replacement for Sammy Pahlsson, who never quite lived up to expectations after being acquired by the Hawks at last season's trade deadline.

Most consider Madden an upgrade from Pahlsson, who is now with Columbus.

"Johnny has great experience and is a reliable guy," Hawks coach Joel Quenneville said. "He's going to be useful in a lot of ways for us. He can check in a lot of key situations."

Madden might also get the chance to be a little more offensive in Quenneville's system.

Six times in nine seasons with the Devils, Madden scored 15 or more goals, including a career-high 23 in 2000-01. Madden's 17 short-handed goals are a New Jersey franchise record.

"I'm not Patrick Kane or Jonathan (Toews)," Madden said. "I'm not going to put the puck in the net a lot - it's Steady Eddie, and keep things secure at the other end."

Madden jumped at the opportunity when the Hawks showed interest in July, taking less money for one year ($2.75 million) when he could have earned more elsewhere.

"First and foremost, they're a great hockey team," Madden said. "I know they have their sights on winning the Stanley Cup, and that's what my goals are, too. I believe in the guys in the dressing room from watching them play last year and the year before."

Madden said he won't force trying to be a leader on a team that has a room full of them.

"This team has a lot of leaders, not just the guys that wear the C or A," Madden said. "You watch them play and they're not looking for one guy to do it; it's everybody taking part and doing their job and holding each other accountable.

"It's my job to fit in. It's not for them to make me fit in."

• Martin Havlat appears to be a good fit so far for Minnesota as his first 2 goals in a Wild uniform helped the team blank the Blackhawks 3-0 in Sunday's preseason game.

Havlat came to Minnesota over the summer as a free agent after spending the previous three seasons with the Hawks,