DALLAS — The Blackhawks might be headed outdoors. Again.
The St. Louis Blues are being strongly considered for next year’s Winter Classic at Busch Stadium, with the Hawks as the potential opponent, according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. If true, it would be the Hawks’ third Winter Classic and fifth outdoor game overall. Thirteen teams have never been selected for an outdoor game. The Hawks hosted the Detroit Red Wings at Wrigley Field in the 2009 Classic, hosted the Pittsburgh Penguins at Soldier Field in a Stadium Series game in 2014, played in last year’s Classic at Washington, and will play a Stadium Series game in Minnesota on Feb. 21.
The Hawks had no official comment, deferring to the league, which did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Next year is the NHL’s 100th anniversary, and the Blues’ 50th. Other possibilities for the Winter Classic include Toronto — which already is hosting the World Cup of Hockey and the World Juniors — and a rumored Flyers-Penguins matchup.
Brandon Mashinter knows he’s not going to get a turn on the Blackhawks’ top line anytime soon. He knows what his role is, and he’s fully embraced it.
“I’m not that player that’s going to be playing 20 minutes a night in this league,” Mashinter said. “So you’ve just got to be prepared and chip in when you can.”
He’ll get another chance Saturday night in Dallas, marking the first time he’s played in three straight games since Dec. 11-15. Jiri Sekac will be a healthy scratch for the second straight game, as Mashinter continues to earn more of a regular, if limited role. He has two goals in 23 games, but has been a reliable defensive presence on the fourth line.
“He plays the right way, he plays simple, gives us some speed, and he’s reliable,” Joel Quenneville said. “He’s safe in his ways, but he still has that [physical] presence we talk about. As a teammate you like the presence.”
Of all the players that have been called up from Rockford over the course of the season, Mashinter might seem like an unlikely one to stick for nearly three months, as he has. But the fact is, he’s 27 years old and doesn’t fall under the ‘prospect” label. So the Hawks don’t have to worry about getting him playing time in Rockford, like they do with, say, Marko Dano or Mark McNeill. Mashinter’s value is in his ability to play well despite playing six or seven minutes every game or two, which isn’t easy to do.
“It’s nice to get in a little bit of a rhythm,” Mashinter admitted. “It’s definitely a positive. As I said when I first got here, I’m not going to take it for granted. I’m going come here every day, and work as hard as I can. And at the end of the day, if it doesn’t work out, I can say that I’ve worked my [rear end] off.”
NOTE: Michal Rozsival is in the lineup for the second straight game, with Rob Scuderi and Viktor Svedberg scratched. Corey Crawford and Antti Niemi will start in goal for the Hawks and Stars, respectively.