Blackhawks’ Andrew Shaw won’t let himself be pushed around
BY MARK LAZERUS email@example.com April 8, 2013 9:03PM
Hawks winger Andrew Shaw celebrates his first period goal during the NHL game pitting the Chicago Blackhawks against the Nashville Predators Sunday April 7, 2013 at the United Center. | Tom Cruze~Sun-Times
Blackhawks at Wild
The facts: 7 p.m., CSN, 560-AM.
Updated: May 10, 2013 6:26AM
ST. PAUL, Minn. — There was a time when the sight of Andrew Shaw sniffing around for a fight, jawing at an opponent or a referee or throwing all 5-10, 180 pounds of himself around the rink with reckless abandon was a head-scratching sight for the Blackhawks.
‘‘The first bunch of games that he played here in Chicago last year, he had a couple of fights, and he had all of us asking, ‘Who is this guy?’ ’’ captain Jonathan Toews said. ‘‘ ‘What the heck is he doing?’ ’’
But these days, 14 months into his NHL career, the sight of Shaw trying to chop down the 6-7, 244-pound Hal Gill with some gloved punches to the face during a post-whistle scrum, as he did during Hawks’ victory Sunday against the Nashville Predators, invites little more than a shrug.
Just Shawzie being Shawzie.
Big, bad linemate Brandon Bollig quickly came to Shaw’s side — ‘‘He was saying, ‘If you guys are going to go, I’ll get Shaw a stepladder,’’ Shaw said — but he didn’t need or want the help. Shaw acts big, fights big and plays big.
‘‘That’s just the aggression in me,’’ he said. ‘‘Just battling for space in front of the net, and he had to be the guy. I wasn’t going to let a big guy push me around, so I thought I’d push back.’’
Shaw came by that attitude — that obvious chip on his shoulder — honestly. Twice passed over in the NHL draft, Shaw finally was taken by the Hawks in the fifth round in 2011. He was in the NHL within six months, picking a fight and scoring a goal in his first game.
The irascible irritant hasn’t changed his style since. That’s why he picks fights with guys nine inches taller and more than 60 pounds heavier. That’s why he’s in front of the net on power plays, jockeying for position against gargantuan defensemen. That’s why he has established himself as one of the difference-makers on a first-place Hawks team that is loaded with big names and supreme talent.
On Sunday against the Predators, Shaw had a goal, an assist and an unsportsmanlike-conduct penalty — the Claude Lemieux hat trick, if you will. It was the quintessential Shaw effort.
‘‘I kind of got back to my gritty play and stuck to what got me here,’’ said Shaw, who has eight goals and five assists in 38 games.
Shaw has spent most of the
season on the third line, converted back to center for the first time since his junior days, with Bryan Bickell and Viktor Stalberg. In the last two games, he has been on the fourth line, centering Bollig and
Michael Frolik. But no matter where he is in the lineup, he has been a major factor nightly — on the scoresheet, in the corners, along the boards and in his opponents’ heads.
‘‘He likes to stir things up,’’ Toews said. ‘‘He’s a physical player for his size; he’s very fearless. He can
really get on guys’ nerves out there. And he got a big goal [Sunday]. I think he shows that he’s capable of doing a lot of different things well out there.’’
Shaw said he still is motivated by the two years of draft snubs and still sometimes finds it surreal that he not only has made it to the NHL but has entrenched himself here. He said that fact hit him particularly hard before the game Sunday, when several children joined the Hawks on the ice as part of a
Hockey Fights Cancer event.
Shaw feels fortunate to be where he is, but it had little to do with luck.
‘‘I’m just happy I worked as hard as I did to get here,’’ he said. ‘‘And I don’t want anybody to take it from me.’’
Not even 6-7, 244-pound behemoths such as Gill.