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Hot Corner: Blackhawks rookie Marcus Kruger ready to earn it

New Blackhawks center Marcus Kruger (16) takes ice 2nd period during NHL game March 23 2011 with Chicago Blackhawks hosting

New Blackhawks center Marcus Kruger (16) takes the ice in the 2nd period during the NHL game March 23, 2011 with the Chicago Blackhawks hosting the Florida Panthers at the United Center. | Tom Cruze~Sun-Times

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Updated: November 4, 2011 5:35PM

Marcus Kruger will get a lot of attention in a few weeks when training camp begins for the Blackhawks. The rookie center — after his touted arrival late last season — will be in the mix for the few remaining forward spots.

The Sun-Times caught up with Kruger, who will arrive in Chicago on Wednesday, as he was photographed by Panini America and Upper Deck for his first rookie card and other memorabilia during the NHLPA Rookie Showcase on Monday in Toronto.

Sun-Times: What’s it like to be on a trading card?

Marcus Kruger: It’s huge. Growing up, I collected those cards. It feels kind of great.

ST: Do you still collect cards?

MK: I don’t think I have them anymore. When I was younger, I had some Peter Forsberg cards. Those were my favorites. He was my favorite player.

ST: Do a lot of kids collect cards in Sweden?

MK: Pretty much all of them I know. When you’re younger, most of the guys do. Pretty much all Swedish kids play hockey at least for a little while.

ST: What did you learn about the NHL last year?

MK: On the ice, it’s smaller than back home. It was faster. I just tried working on the small things and doing everything faster. But still, I feel like my game is going to work [in the NHL]. It was huge for me to play and for my confidence.

ST: Is it your spot to lose on the Hawks?

MK: Not at all do I feel like I have a spot. I have to earn a spot at training camp. That’s what I’m trying to do. You have to earn it.

ST: Have you worked on anything specifically this summer?

MK: I’ve just tried to get stronger overall and work on the first steps. It’s something that I noticed. It’s important to get the puck [first].

ST: Did you put on weight?

MK: I’ve gained some weight for sure. I weigh about 84 kilos (about 185 pounds). You don’t want to put too much weight on, but at the same time, you go slow, so you’re body can take in the weight.

ST: Do you still feel like a rookie?

MK: Yeah. This is going to be my first training camp and my first full year over here.

ST: What if you have to start the year in Rockford?

MK: I came over here to play in the NHL and with the ­Blackhawks. I will work hard to get there. That’s what I’m trying to do. Of course, I would be disappointed. But my focus is playing on the Blackhawks.

Adam L. Jahns

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