Peter Regin plus David Rundblad does not equal Patrick Sharp. The Blackhawks know this.
So with Sharp out “probably three to four weeks,” according to coach Joel Quenneville, it’s going to fall on everyone to fill the void left by the Hawks’ most prolific shooter, scorer and power-play point man.
“It’s not just going to be one guy that steps up and makes up for a player like Sharpie,” Patrick Kane said. “It’s just not going to happen. It’s going to have to a whole group effort.”
Sharp suffered an apparent knee injury Tuesday night in Montreal. It came in the third period on a hit in the corner by Alexei Emelin — just as the long-dormant Hawks offense finally was coming to life. The Hawks on Thursday recalled Regin from Rockford, where he was tied for the team lead in points with four goals and six assists. Brandon Saad moved up from the fourth line to the second line, taking Sharp’s spot on the left wing alongside Andrew Shaw and Marian Hossa. Meanwhile, Brad Richards moves up to Sharp’s spot on the first power-play unit, and Rundblad and Michal Rozsival will rotate in Richards’ spot on the second unit.
That’s the ripple effect created by losing a player of Sharp’s caliber and versatility.
“It’s going to be hard,” Hossa said. “But on the other hand, somebody else has a chance to step in. Somebody else is going to have more ice time. I’m sure there are lots of hungry guys to fill that spot.”
Count Regin among those hungry guys. After playing 17 regular-season games and five playoff games with the Hawks last season following a trade from the New York Islanders in January, Regin was ecstatic to re-sign over the summer. But he didn’t make the team out of training camp, cleared waivers and was sent to Rockford.
“It was a tough couple of days,” Regin said. “It wasn’t what I expected. … But after the first couple of days I kind of got over the disappointment and started thinking what I could do to get myself back.”
With 10 points in 11 games, including two overtime goals — including one on Tuesday — Regin caught the Hawks’ attention. Quenneville said “six or seven guys” were under consideration to be called up in the wake of Sharp’s injury, but Regin provides experience (239 games with the Hawks, Islanders and Ottawa Senators), familiarity with the team and versatility, as he can play all three forward positions.
Regin will play on the fourth line with Richards and Jeremy Morin, but hopes his hot start will translate to the NHL.
“Obviously, it’s a different level, and you can’t do all the same things,” he said. “I’m not going to get the same amount of ice time. I probably played close to 20 minutes down there with a lot of PP and stuff — I don’t expect that tomorrow [against Washington]. But it’s nice to see the puck go in a couple of times, and make some passes. And I think mentally that gives you some confidence that you can make plays, even if this is a higher level, I feel confident right now that I can help this team out.”
He needs to be. Along with everyone else in the room.