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Ineligible for playoffs, latest Blackhawks signee Matt Carey here to learn

Updated: March 23, 2014 11:27PM

Matt Carey walked into the Blackhawks’ dressing room the other day and quickly ran into Patrick Kane, Brandon Saad and Bryan Bickell.

“It was a little bit nerve-racking,” Carey said. “But as soon as I got in the dressing room and started skating, I got a little bit less nervous.”

Carey, a center who signed with the Hawks on Thursday after his freshman season at St. Lawrence University, isn’t expecting to become an every-day player right away. Because he was signed after the trade deadline, he’s ineligible to play in the playoffs or in the AHL. Coach Joel Quenneville said he’d like to get the 22-year-old in a game before the regular season ends — much like he did with college signee Drew LeBlanc last spring — but Carey’s here to listen and learn.

“I’m looking to come and learn how the professionals live, the lifestyle,” Carey said. “And I need to improve a little bit on my defensive game. I’m looking forward to shadow a little bit on Jonathan Toews, see how he plays. That’s about it.”

Carey got some on-ice work in with the assistant coaches and Teuvo Teravainen on Saturday and Sunday morning. And Quenneville liked what he saw, calling him “a nice player.”

Carey described himself as a puck-possession player who likes to work the corners. He had 18 goals and 19 assists in 38 games with St. Lawrence, but he knows he made things difficult on himself by signing with the Hawks instead of a less-loaded team. But like LeBlanc before him, he hoped the Hawks’ well-regarded development program could fast-track him to becoming a better player.

“Yeah, in the long term, it’s going to be tough to crack the lineup,” he said. “Obviously, we’ve got great players. We’ve got Kane and Toews. But [it’s] the development process, how even in the minors they do a great job developing players. That was one of the things I wanted to look at. Regardless of if I’m going to be here next year or in Rockford, I’m really looking forward to just becoming and developing into a professional hockey player.”

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