After his skate got caught and his left leg got wrenched while he was trying to make a play at the net Friday night in Nashville, Ryan Hartman’s first thought wasn’t about how long he’d be out for, or how an injury could derail his strong start to the season.
“Honestly, trying to get a whistle was the first thing on my mind,” Hartman said.
So even though he was having trouble standing, let alone skating, Hartman limped in the way of a P.K. Subban shot to block it during a delayed penalty call on Brian Campbell, hoping it would catch enough of his stick to stop play. Instead, he took the shot off the thigh, adding injury to injury.
“Whatever it takes,” Hartman shrugged.
After the game, Hawks coach Joel Quenneville suggested Hartman was going to “miss some time,” and Hartman said the initial diagnosis was weeks, not days. But Hartman was back on the ice Tuesday for the Hawks’ morning skate, and hopes to play Friday night in Columbus.
“When you feel pain and you feel injured, it’s definitely a scary thought,” Hartman said. “We’ve got a really good medical staff here. They did everything they needed to do, and luckily found out it wasn’t too serious. Looking forward to getting back to being game-ready.”
Left or right?
Quenneville originally planned for Brian Campbell to play on his natural left side this season, but the emergence of left-handed shot Gustav Forsling forced Campbell to the right side. While Quenneville has stuck with that pairing so far, he said “at some point” he’d like to have every defenseman, including Campbell, back on his natural side.
“I’ve played the left side for the last five years, so everything’s a little backwards right now,” Campbell admitted. “But I’m getting comfortable there. Wherever they need me, I’m there, I’m ready. That’s not up to me. We have eight great defensemen here, so I’m just trying to help out any way I can, and I feel I can do the job either way.”
Dennis Rasmussen made his season debut in Hartman’s absence, and is making a case to stay in the lineup once Hartman returns. The second-year Swede can play wing or center, and is seeing some time on the penalty-kill, as well. That could give him an edge over Jordin Tootoo or one of the other rookies in the battle for playing time.
“He did a lot of good things,” Quenneville said. “He did the same thing in camp. He proved he wanted to make the club, he wanted to stay here, got in, and gave us a different look and different options on that [fourth] line. … It was just a matter of time before he got in there. Now we have different options with him in the lineup.”
Rasmussen knows his versatility is the key to his success.
“If I can play different roles and different ways, I feel like that can give me an advantage,” he said. “They can use me in a lot of situations. That’s kind of how it’s been before, too. I just try to do whatever the coaches want me to do, and just be a player they can trust in any situation.”