Alexandre Fortin ‘making it interesting’ in bid for Hawks’ roster

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The intrigue surrounding 19-year-old Alexandre Fortin has turned to serious thought. Every time the Blackhawks raise the bar, the kid keeps clearing it.

Fortin still figures to be returned to the Rouyn-Noranda Huskies of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League, but that’s no certainty any more. After scoring on a breakaway against the Red Wings on Sunday, coach Joel Quenneville put Fortin on the top line with Patrick Kane and Artem Anisimov against the Wings on Tuesday at the United Center, and Fortin responded with a goal and a primary assist in a 6-1 Hawks rout.

But more than that, Fortin looks like he belongs on this stage. With one game remaining in the preseason — Saturday night against the Blues at Scottrade Center — the Hawks are running out of time for Fortin to become overwhelmed by the moment. And while it’s only the preseason, Quenneville saw indicators that Fortin has what it takes to make the transition to the speed and rough-and-tumble of an NHL regular season.

“You certainly like his speed — that’s the thing you notice right off the bat,” Quenneville said. “He’s got good patience and play recognition. He played with a couple of players who are definitely special in a lot of ways, so it was a different type of line he was with. He wasn’t too intimidated by their presence.

“So I commend him on handing that situation as well. But to forecast down the road, it’s certainly encouraging. We have some real tough decisions to make and he’s one of the guys that’s making it interesting.”

Fortin, an undrafted forward signed to a three-year entry-level contrct on Sept. 25 after impressive performances at the Hawks’ prospect game and rookie tournament, is unfazed by the attention and has embraced the opportunity to skate with the NHL’s reigning Hart Trophy winner.

“It’s fun,” Fortin said. “It’s amazing and I will enjoy this moment. I just wanted to come into camp and show everybody what kind of player I am. Now I have the chance to really play with these guys. I’ll try not to be nervous. Like coach said, I don’t have to be nervous playing with these guys. They are good. They will feed me. I just have to play my game.”

Against the Red Wings on Tuesday night, Fortin assisted on Richard Panik’s goal that made it 3-0 with an impressive cross-ice pass. He scored in the third period by charging the net, when he picked up a short rebound in front of Jimmy Howard, kicked the puck to his stick and fired a deep-angle shot from the goal line behind Howard and into the net.

While still a teenager, Fortin has a key factor in his favor — he learns well.

“He absorbs information,” Quenneville said. “He’s a quick study of the game. He’s willing to do anything he can to help himself get an extended opportunity here.”

And it doesn’t hurt that he’s in a locker room wit players who have won multiple Stanley Cups.

“When you watch a guy like [Jonathan] Toews, you know that he’s a pro and you want to be like him,” Fortin said. “[You learn] everything. The confidence they have. Being game-ready. They know what you have to do to win a championship and that’s what I want to take from them. And I will.”

Fortin was 13 when Toews, Kane, Marian Hossa, Duncan Keith, Brent Seabrook and Brian Campbell won the Stanley Cup in 2010. Though he’s been an unheralded prospect until now, he believed even then that he would get to this level — and do big things.

“I always said, if you believe me or not, I will play in this league and win a Stanley Cup. It’s just how and when. But I’ll win one for sure some day.”

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