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Hawks goalie Jason LaBarbera glad Chicago was destination

Vancouver Canucks v Chicago Blackhawks

Vancouver Canucks v Chicago Blackhawks

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Updated: January 22, 2014 6:12AM



Jason LaBarbera spent most of November in Oklahoma City with the AHL after giving up 19 goals in five starts with the Oilers and figured yet another move was in his future. There were plenty of possibilities, plenty of teams that could use an experienced goalie.

“I’ve never seen this many goalies get hurt before,” LaBarbera said. “It’s been interesting. Every day, you’re like, ‘Oh, man, maybe I’ll go here. Maybe I’ll go there.’ It can be stressful at times, but it’s all part of the gig.”

One of the possible destinations LaBarbera considered was Chicago, which was down its top two goalies in Corey Crawford and Nikolai Khabibulin. Sure enough, the Hawks acquired LaBarbera last Saturday, taking him from last place to first place, with a brief layover in Rockford before coming to Chicago on Friday morning.

“It’s going from one extreme to the other,” LaBarbera said after his first morning skate with the Hawks.

LaBarbera backed up Antti Raanta against the Canucks and will continue to until Crawford is healthy enough to play again. Crawford skated Thursday and Friday and could come back shortly after Christmas if all goes well.

The uncertainty is nothing new for the 33-year-old netminder, who has played 182 NHL games for five teams and on five minor-league teams.

“I’ve met four sets of guys in the last three weeks, so my introductions have been pretty good,” he joked. “I’ve gotten pretty good at that. It’s been an interesting little while here.”

LaBarbera is 60-73-19 in his career, with a 2.86 goals-against average and .907 save percentage. He knows better than most how quickly things can change for a guy like him, but for now, he’s excited to be in Chicago.

“There could have been a lot worse places to go,” he said. “As a road player, it’s one of the best road cities in the league. You always enjoy coming here, obviously playing here, too. So to now be on this side of it is awesome.”

Email: mlazerus@suntimes.com

Twitter: @marklazerus



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