Blackhawks

Phillip Danault gets his chance again with Blackhawks

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Phillip Danault gets his chance again with Blackhawks

Phillip Danault got a taste of a Stanley Cup run last season with the Blackhawks.

The 22-year-old center was one of the Black Aces here through the postseason run. He saw what the Blackhawks did once again. He knew there would be roster changes with the salary-cap crunch. And he knew he had a great opportunity to make the lineup out of training camp.

But Danault’s plans were derailed in August, when he needed hip surgery four months to heal from it. But instead of letting that frustrate him, Danault used his time and attitude wisely. Now, with another teammate facing a four-month recovery, Danault is getting his chance.

Danault made a good impression on coach Joel Quenneville and the Blackhawks in two games last season, and he’s doing it again in his current stint. Danault was recalled last weekend after the Blackhawks lost Marcus Kruger to a dislocated wrist — Kruger’s surgery and recovery will keep him out until probably the postseason. So who better to call up than the guy the Blackhawks have been grooming as, perhaps, the next Kruger?

“You know, they’ve been telling me they want me to be Kruger the last two years in the AHL, so I kind of modeled my game on his,” said Danault, referring to the Rockford IceHogs. “He got hurt and I got lucky to be called up. I have a big opportunity here. I want to show everyone I can do it.”

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Ryan Garbutt said he noticed how much Danault was like Kruger immediately.

“It was a little bit eerie the way he plays so similar to Krugs. He does all the small things really well,” Garbutt said. “He’s good on face-offs, fast, really good with the stick and I think Q trusts him out there.”

Quenneville’s trust in Danault was evident on Tuesday night, when he put Danault and fourth-line mates Andrew Desjardins and Garbutt against the Stars’ top line of Jamie Benn, Tyler Seguin and Patrick Sharp through the first two periods. Danault and the line did its job, keeping all three off the score sheet through the first 40 minutes — Sharp had an assist at the time, but it was off a power-play goal. Quenneville was happy with that line’s work on Tuesday, and figured Danault, even with his setback, would be up here at some point.

“We feel, [with] him improving that he’d find a way to get here because we think the way he works, the way he competes, his mindset,” Quenneville said recently. “He gives you energy in your team game; production-wise, the expectations aren’t that high. But at the same time, playing the right way is what we think he can do. And kind of the way we have certain players in our lineup that can kill penalties and check and have the puck and be supportive in that area, so we projected him to keep on this path, that he’d find a way to get here.”

[SHOP BLACKHAWKS: Get your copy of the One Goal III book]

Danault had hoped to be here sooner. But after getting a deeper MRI on an issue that had been bothering him, results showed he had a torn labrum. On Aug. 17 he had surgery and spent the next several months recovering. It was a bitter pill to swallow at the time.

“It was very tough, especially because they just won the Cup and I was part of it as a Black Ace. I tasted a little bit of what it was and I really wanted to be an NHL player right away. But obviously one step back sometimes is good.” Danault said. “You go back, think about your game mentally and get stronger. Those little details get you stronger on and off the ice. I’m happy with my situation right now.”

[MORE: Blackhawks in good shape heading into Christmas break]

Danault waited a few years for a chance at the start of this season. Then he had to wait a few months more. It wasn’t always easy, but Danault is getting his chance now and he’s looking to make the most of it.

“When you start right away it’s good for your confidence and you’re happy and playing in the NHL is obviously the dream for you. But the last few years were very helpful for me,” Danault said. “I had to learn the system, how it works as a pro. Even just to cook by yourself or with the boys [in Rockford]. I think after those two years I’m more NHL ready.”

Capitals' Devante Smith-Pelly speaks out about 'racially charged chanting' at United Center

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AP

Capitals' Devante Smith-Pelly speaks out about 'racially charged chanting' at United Center

After being on the receiving end of some racist taunts while he was in the penalty box during Saturday's game against the Blackhawks, Capitals winger Devante Smith-Pelly spoke publicly about the incident.

Smith-Pelly, a 25-year-old Canadian, reacted to the fans while he was in the box, going up to them from the other side of the glass. He addressed questions from the media about the incident on Sunday.

"I just heard some chanting, some, I guess, racially charged chanting," Smith-Pelly said. "You can tell by my reaction that I got pretty upset.

"What was said this time around crossed the line."

The Capitals released a statement about the incident:

"The Washington Capitals are extremely disappointed by the intolerant behavior extended toward Devante Smith-Pelly by a select group of fans during Saturday night's game against the Chicago Blackhawks at United Center. The Capitals organization strives to be inclusive and has zero tolerance concerning any form of racism. Such behavior is unacceptable and has no place in hockey or society. As such, it is crucial to confront such appalling conduct, and the Capitals extend their appreciation to the Blackhawks organization and United Center security for swiftly removing the fans from the game."

The Blackhawks released a statement after the game with a similar tone.

Smith-Pelly said this has happened previously in his career.

"It's sad that in 2018 we're still talking about the same thing over and over," Smith-Pelly said. "It's sad that athletes like myself 30, 40 years ago were standing in the same spot saying the same thing. You'd think there'd be some sort of change or progression, but we're still working towards it I guess and we're going to keep working towards it."

The Capitals released the full interview.

Blackhawks release statement following incident that happened during game vs. Capitals

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AP

Blackhawks release statement following incident that happened during game vs. Capitals

Four fans at the United Center were thrown out of Saturday's Blackhawks game for taunting Washington Capitals forward Devante Smith-Pelly with racist remarks.

Midway through the third period, Smith-Pelly, who is black, was in the penalty box when fans shouted "basketball, basketball, basketball" at him, the Washington Post reported.

Here is a GIF of Smith-Pelly's interaction with the fans:

After the game, the Blackhawks released this statement:

Capitals head coach Barry Trotz also had this to say about the incident: