The waiting is the hardest part for Blackhawks’ Jordan Oesterle

SHARE The waiting is the hardest part for Blackhawks’ Jordan Oesterle

Jordan Oesterle has played in just four games this season despite being on the roster since opening night. (AP Photo)

Conventional wisdom says that a young player is better off playing every night in the minor leagues than spending every NHL game in the press box as a healthy scratch. But conventional wisdom never spent six hours in a bus driving across the Midwest to go play three games in three nights in front of a couple thousand people.

So, no, Jordan Oesterle wouldn’t rather be in Rockford right now. But that doesn’t mean that he was content to be a healthy scratch for the 14th time in 15 games Thursday night against the Stars.

“It’s had its points where it’s been challenging,” Oesterle said of playing just four of the Hawks’ first 25 games. “I want to be playing every night and helping this team win. But even with what’s going on, it’s going to help me as a player down the road. From the beginning of the season and training camp, I feel drastically improved. I feel a lot more comfortable. Now I have to just keep working and waiting for my chance.”


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At 25, Oesterle isn’t really a prospect anymore. He has spent most of the last three seasons in the American Hockey League, and has 29 NHL games under his belt with the Oilers and Blackhawks. But if he didn’t have to clear waivers to be demoted, he probably would be in Rockford by now. He firmly believes he is an NHL player. He is just waiting for his chance to prove it.

Thing is, that chance likely won’t come unless there’s an injury (or two, considering Michal Kempny is a healthy scratch for the seventh straight game). So for now, he’ll just keep working and waiting.

“Team success is just as much success for us,” Oesterle said. “Once you make a team at the beginning of the year, you buy into that team, and do whatever you have to do to help that team win — whether it’s practicing or playing in games. As long as we win and continue to play as well as we have, then it’s fairly enjoyable to watch.”

Grandpa Sharp

Patrick Sharp was the big brother in his early years in Chicago, well known for tormenting the Hawks’ two biggest stars, Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews, during their first few years in the league. During his two seasons in Dallas, however, there were no such pranks awaiting Jamie Benn and Tyler Seguin.

“I was the grandfather over there,” Sharp said. “I was older than all those guys by a couple years. I thought I was getting older in the Hawks’ locker room, then I went to play for the Stars and realized I was really old.”

Play smart

Kane was fined $5,000 for a two-handed slash Monday on Anaheim’s Nick Ritchie, and managed to avoid supplemental discipline for a cross-check to the face of Nashville’s Kevin Fiala in the third period on Tuesday night. But the penalty led to what proved to be the game-winning power-play goal for the Predators.

“We have to be smarter,” coach Joel Quenneville said. “We’ve taken some needless penalties, and they’re looking for that more, whether it’s the whack or the slash. They’re looking to call penalties. Whether it’s retaliation or slashes, don’t make it easy on the referee.”

Tootoo returns

Jordin Tootoo, who was put on injured reserve at the end of training camp with an undisclosed injury, cleared waivers and will report to Rockford. Quenneville said the 34-year-old veteran indeed plans to keep playing.

Follow me on Twitter @MarkLazerus.


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