Vinnie Hinostroza bumps Ryan Hartman from Blackhawks’ lineup
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Vinnie Hinostroza believes he should have made the Blackhawks out of training camp. But rather than stew and sulk, Hinostroza used his disappointment and anger as fuel. The result was the best stretch of hockey of his career, and — at long last — a call-up Friday.
“Like I said all season, I just want to take it day by day and work hard to get back here,” Hinostroza said before making his season debut against the Sabres. “Hard work’s not over. I just want to come to the rink every day and still work hard and prove I belong here.”
To make room for Hinostroza, coach Joel Quenneville chose to scratch Ryan Hartman instead of Richard Panik, who hasn’t scored in 19 games. Hinostroza centered Patrick Sharp and Panik on the third line. The speedy Hinostroza had nine goals and 13 assists in 23 games with the Rockford IceHogs. Quenneville wants him to keep that chip on his shoulder now that he’s clawed his way back to the NHL.
“He’s done some good things [in Rockford],” Quenneville said. “Offensively he’s had some good games, has some production, gives us some speed, energy and enthusiasm. I’m sure his appetite for being back here is going to be in the right place.”
Hinostroza said he has learned to harness his speed and to change things up, rather than consistently play like his hair was on fire, as he frequently did during his rookie season last year, when he had six goals and eight assists in 49 games.
“He’s probably one of the few guys that can really create on his own, just with his speed and his whole skill set,” Patrick Kane said. “Obviously, we’re looking for a little bit of a spark.”
Hinostroza had four shots in just over 12 minutes of ice time in the Hawks’ 3-2 overtime victory Friday.
Tanner Kero cleared waivers and was sent to Rockford to make room for Hinostroza. Kero was a healthy scratch in the last 10 games.
“He needs to play,” Quenneville said. “There’s more to his game. We use him as a reliable guy defensively. Offensively, there’s skill there. But he’s got a good understanding of how to play, where to be on the ice, and [we want him to] be confident offensively and be that type of player there.”
Room to breathe
Commissioner Gary Bettman said at the Board of Governors meeting in Palm Beach, Florida, that next year’s salary cap is expected to rise from $75 million to between $78 million and $82 million, depending on how much of their 5 percent escalator the players use. The final number is likely to be around $80 million.
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