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Avoiding injuries has enabled Trevor van Riemsdyk to show what he can do

Rookie defenseman Trevor van Riemsdyk (57) has played in all 48 of the Hawks’ games this season. He has two goals and three assists. | Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images


For the Sun-Times

Blackhawks defenseman Trevor van Riemsdyk always has impressed his older brother, James. But he really showed him something by how he handled adversity the last couple of years.

James, a forward for the Toronto Maple Leafs, watched as Trevor endured a season-ending broken ankle at the University of New Hampshire in January 2014, a fractured knee with the Hawks in November 2014 and a wrist injury with the Rockford IceHogs in March 2015. As a result, Trevor had two surgeries and played a total of 56 games in two seasons.

Despite that, James said he never witnessed Trevor feel sorry for himself. The work ethic stayed strong. The smile never disappeared. His positive attitude kept pushing him forward.

‘‘Just how he was able to stay even-keeled through the whole process was impressive,’’ said James, who recently suffered a broken foot. ‘‘He’s always been driven and determined, and him going through all those injuries really highlighted those traits about him.’’

Being away from hockey so much in the last couple of years has made Trevor van Riemsdyk grateful to be on the ice consistently this season. He has remained healthy and has played in all 48 of the Hawks’ games.

Van Riemsdyk is still technically an NHL rookie, and that has been noticeable at times. His minus-3 goal differential in five-on-five play is an indicator of that. He has been used in a more offensive role lately, which has helped his plus/minus and increased his shot attempts. He is a plus-2 during the Hawks’ 11-game winning streak.

Van Riemsdyk said he has been striving to play a more consistent game.

‘‘As far as consistency goes, you want to be consistent night to night and not just have a good game here and there or mix in a terrible one in between good ones,’’ he said. ‘‘You’ve got to find that consistency where they can count on you to be reliable and know what they’re getting from you.’’

Hawks coach Joel Quenneville has shown confidence in van Riemsdyk by playing him significant minutes and giving him a role on the penalty kill. Van Riemsdyk ranks first on the team and is tied for 11th in the league with 97 blocked shots. He also is averaging 20 minutes, 9 seconds of ice time, only eight seconds fewer than Johnny Oduya averaged last season.

Quenneville said he likes the development he has seen in van Riemsdyk this season.

‘‘I think we’re using him in a lot of different situations,’’ Quenneville said. ‘‘Playing both sides helps our team, [and he] gets more ice time because of that. He got some assignments earlier in the year where he was against top lines or second lines. He gets responsibilities in our own end, as well, and he’ll get better at killing plays.

‘‘But we still like the way he handles the puck, moves it, sees plays. And defending, with more experience, he’ll only get better as he goes.’’

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