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Hayes, Olsen back in familiar haunts

Jimmy Hayes, Dylan Olsen back in familiar haunts

Updated: January 10, 2014 6:31AM

Jimmy Hayes and Dylan Olsen had just checked into their hotel on Nov. 14 and had started a card game after a five-hour bus ride to Grand Rapids for the Rockford IceHogs’ next game when they got a call from Blackhawks minor-league general manager Mark Bernard, summoning them to his room.

“We thought we were getting called up to the Hawks,” Olsen said.

Not quite. The two learned they had been traded to the Florida Panthers for Kris Versteeg.

“It came as a bit of a shock,” Olsen said. “Didn’t see that coming. But we looked at it as an opportunity. Obviously, it’s been going well so far.”

Indeed, the two prospects who couldn’t crack the Hawks roster — Hayes had seen 43 NHL games over three seasons, while Olsen got 28 games two years ago — have found seemingly permanent roster spots with the struggling Panthers, who visited the United Center on Sunday night. Hayes, a 6-6 forward, has three goals and an assist in 10 games with Florida. Olsen, a defenseman, has a goal and three assists in six games, averaging about 17 minutes a night.

“It’s a tough lineup to crack,” Olsen said of the Hawks. “So going to Florida, I thought it was a great opportunity to get my foot in the door and start establishing myself in the NHL.”

Olsen responded by scoring the Panthers’ first goal.

Roster report

The Hawks recalled defenseman Michael Kostka from his conditioning assignment in Rockford and activated him off injured reserve. He was a scratch for Sunday’s game. It was the 24th game in a row he has missed since taking a puck off his foot at the morning skate at Florida on Oct. 22.

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