clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Hawks goalie Kevin Lankinen enters COVID-19 protocol

On the last day of 2021, Lankinen joined Marc-Andre Fleury in the protocol.

Kevin Lankinen entered the COVID-19 protocol, leaving the Blackhawks with netminders Collin Delia and Arvid Söderblom.
AP

When discussing what the Blackhawks hope to see from forward Jujhar Khaira in his return to the lineup, interim coach Derek King referenced a famous Oscar-winning Tom Hanks movie.

“I’m looking forward to having him back,” King said. “I know the team is, but he can’t just go out there and [have] . . . I call it a ‘Forrest Gump’ game. He needs to just simplify his game and keep it very simple and easy and shorten his shifts and really manage his game.”

King went on to explain what he meant by a “Forrest Gump” game.

“If you watch ‘Forrest Gump,’ he gets so much in [2½ hours],” King said. “I don’t need him going out there doing a ‘Forrest Gump,’ trying to be the hero and solve our problems all in three periods. He’s got to play his game and manage it.”

Perhaps it’s fitting to bring up that film because life around the Hawks — and the NHL — these days is like a box of chocolates. Nobody knows what they’re going to get, and the Hawks experienced that uncertainty again on the last day of 2021.

On Friday, the Hawks announced that they put goalie Kevin Lankinen in the COVID-19 protocol. Lankinen joins Marc-Andre Fleury in the protocol, leaving the Hawks with Collin Delia and Arvid Soderblom for the Saturday matinee in Nashville, Tennessee, against the Predators. They also signed goalie prospect Cale Morris to an NHL contract, adding him to the taxi squad, and moved Soderblom from the taxi squad to the active roster.

Before practice, King said Fleury still isn’t ready and had another test left.

“I doubt he’s available for us right away,” King said.

Delia, the likely starter against the Predators, has appeared in 24 NHL games but none this season. In six appearances last season, he had a 3.59 goals-against average and a .902 save percentage.

In the era of COVID-19, changing on the fly is a part of life. On Saturday, the Hawks will have to adjust to playing in front of Delia as they try to inch closer to a Western Conference wild-card spot.

“I think you’ve got to be ready for anything, especially nowadays,” forward Dylan Strome said. “Two years of this now, so we’re adjusting on the fly. [Delia] has played some games before, he’s been good for us, he’s worked hard in practice and it’s good to see.”

It will be especially good for the Hawks to see Khaira back on the ice in a game.

He hasn’t played since Dec. 7, when he was leveled by Rangers defenseman Jacob Trouba and stretchered off the ice in front of a stunned United Center crowd. Khaira was activated off injured reserve Thursday, and the Hawks are expecting to get a boost from his return.

“It’s going to be huge,” King said. “Even just when he first practiced with us, came back on the ice and guys saw him around the locker room, you could see the guys light up.”

Khaira’s teammates haven’t played much recently because of COVID-related postponements. The game against the Preds is the Hawks’ first since an overtime loss Dec. 18 to the Stars.

Since then, they’ve wondered what’s next, practiced and waited for their next chance to play against another team, which will finally arrive Saturday.

“It’s been awhile, obviously,” Strome said. “Long break, got some good practice days, got a little vacation. Well, not really a vacation but Christmas. It’s been good, so I think everyone’s itching to get back out there. A lot of games coming up the next couple of months. I think [January is] our busiest month, so ready to get going.”