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Hawks’ Bolland known for throwing off foes, but he has skills, too

Injuries have limited Dave Boll100 games last two seasons. He returned Saturday scored two goals. | Scott Stewart~Sun-Times

Injuries have limited Dave Bolland to 100 games the last two seasons. He returned on Saturday and scored two goals. | Scott Stewart~Sun-Times

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Updated: November 16, 2011 11:07AM



Blackhawks center Dave Bolland was more than a professional hockey player. At least, that’s what his Wikipedia page said one night in April.

He was now ‘‘a bad-ass [expletive].’’

‘‘When he scores a goal, he never smiles,’’ the Wikipedia page said. ‘‘However, if he gets an unsportsmanlike-conduct penalty, he grins maliciously to the sin bin. .  .  . His sworn enemies include Henrik Sedin and his brother, Daniel.’’

It was a joke, of course, and Wikipedia changed it once it garnered attention. Asked if he knew about it a day later, Bolland said he didn’t even know what ‘‘Wiki’’ was.

Why would he? At the time, he was too busy freaking out the Vancouver Canucks with his almost-theatrical return from a concussion. He finished with two goals and six points in four games in the Hawks’ first-round playoff loss.

Bolland is beloved for what he does, whether it’s saddling a Sedin with his stick, enticing a slash from Joe Thornton or just plain chirping. He might be the best pest in the NHL, though it’s unfair to label him as just that. He completes the Hawks.

Health concerns

For all the talk about Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews taking the next step in their careers, Bolland can be better, too.

In 2008-09 — his first full NHL season — Bolland had 19 goals, 47 points and a plus-19 rating in 81 games. He was billed as the Hawks’ second-line center of the future.

Since then, he has played in only 100 regular-season games because of injuries, including back surgery and a concussion. After missing Friday’s loss in Dallas with an upper-body injury, Bolland returned Saturday and scored twice, including an empty-netter, in the Hawks’ 5-2 victory against the Stars.

‘‘I don’t think I’m injury-prone,’’ Bolland told the Sun-Times. ‘‘The only main injury that I’ve had is my back surgery. Concussions are pretty fluky.’’

Bolland, who was an elite scorer in juniors, knows injuries have held him up, much like he holds certain players off scoresheets.

‘‘You don’t get your production up there because you’re off the ice, not with the guys and not keeping up to speed,’’ Bolland said.

What he did against the Canucks in the playoffs last season was the most obvious example of his capabilities. So when people rattle off the names of players who make the Hawks great, his never should be excluded.

‘‘Every time he’s out of the lineup, we miss him,’’ Toews said. ‘‘Centerman is a very important position. When we have depth there, we’re a solid team.’’

Bolland has seen some of the digitally altered images made in his honor, like the one of the Vancouver airport on fire and him casually walking from it in a suit. And he does know about the Wikipedia page.

‘‘Whoever does them is pretty good,’’ Bolland said. ‘‘It’s funny. It’s awesome seeing that stuff.’’

Fans do it out of love.

Be like Dave

‘‘He does his job, and he does it well,’’ said Melissa Clark, 19, a San Diego resident whose family is from the Chicago area and is the genius behind the Wikipedia page edits. ‘‘If I were to play hockey, I’d want to play like Bolland plays: smart, tricky, getting under the opposition’s skin. He makes Blackhawks games so much more fun to watch.’’

Bolland gets the ‘‘pest’’ references. He smiles when he is asked about them. But he thinks he’s more than that, and he is. He’s not like Sean Avery, Maxim Lapierre, Matt Cooke, Daniel Carcillo or even Alex Burrows.

‘‘I don’t want to be known like some of the other pests,’’ said Bolland, who has only 142 career penalty minutes. ‘‘For me as a pest, I’m not trying to go out there and pick fights or to do anything like that. I’m out there to try to get guys off their games, guys like a Sedin twin .  .  . or any top players. I want to play hard on them.’’

What Bolland has become is the model pest of the new NHL, where fighting and over-the-top scrappiness are under a microscope. Players are expected to do more now, not just fight, hit or stir things up.

Bolland does a lot well. He’ll drive you to the brink of madness before scoring a big goal. That’s frustrating. Bolland grappled with defenseman Stephane Robidas immediately after scoring Saturday.

‘‘He takes pride in annoying the other player, and he’s good enough offensively to where he can score on those guys,’’ Kane said. ‘‘He just completes our lineup.’’



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