After an injury scare, Blackhawks defenseman Brent Seabrook was relieved to join his teammates on the ice for practice Sunday at MB Ice Arena.
Seabrook missed the first two days of training camp because of an abdominal injury.
“To be honest, when doc gave me the news, I freaked out,” Seabrook said. “Obviously, you know, I put a lot of effort into this summer trying to get my body where it needs to be to have a good season and have a good camp.”
After practice, Seabrook said he felt pretty good. That’s important because the Hawks are relying on Seabrook — who led the team’s defensemen with seven goals last season — to be in their top two pairings.
“We’re going to need him to be an important player for us this year,” coach Joel Quenneville said.
Seabrook, 33, admitted it’s getting more difficult for him to keep up with the younger players.
“I don’t think I’m going to catch them as I’m getting older,” Seabrook said. “But I can put myself in good positions and situations where I’m not getting beat and have to turn around and chase them.”
Because of how the league is changing, Seabrook concentrated some of his offseason efforts to single-leg strength, which could help him get a better push off to close gaps. But he also is staying true to his physical style of play.
“I’m me, and it’s not going to change,” Seabrook said. “The abilities I have, I can work on making them quicker, faster, better, but what you see is what you get. I don’t think you can change with the times other than trying to get better. You’re always learning out there.”
Quenneville noticed the hard work Seabrook put in this summer.
“He did a really good job with training and pushing it to the next level,” Quenneville said. “You’re looking at his fitness levels, he’s way better than he’s ever been. And that commitment shows that he’s doing everything he can to enhance his game and enhance our team game.”
Corey Crawford update
Goalie Corey Crawford returned to the ice for another half-hour solo session with goaltending coach Jimmy Waite. This was his second session in which he deflected shots from Waite, who upped the tempo and power from the practice Friday.
Crawford still is dealing with symptoms from a concussion he suffered last year. Quenneville said the plan is to get Crawford on the ice as much as possible. Quenneville has been pleased with Crawford’s progress over the last week and a half.
“He’s stronger, and he’s feeling better,” Quenneville said. “So it’s all encouraging.”
Crawford didn’t participate in the team scrimmage Saturday, and he hasn’t practiced with the team since a morning skate Feb. 12 in Arizona.
Crawford’s timetable to return is unknown, meaning goalie Cam Ward likely will start the regular-season opener with Anton Forsberg as his probable backup.
Quenneville’s preseason plan
In the past, Hawks veterans have played in only the preseason home games, and the developing players have played on the road. But Quenneville hinted that might change this preseason.
He said he plans to have the veterans play in one of the three road games on top of the three home games.