‘Optimistically,’ Marcus Kruger could return Saturday at Calgary

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Blackhawks forward Marcus Kruger, a key player on the penalty kill and at the face-off circle, has missed the last 60 games after undergoing surgery for a dislocated wrist. (Mark Zaleski/AP)

Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville was optimistic about the return of forward Marcus Kruger, who has been out since Dec. 18 after undergoing surgery for a dislocated wrist. Kruger returned to practice on March 13. He is expected to return at some point of the upcoming four-game western road trip.

“Optimistically, I wouldn’t [discount] the possibility of him even playing Saturday [against the Flames in Calgary],” Quenneville said. “I’m hopeful, but we’ll see.”

Kruger sounds ready to go after missing the Hawks’ last 40 games.

“It’s been a long journey,” said Kruger, who has no goals, one point and is a minus-5 this season. “It feels better and better out there. I’m trying to get in shape and then obviously waiting for what the doctor says.”

Kruger said he does not expect to be limited when he returns — though conditioning issues figure to limit his ice time at first.

“What I’ve been told, it’s going to be close to what it was before,” Kruger said. “Obviously being out for a long time, it’s not going to be perfect from the start. [But] it’s going to be pretty close to normal.”

Kruger isn’t an effusive player, but he is eager to get back in a game. Since he left, he has a new uniform number (22 after he gave No. 16 to Andrew Ladd) and a new contract — three years, $9.25 million.

“It’s going to be a lot of fun,” he said. “I’ve been sitting on the sideline watching the guys, they’ve been playing great. You want to help out so bad and be out there with them. It’s been tough. It’s been a long journey, but I’m looking forward to it ending. Hopefully I learned something from it and I’m better when I come back.”

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