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Blackhawks notebook: Vinnie Hinostroza will get opportunity to contribute after quarantine

Plus, Brandon Hagel leaves COVID-19 protocol after positive test determined to be false, and faceoff woes continue to plague the Hawks.

Jeremy Colliton made Vinnie Hinostroza into a productive player during the 2017-18 season and brought him back based on that relationship.
AP file phot/David Zalubowski

Vinnie Hinostroza clearly wasn’t part of coach Joel Quenneville’s plans for the Panthers, considering how eagerly he was dumped in Friday’s trade.

But the Blackhawks see Hinostroza as someone who can play a significant role.

“I feel confident that he can contribute,” coach Jeremy Colliton said Saturday. “We need more of those guys, so [I’m] happy that he’s going to get an opportunity. We’ll see what happens.”

If anyone knows how to maximize Hinostroza’s strengths, it’s probably Colliton.

They are familiar with each other from the 2017-18 AHL season, when Colliton took over as the Rockford IceHogs’ coach and Hinostroza was sent there after Hawks training camp.

Under Colliton’s watch, Hinostroza dominated the minor leagues to the tune of 22 points in his first 23 games. That earned him an early December call-up, and he hasn’t been back in the AHL since.

Any more time in Florida, and he likely would’ve ended up back in the minors, though, so Colliton expects him to be “hungry for the opportunity” with the Hawks. He’s driving the 20 hours to Chicago, rather than flying, to reduce his required quarantine time.

Colliton also insisted Hinostroza’s addition wouldn’t cost a young player such as Philipp Kurashev a roster spot or block a prospect’s route to the NHL.

“It won’t block anyone,” he said. “Ultimately, the guys earn what they get. They’re going to get an opportunity to show what they deserve. But you want to have quality surrounding your young players that play.”

Hagel had false positive

Brandon Hagel was put on the NHL’s COVID-19 protocol list Friday because of a false positive, Colliton said.

After several negative tests in the last 24 hours, Hagel was removed from the list Saturday. He played in the Hawks’ 3-0 loss to the Predators, although Colliton said he “had to jump through quite a few hoops to get” to Nashville because he wasn’t allowed on the team flight Friday.

The Hagel news is certainly a relief for the Hawks — especially in light of the disastrous outbreak among the Canucks that has so far reportedly infected 14 players and three coaches, some severely.

Faceoff woes continue

The Hawks squandered a crucial 1:55 of a five-on-three power play in part because Kirby Dach lost all three faceoffs, giving the Preds three easy clears.

That has been happening all year. The Hawks entered the day 30th in the NHL in power-play faceoff percentage at 46.6% — just slightly better than their 28th-place ranking in overall faceoff percentage.

David Kampf and Carl Soderberg are the Hawks’ only centers above 48% on draws.