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Landlord vs. tenant: Blackhawks’ Connor Murphy faces Ryan Hartman tonight

Blackhawks defenseman Connor Murphy finished morning skate, stripped off his pads in the locker room, then moved on to some personal business. He walked down the corridor to the visiting locker room at the United Center carrying two Whole Foods bags full of mail to his landlord, Nashville right wing Ryan Hartman.

Murphy owed some back rent payments, too.

When the Hawks traded Hartman to the Predators last year, he kept his three-bedroom Lincoln Park condo and eventually leased it to Murphy. Landlord and tenant will square off tonight when their teams meet for the second time this season.

“I have to be physical on him, but not too physical where he’s bumping my rent up,” Murphy said. “It’s always fun to compete against guys you know. When you get in games you don’t really think about being friends with anyone, but after it’s funny to share some laughs.”

Murphy (left) owes Hartman (center) some money today. (AP Photo/Jim Young) ORG XMIT: CXA114

It’ll be contentious on the ice because their positions pit them directly against each other and the Chicago-Nashville rivalry remains feisty, but there won’t be any grumbling about the condo. Murphy described Hartman as the model landlord, citing a recent example when the sink was clogged and Hartman got a plumber there immediately.

NHL players: They’re just like us.

Because Nashville played at Ottawa on Monday, and went overtime at that, Hartman didn’t get a chance to check on in his tenant after landing in Chicago.

Their arrangement has a few quirks beyond the way mail gets relayed.

Rather than the conventional monthly payments, Hartman told Murphy to give him a check whenever the teams play. The next time they’ll settle up again when the teams meet Jan. 9 in Chicago and for the season finale in Nashville on April 6.

“He said it’s just easier to pay him in person,” Murphy said. “It’s simple stuff. Just whenever I run into him. He knows I’m good for it.

“It’s pretty funny. But I like renting a place where you know the guy, so you don’t have some crazy landlord.”

Their bond comes from playing together last season. Hartman began his career with the Hawks in 2014, and Murphy arrived from Arizona in a trade during the 2017 offseason.

Hartman, who was dealt for Victor Ejdsell, plus a first- and fourth-round pick, has nine goals and four assists this season. Ejdsell is the only one of the three players the Hawks acquired to appear in a game for them, logging six games last season. He’s with the Rockford IceHogs this year.