Chicago Blackhawks v Columbus Blue Jackets
Updated: December 18, 2011 5:26PM
VANCOUVER, British Columbia — Rostislav Olesz still feels confident. At least, that’s what he said before the Blackhawks left to start their six-game road trip.
“It’s the same,” Olesz told the Sun-Times. “But the game during the season is totally different than it is during the preseason. It’s a totally different game and situation on the ice.”
Since acquiring Olesz from the Florida Panthers in a salary-swap for defenseman Brian Campbell this summer, general manager Stan Bowman always insisted that it was a matter of finding where Olesz fits in on the Hawks. Right now, it appears nowhere.
Olesz was put on waivers Wednesday before the Hawks played the Vancouver Canucks. If he clears, the Hawks have the option of sending him to the Rockford IceHogs. Another team can also claim him. Both situations would help the Hawks’ salary cap since Olesz carries a hefty hit of $3.125 million. The Hawks also could recall a player with Olesz gone. Ben Smith is an option. Smith, a playoff hero last year with the Hawks, has produced in Rockford and was scratched for the IceHogs’ game Wednesday.
With Dave Bolland hurt, Olesz played the last four games mostly on the fourth line. But with Bolland returning from his foot injury against the Canucks, Olesz would have likely been a healthy scratch for the 13th time this season. He practiced with the team Tuesday at Rogers Arena, but didn’t take the ice for their morning skate Wednesday.
Olesz said he liked playing in the Hawks system compared to his time in Florida. But since playing 11:22 against the St. Louis Blues last week, his ice time decreased every game. He played only 7:15 against the Edmonton Oilers on Sunday.
There’s been little productivity from Olesz, the seventh overall pick in 2004. The 26-year-old is a minus-1 in six games with six penalty minutes.
“He didn’t get a ton of opportunities,” coach Joel Quenne-ville said. “His opportunity was limited, but I guess sometimes you earn your opportunity as you go a long here. His production, you could say he hasn’t produced probably at the rate — and I’m not necessarily just talking production — but his overall game, maybe we were looking for more.”
Olesz said before playing the Oilers that felt that he was “getting better every game.”
“It’s about the team effort when playing the game,” he said. “Individually, we have to help the team. It doesn’t matter how you have to. You have to be part of the game.”
In and out
Bolland returned to the lineup after missing three games after getting hurt when he blocked a shot against the Blues. He said after Wednesday’s morning skate that he felt much better and that the prospect of facing the Canucks’ Henrik and Daniel Sedin seemed to help too.
“It’s always great playing these guys with the rivalry we have with them and the hype and everything,” Bolland said. “They are always big games.”
Defenseman Brent Seabrook sat out against the Canucks after injuring his leg when he fell awkwardly into the boards against the Oilers on Sunday.
“He’s progressing really well,” Quenneville said. “We’ll know more each day.”