Finally healthy after shoulder surgery, Calvin de Haan boosts Blackhawks’ defense

De Haan’s recent career has been plagued with shoulder injuries, but a new type of surgery will hopefully solve the problem.

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After three shoulder surgeries in as many years, Blackhawks defenseman Calvin de Haan hopes his future will be healthier.

AP Photo/Kamil Krzaczynski

Calvin de Haan is tired of shoulder injuries, shoulder pain and shoulder surgeries.

He’s probably tired of talking about his shoulders, too.

So as he returns to game action for the Blackhawks, seven months removed from his third shoulder surgery in as many years, he’s hoping to stay healthy for the rest of his career.

“I was just coming into my stride as a Blackhawk there, and it just took the winds out of my sails,” de Haan said Friday, referring to his regular season-ending procedure last December.

“It was my third year in a row going through that, so it was hard mentally. It was tough going through that. You think it’s behind you, and then it happens again and again. It’s just unfortunate. It’s something I can’t control.”

At the time, he figured his 2019-20 season was done after just 29 games, much like his 33-game 2017-18 season with the Islanders.

The coronavirus pandemic and season delay provided a bit of good luck for once, though, and now de Haan, 29, feels healthy and ready for the playoffs.

The recent surgery he had was done differently than his previous ones by installing an “internal brace inside your body,” and he hopes that’ll be a permanent solution.

He missed a week of training camp with a family emergency, but practiced fully Thursday, Friday and Saturday at the end of camp. The Blackhawks flew to Edmonton on Sunday.

“The rinks back home [in Ontario] opened up pretty early compared to most places on the planet, so I was able to get out on the ice and get a head start on things,” de Haan said. “It’s obviously different in a game, but I feel good the past few skates here.”

Especially with Brent Seabrook — also coming off shoulder surgery in the winter —not playing in the playoffs, de Haan’s reliable defense will be vital for the Hawks’ defense.

He was averaging more than 25 minutes in the last three games before his injury.

“[Calvin has] looked really good since he came back,” coach Jeremy Colliton said. “It’ll take a few more days to get up to full speed, but he plays such a patient, controlled game, very intelligent with making contact, getting stops.”

De Haan said he still remembers the (albeit innocent) hit by Vegas’ Mark Stone “like it was yesterday,” and the frustration of yet another rehab clearly still wears on him. One quote — “I’ve suffered enough” — was especially telling about that.

But at least it’s now completely in the past.

“Hopefully all these unfortunate injuries are behind me. Hopefully I can be healthy for years to come and play a long time in this league,” he said. “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger — I believe in that.”

Note: The NHL announced playoff rosters Sunday. The Hawks are bringing most of their camp roster; the only cuts were forward Reese Johnson, defenseman Chad Krys and goaltender Matt Tomkins.

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