Antoine Vermette is looking at the bright side. He could be home right now.
“We’re in the playoffs. We’re looking good. We’ve got a great team. This is a great opportunity. I’m excited,” said the Blackhawks forward, who is expected to be a healthy scratch again in Game 2 of the Hawks’ first-round playoff series with the Nashville Predators. “Last time I checked, Arizona — they’re not playing anymore, right?”
Still, the much-anticipated postseason opportunity with the Hawks is a disappointment for the 32-year-old Vermette, who was acquired from the Coyotes for a 2015 first-round draft pick and defenseman Klas Dahlbeck on Feb. 28. Though as a two-way center he was expected to be a great fit for the Hawks, it hasn’t quite worked out under Joel Quenneville. Vermette scored zero goals and three points in 19 games with the Hawks.
Vermette has played in 475 consecutive regular-season games. He’s played in 58 playoff games, including all 54 of his team’s games since his rookie season. He scored four goals and five points against the Hawks in the Coyotes’ 4-2 first-round victory in 2012.
But for now his only role in the playoffs is “good soldier.” There’s some value in that.
“It’s not a usual situation for me,” Vermette said. “But through my career, I’ve taken a lot of pride in bringing a good attitude and be positive and have a constructive mindset around my teammates and that’s exactly what I’ve tried to accomplish here and make myself ready to go when I get the chance.”
Vermette said he does not lament Quenneville’s reasoning in sitting him out. He said he is not injured.
“I don’t want to make this a story about myself,” he said. “It’s about the team right now. Certainly if I would have been better, Q and the coaching staff would evaluate my play better [and] it would be a different situation. It is what is is. I can control what I can control and that’s exactly what I’ll try to do.”
Quenneville said he is counting on Vermette to contribute at some point in the postseason. Vermette is concentrating on being ready for that opportunity. He is not taking the demotion personally.
“All I know is I’m not starting the series — that’s all,” Vermette said. “I’m sure I’m going to get a chance at some point. I’ll make myself ready [for that opportunity]. I’m not focusing [on getting benched]. That’s how I feel. I really, truly believe [that] bringing a good attitude and being good around the guys and establishing a positive and constructive mindset is going to benefit everybody.”