Henri Jokiharju was the Blackhawks’ first-round pick (29th overall) on June 23. (Getty Images)

Henri Jokiharju getting up to speed in training camp

SHARE Henri Jokiharju getting up to speed in training camp
SHARE Henri Jokiharju getting up to speed in training camp

COLUMBUS, Ohio — Coach Joel Quenneville seems to have the same disdain for practicing that most players do, so Blackhawks workouts are a marvel of efficiency. Players are in constant motion, burning through drills and rarely stopping for a breath. The Hawks practice like they try to play — at top speed.

Players love it because they get the same amount of work done in less time than some teams. But it can take some getting used to.

‘‘I’ve been kind of tired,’’ said defenseman Henri Jokiharju, the Hawks’ first-round draft pick. ‘‘It’s pretty tough, and we’re training hard. But it’s fun. The pace is faster, and I like it. I just have to get used to it.’’

Jokiharju made his preseason debut Tuesday in Columbus, part of a ragtag group of prospects with a couple of more established guys — including Nick Schmaltz and Vinnie Hinostroza — mixed in. It was the latest in a summer full of unforgettable moments for the 18-year-old Finn.

‘‘It’s unreal for me,’’ he said. ‘‘This is the NHL here. It’s where I want to be. It’s awesome.’’

Jokiharju, who said he’s 100 percent after suffering a knee injury Aug. 1 at the World Junior Summer Showcase, will go back to his junior team in Portland sometime in the next two weeks. In the meantime, he has been soaking up the NHL experience as much as he can. He already had met Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane at the draft, but he has relished the chance to skate alongside — or against — Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook.

During one camp scrimmage, Jokiharju was feeling a bit lost on the ice. He mustered up the courage to ask Seabrook for some help.

‘‘I just asked,’’ Jokiharju said with a shrug. ‘‘He gave me a little tip on how to defend better. Those guys welcomed me pretty good in the locker room.’’

Cracking down

In eight preseason games Monday, there were a staggering 46 slashing penalties called. On top of that, there were nine faceoff-violation minors, normally a rare penalty. It’s all by design.

The league has decided to crack down on slashes, particularly those across the hands, in an effort to prevent injuries. Last season, the Flames’ Johnny Gaudreau missed 10 games with a broken finger caused by the Wild’s Eric Staal and the Senators’ Marc Methot had his pinkie partially severed by a slash from the Penguins’ Sidney Crosby.

Cheating on faceoffs — a hockey pastime forever — is being targeted, too. Officials are more strictly enforcing the markings at the dot, ensuring players stay behind them.

‘‘I think players are smart,’’ said Quenneville, who planned to remind his players of the crackdown shortly before the game. ‘‘They’re adapting quickly; they’re going to know about it. We’ll see how it plays out throughout the year.’’

No DeBrincat

Alex DeBrincat was expected to make his preseason debut, but he stayed back in Chicago. Among the players who flew to Columbus were the four veterans on player tryouts: defensemen Cody Franson and Mark Stuart and forwards Drew Miller and John Mitchell.

Follow me on Twitter @MarkLazerus.

Email: mlazerus@suntimes.com


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