Blackhawks’ Murphy to be out longer than expected — bring on Jokiharju?

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Chicago Blackhawks defenseman Henri Jokiharju, of Finland, carries the puck against the Columbus Blue Jackets during a preseason NHL hockey game in Columbus, Ohio, Tuesday, Sept. 19, 2017. | Paul Vernon/Associated Press

Defenseman Henri Jokiharju’s dream of making the Blackhawks’ roster is looking more and more like a reality as camp progresses.

The Hawks announced Wednesday that defenseman Connor Murphy (back) will be out longer than originally anticipated. The team said it plans to re-evaluate him after six weeks off the ice and it’s expected that Murphy won’t be able to return for eight to 12 weeks. That means he potentially wouldn’t crack the lineup until mid-December.

The Hawks likely will turn to Jokiharju, a right-handed defenseman who scored 71 points in the Western Hockey League last season, to fill the void.

At the start of training camp, coach Joel Quenneville seemed hesitant at the idea of having a young defenseman like Jokiharju, a first-round draft pick in 2017, breaking camp with the Hawks.

But after he saw what Jokiharju was capable of in a 4-1 preseason loss to the Columbus Blue Jackets on Tuesday, Quenneville’s tone changed.

“I like him. You notice him on the ice,” Quenneville said. “He’s got a little bit of everything to his game . . . The adjustments from juniors is going to be something that he acquires as we’re going along. But he’s pretty adept on assessing situations when the danger’s there and when it’s not. I thought he did a really good job last night.

“I know it’s only one exhibition game, but he certainly helps himself every single day by the way he comes to the rink. He brings an element where you can see he wants to get better; he wants to learn. He wants to make the team.”

After spending most of the start of camp paired with veteran defenseman Duncan Keith, Jokiharju was paired with Brandon Manning at practice.

Corey Crawford update

Goalie Corey Crawford, who is suffering from concussion symptoms, had his sixth consecutive on-ice workout with goaltender coach Jimmy Waite, but it was his shortest one yet. After 20 minutes of on-ice work, Crawford left the rink with trainer Mike Gapski.

Quenneville advised reporters not to “read too much into” Crawford leaving the ice earlier than his previous 30-minute sessions. Quenneville also said Crawford has continued to show improvement and is feeling better but refused to speculate as to whether or not Crawford would be ready for opening night.

Crawford will have a day off Thursday and likely will return to the ice Friday, Quenneville said.

First-round roster moves

The Hawks made their first round of roster moves and re-assigned goalie Alexis Gravel, forward Philipp Kurashev and defenseman Jake Ryczek to their respective Quebec Major Junior Hockey League teams. The Hawks also released forward Shaw Boomhower from his amateur tryout.

The Hawks’ camp roster now consists of 53 players (28 forwards, 19 defensemen and six goaltenders). The biggest position battles remaining are for the 14th forward and seventh defenseman.


Duncan Keith flexes confidence at 35 with no plans to slow down

Alex DeBrincat looks for consistency

This and that

Quenneville confirmed that captain Jonathan Toews and right wing Patrick Kane will play in the preseason game against the Red Wings on Thursday at Detroit. He also hinted that it’s likely right wing Alex DeBrincat and left wing Chris Kunitz will make the trip. The two goalies going will be Anton Forsberg and Kevin Lankinen, Quenneville said.

  • The Hawks announced defenseman Jan Rutta is day-by-day with a groin injury. Quenneville said his injury “is not major.”
  • Blackhawks prospect Anthony Louis missed practice for a medical appointment.
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