Dennis Rasmussen’s attitude and approach never changed.
When the Blackhawks recalled the Swedish forward in early December, Rasmussen took it for what it was: an opportunity. He didn’t know how long it would last, so he played like his time with the Blackhawks could end as quickly as it began.
“I’ve felt like that my whole life, though. It’s not that I’m being called up right now and I feel like that. When I played in Sweden, when I was younger, too, it was about taking it day by day. I never look two games ahead,” Rasmussen said. “But of course in the beginning, you’re feeling that even more.”
Three months later, Rasmussen is still here. He’s been a reliable fourth-line center for the Blackhawks, strong defensively and adding a few points (four goals, four assist). And while Rasmussen knows he could be out of the lineup as injured Blackhawks return, he’s focused on the present, not the potential future.
“It’s been a fun ride, I’ve learned a lot,” he said. “You get more comfortable, even if you feel the pressure to be good every day and I don’t take anything for granted. I just want to be good every practice, every game.”
Rasmussen has filled a big void for the Blackhawks these last few months. While he’s played with several players in his time here, Rasmussen has been the one constant on that line. Coach Joel Quenneville said the 25-year-old has done well.
“I know it’s a big jump from the American league to this level. He came in and gave us some size in the middle, predictability as well, and defensively he was solid,” Quenneville said. “That line scored some goals as we progressed. We started seeing more scoring on all four lines and his line was doing what we would hope they’d do: be defensively reliable and score some goals, and he was part of that.”
Rasmussen played 73 games with the Rockford IceHogs last season. Prior to that he played three seasons with the Växjö Lakers of the Swedish Hockey League. Rasmussen said the Lakers play the same style of hockey the Blackhawks do, so his time there was valuable. He also learned from time on nation teams; Sweden won bronze at the 2010 World Juniors and at the 2014 IIHF World Championships.
“I had three years in the top league there, played pro, played a lot of minutes, power play, penalty kill and stuff like that. But I also think the national team prepared me a lot,” he said. “I played some international games and a championship. That really helped, too.”
Rasmussen knows the business side of this. He knows he may not be in the lineup much longer, especially when Marcus Kruger returns. Rasmussen will worry about that then. Right now, he has his next game for which to prepare.
“It’s a boring answer, but I do take it day by day. We have a game and that’s the only thing I’m focusing on,” Rasmussen said with a smile. “That’s all I can do: play well on the ice.”