Trevor van Riemsdyk isn’t fazed about switching from left to right and back again on defense.
The defenseman did the same thing at the University of New Hampshire, going from his natural right side to the left as the team needed. It got to be a typical part of his game. With the Blackhawks, it still is.
“Whatever they need,” van Riemsdyk said. “Whether you have a bunch of lefties or righties in the lineup or the matchups and pairings they want to go with. You just have to be ready, have to be able to play either side, know when you’re going out there what side you’re supposed to be on, play accordingly.”
Van Riemsdyk has done plenty of moving around the lineup for the Blackhawks this season, having several different defensive partners and playing on the right and left sides. For a team that loves a versatile player, van Riemsdyk has fit in various ways.
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“It’s good having that flexibility on the back end. It gives you a lot of options in games,” coach Joel Quenneville said. “He can play both sides, play with anybody, can play all situations and can kill penalties. He’s been helpful in a lot of ways. We’re going to need him to continue to play and get better as we go along.”
Van Riemsdyk has played with everyone at some point this season. He started the preseason with Duncan Keith. Then he was with Niklas Hjalmarsson, then Brent Seabrook and then Michal Rozsival and former Blackhawks Trevor Daley and Rob Scuderi and ... you get the picture. Part of it has been the Blackhawks looking for the right combinations on defense. Some defensemen — Keith and Seabrook — stay on their usual sides.
Van Riemsdyk has been one who’s gone back and forth, but his college days have prepped him for this. As a freshman at UNH, van Riemsdyk played left and right side. He spent of his sophomore season on the left and then was back on the right for his junior year. So he’s used to this.
And his partners with the Blackhawks are usually pretty good.
“Yeah, it’s not too bad. Looking at the guys I get to play with, whether it’s Duncs, Seabs for a little bit, Hammer at the start of the year ... they’re all great players and they make it easy to play with them,” van Riemsdyk said. “Everyone’s pretty well aware of what we’re trying to do on the ice, so it’s not too challenging when you’re switching guys up because you have so many guys who are such great players. They make it easy for me.”
What’s also helped van Riemsdyk is a full, healthy season. He hasn’t had one of those in a while. He suffered a fractured ankle during his junior season at UNH, then a fractured kneecap and wrist injury, both of which required surgery, last season with the Blackhawks. Van Riemsyk has had his ups and downs this season, and his shifts from left to right. But the one constant has been his health, which has given him a chance to have a complete season.
“Yeah, it’s been nice,” he said. “Obviously I’ve been a little bit by the injury bug there the last little bit but it’s definitely nice to stay healthy and be here on a night-to-night basis and helping the team in whatever way I can.”