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After winning a Stanley Cup at 21, Hawks all-scar center Andrew Shaw knows he can’t let up

2013 NHL Stanley Cup Final - Game Six

2013 NHL Stanley Cup Final - Game Six

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Updated: October 16, 2013 6:55AM

SOUTH BEND, Ind. — The latest permanent adjustment to Andrew Shaw’s face is about an inch long — a thin, horizontal pink line under his right eye.

That’s where a puck — fired by Boston’s Shawn Thornton in Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Final — tore into Shaw’s flesh and left him sprawled on the ice for several minutes. It left a small but nasty wound that even a quick stitching couldn’t hold together

The Blackhawks’ irascible center spent the game wiping the blood off with a towel, then spent the postgame celebration wiping the blood on his teammates’ bright white jerseys, one giddy hug at a time.

But good things tend to come from Shaw’s pain. The stitches that closed the cut sold for $6,500 at auction, a total that was then tripled by the V Foundation, raising $19,500 for cancer research, a cause near to Shaw’s heart; his mom is a cancer survivor.

Shaw said it was a cool idea but hopes that the next piece of memorabilia he auctions off will be something simpler. Maybe an autograph or a stick.

“Hopefully, not something off my face,” Shaw said. “My face had enough.”

Indeed, Shaw’s latest scar has plenty of company. But those facial fixtures are emblematic of the way Shaw plays — always trying to leave an indelible mark, toughness and tenacity trumping raw talent.

So even though Shaw had nine goals in the regular season and five in the playoffs — including his famous “I love shin pads!” moment when he deflected Michal Rozsival’s shot past Boston’s Tuukka Rask in the third overtime of Game 1 of the Final — he knows exactly the style of play that got him to the NHL as a twice-undrafted player and will keep him there for years to come.

“It’s something I’ve done my entire career,” Shaw said of his irritant role. “I’ve got to keep doing it. If I don’t, if I get away from that game, I’m not as effective. The coaches are always making sure that I know that. I’ve got to go out there every shift and play like it’s my last.”

The trick is keeping that desperation after winning the Stanley Cup at 21. The guy’s so young, he spent his time on Thursday night visiting dorms and beating Notre Dame students at video games.

But Shaw insists he knows how fortunate he is and doesn’t take such success for granted. The sight of veterans Jamal Mayers, Michal Handzus and Rozsival hoisting the Stanley Cup for the first time in their 30s — and the joy and relief in their faces — has stuck with Shaw.

“It ain’t easy,” he said. “It’s the hardest trophy to win. You can go your whole career and not win it. . . . It just shows you’ve got to keep competing [because] the chance may never come around again.”

Coach Joel Quenneville raved about Shaw’s intangible qualities but said he still has plenty of offensive upside. Shaw again could be used as a net-front presence on the power play — despite his 5-10, 180-pound frame — and he showed last season that he can be productive, even on the checking line, when skating with talented teammates.

But he lost Bryan Bickell (moved to the top line) and Viktor Stalberg (signed with Nashville) as his linemates and will have to break in two new ones — possibly a couple of the younger guys coming up from Rockford who are trying to crack the roster.

They can surely learn something from Shaw, who always seems to be trying to prove himself — even if that means digging in the corners, goading opponents into penalties, picking fights with guys a foot taller (remember Hal Gill?) and, yes, blocking shots by any means necessary.

“I don’t think any spot’s secure,” Shaw said. “So I’ve still got to work and compete and just do what I do there.”


Twitter: @MarkLazerus

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