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Viktor Stalberg benching caused by rift with coaches — source

Updated: May 15, 2013 2:59PM

Blackhawks winger Viktor Stalberg is not hurt. Nor is he being punished for violating any team rules.

He’s also not in the lineup tonight for Game 1 against the Red Wings.

Hawks coach Joel Quenneville declined to go into specifics about why he has benched the speedy third-line right winger. But a source said that Stalberg was at odds with the coaching staff over his role in the first-round series against the Wild. Stalberg had three seconds of power play time in Game 1, 55 seconds in Game 2, and none in the next three games. He averaged 2 minutes, 11 seconds of power play time per game during the season, but had no goals and two assists with the man-advantage in 47 games.

“I had a conversation with him,” Quenneville said. “He knows how it stands, what the situation is. We’ll leave it at that.”

At Wednesday’s morning skate, Stalberg was again on the outside of the top four lines. With Dave Bolland back in the lineup at third-line center, Andrew Shaw moved over to Stalberg’s spot on the right wing. Daniel Carcillo was skating on the fourth line with Marcus Kruger and Michael Frolik.

After Tuesday’s practice — the third straight in which Stalberg was in the dreaded white jersey, signifying his spot outside the top four lines — Stalberg had little to say about his demotion. As for his own play in a five-game series win over the Minnesota Wild, in which Stalberg had one assist and a plus-2 rating, Stalberg simply said, “We won 4-1, right? So that’s good.”

Hawks captain Jonathan Toews said that the team’s depth up front makes it a tough lineup to crack, and that someone’s always on the outside looking in.

“It doesn’t mean we’re not conscious of what those guys are doing for this team,” Toews said. “It’s never an easy thing, but that’s what makes us a good team, is we’ve got some good players that may not be able to play every night.”

Quenneville said that Stalberg could still work his way back into the lineup, one way or another, later in the series.

“Absolutely,” he said. “Things change in our business quickly, whether it’s health or decisions based on play. We’ll visit as things go along.”

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