Antoine Vermette expected to sit in Blackhawks’ opener

SHARE 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 reasona 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
Already a Hall of Famer, the former Cubs pitcher was humbled and honored to no only have a statue at Gallagher Way adjacent to Wrigley Field — but next to statues of his former teammates Ernie Banks, Billy Williams and Ron Santo.
After taking series from Royals, Sox brace for three games in two days with Yankees
Bernardo Gomez was on the Green Line platform in the 4700 block of West Lake Street when he was kicked in the head by the teenage boy.
The teams combined for 11 home runs on a breezy day at Wrigley Field. But the Diamondbacks hit seven of them — four off Cubs starter Kyle Hendricks. Josh Rojas hit three homers and David Peralta two as Cubs lost their third consecutive game after winning four straight.
It’s an unusual timeline for any legislation to move through the council, and unnecessary at that, said Ald. Brian Hopkins (2nd), who vehemently opposes Bally’s proposal to break ground at Chicago Avenue and Halsted Street.