Alexandre Fortin

Blackhawks' Alexandre Fortin finding form again after offseason surgery

Blackhawks' Alexandre Fortin finding form again after offseason surgery

Alexandre Fortin was grateful to be back on the ice this weekend, back in Chicago where he wowed the Blackhawks last fall and nearly found a spot on the regular-season roster.

His thoughts are on repeating that camp performance. What he has to keep his mind clear of, however, is the sports hernia and surgery that sidelined him for part of the summer.

“It’s normal. You don’t want to get hurt again,” he said. “When you’re starting in camp like that, everyone’s good so you just have to get to a high level quick. At the same time, you just have to [listen to] your body and do things right.”

When Fortin has been on the ice, however, he’s been impressive. Following Sunday’s outing coach Joel Quenneville talked of the young forward showing the abilities that made him such a pleasant camp surprise in 2016.

“He’s coming off that injury, missed a day and change but [Sunday] all of a sudden he had his legs, his stride back,” Quenneville said. “He’s a fast player who can back off defensemen and this year, this camp, at least we got him out there and captured that speed. He can be useful.”

Fortin had sports hernia surgery in late June; he was present at the Blackhawks’ prospect camp in July but, because of the recent surgery, was limited to off-ice workouts. He was back on ice at the team’s prospect tournament in Traverse City, Mich., where the Blackhawks claimed the tournament title. That helped Fortin feel more comfortable again as he returned for his second Blackhawks camp, but he’ll keep an eye on things to make sure he doesn’t re-aggravate his hernia.

“I’m in good hands here and they know what to do with me,” I just do what they ask me. Camp is long, so we’ll just keep improving every day.”

The good thing is the Blackhawks are again happy with what Fortin is doing, even in his limited work at camp. The problem is there probably won’t be room for him, at least in the early going. The Blackhawks’ depth signings in early July mean a lot of one-way contracts, and other young guys – Alex DeBrincat and John Hayden among them – are also vying for a roster spot.

Fortin will mind his injury but still wants to go through this camp the same way he did the last one, playing his strongest game and looking for an opportunity. Whether it happens now or later, he’s happy to get it.

“I mean, camp is long so you have to focus on what you can see,” Fortin said. “Like [general manager] Stan Bowman and Joel said at the beginning of camp, everybody’s here to make the team and just try to find a way to do that. That’s my plan and I’ll do what I can do and see after.”


As they usually do, the Blackhawks will send most of their young players to their first preseason game on Tuesday night in Columbus.  Asked if he would send the Alex DeBrincat-Nick Schmaltz-Patrick Kane combo that has been together the last few days at camp, Quenneville said, “maybe one of those three will go.”

The Blackhawks will start cutting their training camp roster either Wednesday or Thursday.

Can prospect Alexandre Fortin force his way onto Blackhawks roster this fall?

Can prospect Alexandre Fortin force his way onto Blackhawks roster this fall?

When Alexandre Fortin went to Blackhawks training camp last season he picked up where he left off in development camp, impressing brass and earning a three-year, entry-level contract. He was still only 19, though, so despite an outstanding camp he went back to the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League.

He hopes to have the same performance this fall and see where it takes him. As the Blackhawks roster stands right now, however, there may not be any room for him on the big club.

Fortin had sports hernia surgery three weeks ago, so he’s only participating in off-ice workouts at this week’s development camp. But he said he’ll be ready for training camp in September, and he hopes some added weight and strength help him be as good, or better than he was last September.

“I worked a lot this year to improve what I had to improve,” said Fortin, who believes he is NHL ready. “I think we had some problems during the season and I got injured. But I just have to stay focused and know I have to work hard. I’m excited for September.”

Last year Fortin didn’t return to his junior team until October. Part of that was a statement on how well Fortin played. The Blackhawks were also trying to figure out their lineup and there was a real chance of him staying – even if it was for a nine-game look so as not to burn the first year of his entry-level deal. With the Blackhawks signing several forwards on July 1, that opening may not be there this season, at least at the start.

Still, be it with the Blackhawks or the Rockford IceHogs, Fortin is ready to take the next step. He’s gained 20 pounds – “my mom said it’s natural, but I did it,” he said. Adding size is good but Fortin doesn’t want to lose the speed that was so evident last fall. Fortin said it hasn’t hampered his speed thus far.

“A little bit faster, a little bit faster,” he said. “With my surgery, I’ll be ready and I’ll be like, if I can say 100 percent. You know it’s when you play with injuries it’s always a bit harder and more pressure on yourself. But I’m pretty happy that it will now be good and I will be 100 percent on my hockey.”

Fortin made a great first impression on the Blackhawks last season. Whether there’s a chance for him to make the roster in October or later down the line, he’d like to make the same impression this fall.

“[Expectations are the] same as last year,” he said. “I’ll just try to do my best and be ready to play as well as I can to hopefully help the team, and we’ll see after.”

Prospects giving Blackhawks plenty to think about

Prospects giving Blackhawks plenty to think about

There are certain phrases that have become part of the Blackhawks’ vernacular. Coach Joel Quenneville has uttered one several times in the short time he’s been back in Chicago.

“We like tough decisions,” Quenneville said on Tuesday night.

If that’s the case, the Blackhawks have got to be loving their current situation.

Be it Alexandre Fortin, Gustav Forsling or Vinnie Hinostroza, among others, the Blackhawks are seeing some impressive performances from their prospects. That’s good, considering the vacancies, especially on the forward lines, the Blackhawks need to fill. The good impressions continued on Tuesday night, when those three, as well as Nick Schmaltz and Ryan Hartman had great outings in the team’s 6-1 victory over the Detroit Red Wings.

“We could talk about all of our young guys tonight,” Quenneville said following the game, “and it was positive in every facet.”

Hinostroza, who was moved back to the wing — he said he felt better there than at center — got his first goal of the preseason. His speed has been noticeable throughout. Schmaltz, back at center after playing some wing, tipped in his first goal. Hartman provided the net-front presence. Fortin lined up with Patrick Kane and Artem Anisimov and didn’t get rattled. Forsling was strong again and making some slick passes.

Yes, the situation isn’t so bad, really.


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“I would say it’s definitely deeper,” Quenneville said of this group of young players. “Definitely the type of ingredients that we’re looking for for our team, the addition of speed and depth and skill. To me, that’s the way the game is progressing, so I think it can be healthy and not just [for] these guys coming into our lineup. They’re going to be in some really important spots for us. So that could be a good sign.”

As previously written, some of the Blackhawks’ roster decisions also come down to contracts and playing time as much as preseason performances. There’s no doubt Fortin and Forsling have done some tremendous work this fall. They’ve turned heads, and they’ve turned the right heads. Do the Blackhawks see enough in Fortin to keep him here and burn the first season of his entry-level contract? Is there a place for Forsling among a defensive group that’s a lot deeper this season than it was the last? And if Forsling stays, you would think the Blackhawks would want to give him enough playing time to justify his staying here. As Quenneville always says about prospects, the team wants to keep them playing.

It sounds like some of these young hopefuls will get one more look on Saturday in the Blackhawks’ preseason finale against St. Louis. Decisions, decisions. The Blackhawks love when they have to make the tough ones. They’ve got to be enjoying their situation immensely right now.

“Nothing got sorted out [Tuesday]. [They] made it real difficult on us. It’s real positive organizationally,” Quenneville said. “These young guys, we need some of them. How many we need will be determined going forward, because they all enhanced their chances.”