For David Rundblad, it’s pretty simple, really.
“It’s fun to play games,” he said.
And for nearly three years, he hasn’t had much of a chance to do that. Not in the NHL, at least. The 2009 first-round pick of the St. Louis Blues was an everyday player for a couple of months as a rookie with the Ottawa Senators. Then he was traded to the Phoenix Coyotes, and when he wasn’t in the American Hockey League, he pretty much gave up his uniform for a nice suit, and his spot on the bench for a spot in the press box.
He spent nearly all of last season as a healthy scratch, first with the Coyotes, then with the Blackhawks, who acquired him for a second-round pick in March. He played just 12 of the Coyotes’ 61 games, then just five of the Hawks’ 20, and none in the playoffs.
And there were times Rundblad wondered if he’d ever get a real chance to be a regular.
“It’s tough to stay positive and believe in yourself when you sit for such a long time,” he said. “Every time I get to play a game, I get a little more comfortable, a little more confidence, and a little bit happier.”
Well, he’s finally finding happiness. Rundblad played for the fourth straight game on Sunday night against San Jose, as he’s seized the sixth defenseman spot from struggling veteran Michal Rozsival.
“I liked his progress,” Joel Quenneville said. “I think with the puck, he’s making good decisions with it, I think his gap’s been better, I think positionally he’s been good, he’s been aware.”
And Rundblad’s comfort in the Hawks’ system is leading to more aggressiveness. He had just two shots in his first four games. He had four on Friday against Washington alone, and had two assists in Montreal the previous game. And he expects it to only get better from here.
“The last couple of games, I’ve been more into everything, because I’m playing more,” he said. “All you want to do is play games — that’s why you play. I believe in myself that I can play in this league, and hopefully I keep getting a chance to prove it.”