Adam Clendening is seeing time on the power play. Joakim Nordstrom is playing regularly and Phillip Danault appeared in two NHL games before getting reassigned Monday.
Seeing that, it would figure that the recent opportunities for Blackhawks prospects would be a boon to the Rockford IceHogs’ morale.
Well, not entirely.
“It can work both ways,” IceHogs coach Ted Dent said. “There’s guys that want to get called up that didn’t get called up that were dragging their lips a little this week as well. Sometimes it stings and it takes them a week to get over it mentally. It can go both ways.”
Even with the recent chances, there’s the knowledge that the opportunities won’t come regularly this season. The Blackhawks have legitimate aspirations for a third Stanley Cup in six tries, and even though they value their prospects they aren’t about to turn the roster over.
So, even with the recent moves, chances to leave Rockford and make an impact in Chicago will still be rare. That, Dent said, means “there’s a lot of emotions” as players go up to the Hawks and leave teammates behind in Rockford still working for their NHL opportunities.
“It’s a tough team to crack the lineup of – the Chicago Blackhawks. We’ve been dealing with this since I’ve been here, for eight years now. Good or bad, they’re in the Blackhawks organization and it’s tough to get called up,” Dent said. “When they do, we’re happy for them for sure, but there’s also at times some players here that wish they had their name called and they have to wait their turn.”
Defenseman Stephen Johns briefly had his turn last week. He was recalled on Monday only to be reassigned Tuesday in a move that was likely made for salary cap reasons.
A second-round pick in 2010, Johns joined the Blackhawks organization late last season and appeared in eight games with the IceHogs. By all accounts he had a strong training camp this fall and has done nothing to weaken his standing with the Hawks.
But it was Clendening, who was in his third IceHogs season, that’s getting the first real chance to replace the injured Trevor van Riemsdyk.
“Everyone’s fighting for the spot. If you get your name called, you wish them the best,” Johns said. “I wish [Clendening] stays up there, I hope he does well because if you get called up you don’t want people that you do bad. It kind of works both ways and hopefully it all comes around.”