Antoine Vermette expected to sit in Blackhawks’ opener

SHARE Antoine Vermette expected to sit in Blackhawks’ opener

Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville all but acknowledged that newcomer Antoine Vermette will be out of the lineup when the Hawks open the playoffs against the Nashville Predators on Wednesday at Bridgestone Arena.

Quenneville intimated he still expects to play Vermette sometime in the postseason — and it’s more likely than not that he’ll turn to the two-way center if the Hawks struggle, as they often do, early in the postseason. But his expected absence in Game 1 is a sign that the deadline deal that figured help the Hawks the most has not panned out.

The Hawks traded defensive prospect Klas Dahlbeck and a first-round pick in the 2015 draft to the Arizona Coyotes for Vermette. In 19 games with the Hawks, Vermette had zero goals, three assists and a minus-2 rating. He did score a game-winning shootout goal against the Edmonton Oilers on March 6 at the United Center — completing the rare feat of scoring a game-winning shootout goal against the Hawks and for the Hawks in the same building less than a month apart. He beat the Hawks with the Coyotes on Feb. 9.

Acquired as potentially the No. 2 center the Hawks have lacked, Vermette eventually was moved to wing and taken off face-offs, which was supposed to be a strength. For some reason a  player who seemed like an easy — and welcome — fit for the Hawks and Quenneville has not worked out. Still, Vermette figures to get his chance as the playoffs ensue.

“I think if you’re not playing — everybody wants more time, wants to play a little more in these situations and it’s never easy in that situation,” Quenneville said. “I think you have to put yourself in a position to be ready and get in there.”

Why has Vermette struggled?

“System is probably a little bit different,” Quenneville said. “Speed, pace. Linemates, changing positions and it’s something we’re trying to find the right fit.

But Vermette does not appear to be in the Viktor Stalberg wing of Quenneville’s doghouse. “We have some depth with him right now,” Quenneville said. Asked if he’ll need Vermette  in the playoffs, Quenneville responded quickly, “Absolutely. We’re going to need everybody.”

The Latest
The Blackhawks welcome the No. 1 overall pick in the 2023 NHL Draft into the fold this fall. We provide details on his play, his progress and his promise in Chicago throughout the days leading up to his Oct. 10 debut.
Bedard set up both Hawks goals in a 2-1 overtime win Thursday and more than held his own against the Blues’ top players. But he said he has “a lot better than that” coming soon.
The Cubs’ defense, which has been a strength all season, had notable gaffes in each of the team’s games against the Braves this week. After a 5-3 loss Thursday, which completed the series sweep, the Cubs’ playoff chances looked just as slippery.
Officers found the man, 20, on a sidewalk in the 4000 block of West 18th Street with a gunshot wound to the chest.