Morin, Nordstrom could have short visits with Blackhawks
BY MARK LAZERUS Staff Reporter December 5, 2013 9:55PM
DUCKS AT BLACKHAWKS
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Updated: January 7, 2014 6:48AM
ST. PAUL, Minn. — The bad news for Jeremy Morin is that he’s been sent to Rockford three times. The good news for Morin is that also means he’s been recalled from Rockford three times.
“It’s been like that for the first couple months of the season, up and down,” Morin, who scored the Blackhawks’ first goal Thursday, said after the morning skate. “But I’m never mad making the drive to Chicago.”
Morin and Joakim Nordstrom were recalled Wednesday and played Thursday against the Wild. They were summoned because Michal Handzus (illness) and Andrew Shaw (upper-body injury after taking a big hit along the boards Tuesday against the Stars) didn’t make the trip.
Their stays could be short, again — Hawks coach Joel Quenneville wouldn’t rule either Handzus or Shaw out for the home game Friday against the Ducks — but they were just happy for another opportunity to prove themselves.
“It means a lot,” Nordstrom said. “I’m really happy to be here. It’s going to be fun.”
Nordstrom surprisingly made the roster out of training camp as a potential replacement for Michael Frolik on the fourth line and the penalty kill. He was sent back to Rockford on Oct. 20, less than three weeks into the season, after posting one goal and no assists in eight games. Quenneville still thinks the 21-year-old Swede can be the long-term answer on the PK.
“That was one of the ideas [behind sending him down], we could give him more penalty-killing time, he could learn that art, knowing that he can really add something to our team this year,” Quenneville said. “We anticipated at the start of the year he could be that guy, and hopefully at some point he can grab that.”
The Hawks actually were missing three of their four regular centers — Handzus, Shaw and Brandon Pirri, who was sent to Rockford on Wednesday. Quenneville said Pirri — who had six goals and five assists but was pointless in his last eight games, most of which came after he was dropped to the third line upon Handzus’ return from injury — had to work on his “consistency and defensive play.”
“I thought his play leveled out here over the last stretch of games,” Quenneville said. “We all felt [by sending him down, we could] give him some confidence, get his game going again, where it seems like he has the puck more and is contributing more.”
Even with three centers missing, Quenneville elected to keep together his fourth line of Brandon Bollig, Marcus Kruger and Ben Smith, which has been so strong of late. The third line had Morin, Nordstrom and defenseman Sheldon Brookbank, while Kris Versteeg and Brandon Saad each got a crack at playing center on the second line with Patrick Kane.
“It’s something you’re going to deal with, whether it’s injuries or sickness or different lineups,” Kane said. “You’re always going to have to adjust. I think that’s been one of the positives for our team for a long time. I don’t think it’s something we’re really worried about. We’re just excited for the next couple of games because you want to prove yourself against good teams, even when you are short-handed.”
Blackhawks vice president of hockey operations Al MacIsaac was announced as a member of the ECHL’s Hall of Fame Class of 2014. MacIsaac played for and was an assistant general manager and coach of the Hampton Roads Admirals.