Sam Lafferty hoping to retain sizable role in ‘fresh start’ with Blackhawks

The ex-Penguins forward played 15:17 in his Hawks debut Thursday, then was promoted to third-line center Saturday.

SHARE Sam Lafferty hoping to retain sizable role in ‘fresh start’ with Blackhawks

Sam Lafferty made his Blackhawks debut Thursday after playing 10 games earlier this season for the Penguins.

AP Photos

The start of forward Sam Lafferty’s tenure with the Hawks wasn’t ideal.

One day after his trade Jan. 5 from the Penguins, he arrived in Chicago and tested positive for COVID-19, leaving him stuck in a hotel room in an unfamiliar city and absent from what was supposed to be his first road trip with the Hawks.

‘‘It was pretty crazy, a tough bounce,’’ he said Friday. ‘‘Luckily, it was only five days. I should be in the clear for the next 90 days or so, so [it’s] nice to get it out of the way in that sense.’’

(Lafferty was referring to a rule in which the NHL doesn’t resume testing players who recover from COVID until 90 days later.)

Lafferty, 26, finally made his Hawks debut Thursday against the Canadiens — although it was overshadowed by rookieLukas Reichel’sdebut — and played more than 15 minutes.

He had averaged less than nine minutes during his 10 appearances this season with the Penguins, despite generating a solid 57.1% scoring-chance ratio at even strength with them. He continued that Thursday by being on the ice for five Hawks chances and only two Canadiens chances.

‘‘[The trade was] still a bit of a shock to the system, but when I heard it was Chicago, I was super excited,’’ he said. ‘‘Just a fresh start is huge. I can come in here and hopefully carve out a role with this team.

‘‘Everyone’s been really good to me so far, so I want to return the favor and play some good hockey.’’

Lafferty started on the fourth line against the Canadiens but was bumped up to the third-line center role against the Ducks, in between Henrik Borgstrom and surging Philipp Kurashev. He also has stepped in on the penalty kill.

Interim coachDerek King sees Lafferty as best-suited at center, citing his strong skating, and Lafferty named his skating and speed as the ‘‘cornerstones’’ of his game.

“If I’m given an opportunity to show what I can do, I’m looking forward to that,” he added. “Hopefully we can keep it rolling here.”

The Latest
The Rev. Immanuel Karunakaran was one of four McCormick Theological Seminary graduates who worked on the mural there. He says he aimed to show the complexity of ‘God within our suffering.’
Millions of the trackers have been sold since they were introduced last year. And reports to the Chicago Police Department of unwanted surveillance or stalking using them soon began.
Demarlin Brewer, 47, is also charged in a River North theft and burglary, Chicago police said.
The Illinois Department of Children and Family Services said “no signs of abuse, neglect or danger were noted by our investigator.”
Just cause to celebrate the first sweep of the medals by Chicago-area teams at the IHSA’s state finals for bass fishing and to ponder the state of the state finals and Carlyle Lake.