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Blackhawks have high hopes for Steve Montador

The Hawks’ Steve Montador takes tumble leading Capitals’ tying goal third period. | Scott Stewart~Sun-Times

The Hawks’ Steve Montador takes a tumble, leading to the Capitals’ tying goal in the third period. | Scott Stewart~Sun-Times

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Updated: November 25, 2011 12:20AM

Blackhawks defenseman Steve Montador was in a bind. He was in a new city, and his wallet was missing after eating at Hugo’s Frog Bar.

So he tweeted.

‘‘I tweeted about giving two Hawks tickets away,’’ Montador said.

It didn’t take long for his wallet to turn up. A linen company had found it.

‘‘I think it was the general manager who contacted the Hawks and said they have my wallet,’’ Montador said. ‘‘So I got it back. It wasn’t in time to save all the credit cards. The cards, I had to change. But my Nexus [travel card] was saved, so that was huge.’’

That was one of Montador’s first experiences in Chicago.

‘‘I didn’t expect to get some of the attention I have gotten, and that’s welcoming,’’ he said. ‘‘It’s certainly encouraging for the next four years.’’

There’s a lot of attention on Montador because, like he said, he’s here for the next four years. A lot is
expected from him because he signed an $11 million contract.

General manager Stan Bowman said he tried to acquire Montador, 31, from the Buffalo Sabres at the trade deadline last season, but the deal fell through. Chris Campoli was brought in instead.

The Hawks clearly have high hopes for Montador, who set career highs with 21 assists, 26 points and a plus-16 rating in his second season with the Sabres.

He’ll also get attention if he continues to play with Duncan Keith. The two have played together throughout training camp and were together in the Hawks’ 3-2 exhibition victory Friday against the Washington Capitals at the United Center.

Montador played 19 minutes against the Capitals, notching an assist on Viktor Stalberg’s second goal, two penalty minutes and a
minus-2 rating. Montador lost an edge in the third period, leading to Matt Hendricks’ tying goal.

‘‘Any time you get a new partner, there is always a period where you adjust and learn each other’s tendencies,’’ Keith said. ‘‘I think we’re learning, and we’re getting better as we go along. He’s a right-handed shot and has a real hard shot. He moves the puck good. The more and more we play together, the more we’ll get used to each other’s tendencies.’’

Other than the right-handed shot, Keith said Montador is similar to Brent Seabrook in some respects.

‘‘He’s smart, and he’s got some
offensive ability,’’ Keith said.

But don’t expect Montador to take the place of Brian Campbell, whose trade to the Florida Panthers made room for him and others. They are completely different players.
Instead of looking for one-man breakouts, expect stay-at-home play and some extra grit.

‘‘I don’t think you can compare Brian Campbell and I,’’ Montador said. ‘‘I think we might have a few similarities, but we’re different players overall. I’m just going to be me. I’m happy to be here. I’m glad I signed a long-term deal. I want to come and be the best Steve Montador. I don’t worry about filling anybody else’s role.’’

But as far as replacing Campbell’s strong presence in the locker room, Montador might adjust to that role — in time.

‘‘The guys have been easy to talk to,’’ Montador said. ‘‘It’s fun. There are no saggy guys, just good dudes. I’d say the transition has been smooth. Everyone seems personable.’’

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