Blackhawks

Blackhawks prospect Jack Ramsey making transition from forward to defense: ‘Everything is new’

Blackhawks prospect Jack Ramsey making transition from forward to defense: ‘Everything is new’

TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. — Jack Ramsey has been a forward ever since he picked up a hockey stick for the first time. But after 17 years, he’s making the transition to defense and he's doing so while making the jump to the pros.

"Honestly I wasn't that surprised,” Ramsey said, in an interview with NBC Sports Chicago, when asked what his reaction was when the team approached him about making the change. “It was brought up throughout college about possibly doing it but we had a pretty good D core throughout my college years so that never happened. I always thought it was a possibility so I wasn't completely shocked when it happened."

Originally drafted by the Blackhawks in the seventh round (No. 208 overall) in 2014, Ramsey spent the past four years at the University of Minnesota. He appeared in 143 total games and scored only eight goals.

Ramsey was always viewed as a defensive-minded winger and is one of the guys you throw out there when trying to protect a lead or kill a penalty. So being reliable in his own end is already part of his DNA.

“Obviously I wasn't a prolific scorer in college,” Ramsey said with a smile. “I'm tall, lengthy, long stick. I think the tangibles are there to be a good defenseman. All the basics are there and now it's just incorporating everything else, all these little things to get better at the position."

Ramsey is built like a shutdown defenseman. He's 6-foot-3, 185 pounds and plays big, too. The Blackhawks felt like his defensive instincts made him a more natural fit to play on defense and, if it translates in a way they're hoping, it could help prolong his career in the pros.

"He's a big, strong, athletic, smart kid," Blackhawks director of player development Mark Eaton said of Ramsey, who signed a one-year AHL contract in May with the Rockford IceHogs. "When the time came to make the decision to bring him into the organization it was probably a much tougher path for him to go the forward ranks. I know Indianapolis [Blackhawks' ECHL affiliate] at the time needed defensemen and he agreed to the switch and finished the year well in Indianapolis.

"He's starting to identify as a defenseman now and embrace the change and looking at his game [Friday] he has a lot of good qualities: the smarts, he can play within himself and just be an effective defender."

But the transition obviously has its challenges. While the sport hasn't changed, Ramsey's place on the ice has.

"Just seeing the game from a whole different spot,” he said. “In the offensive zone you're always in the corner grinding and trying to work it down low, and now all of a sudden you're at the point, you're seeing something completely different. In the D zone I was a winger so you know I'm up top, now I'm in the corners in the D zone. Whole new perspective, taking rushes and everything like that so everything is new. This is a great weekend to take everything in." 

Despite part of the reasoning for the switch being that the Blackhawks felt like there was a better path for Ramsey to move up the ranks in the organization as a defenseman than a forward, Ramsey is committed to his new position for the long haul.

"I'm a defensive-minded forward,” Ramsey said. “I've always been like that, always been proud of penalty killing abilities and stuff like that, so I think it's for sure long term and I'm excited for it. I talked to my family and friends back home and they asked me how I like it and what not and I said, 'You play hockey for 17 years at one position, you think you know everything about the position then you get a switch and I'm 23 years old and I'm learning all these new things about hockey so it's pretty cool.'"

Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Blackhawks easily on your device.

Blackhawks receive Joseph Cramarossa from the Penguins in minor league trade

joseph-cramarossa.jpg
USA Today

Blackhawks receive Joseph Cramarossa from the Penguins in minor league trade

The Blackhawks have acquired forward Joseph Cramarossa from the Pittsburgh Penguins for forward Graham Knott in a minor league trade. Cramarossa will report to the Rockford IceHogs of the American Hockey League.

The 27-year-old had three points (two goals, one assist) in nine games with Wilkes-Barre/Scranton this AHL season. Cramarossa was the alternate captain during the 2018-19 in Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, playing 56 regular-season games, scoring four goals.

Cramarossa was initially drafted by the Anaheim Ducks in the third round of the 2011 NHL Draft, making his NHL debut on the Ducks in 2016. He played with the Ducks until he was traded to the Vancouver in 2017, playing in 10 games for the Canucks. He signed with Calgary as a free agent in September 2017 before being acquired by the Penguins in February 2018. Throughout seven seasons in the AHL (2013-2019) playing for the Norfolk Admirals, San Diego Gulls, Stockton and Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, Cramarossa recorded 72 points (32G, 40A) in 294 regular-season games.

Graham Knott is a 22-year-old forward selected by the Blackhawks in the second round of the 2015 NHL draft. Knott had eight goals in 126 career games with the IceHogs. The Blackhawks have now traded their top draft selections from 2017, 2015, 2014, 2013, 2012, 2011 and 2009. Only Dach (2019), Boqvist (2018) and DeBrincat (2016) remain from this decade.

Attention Dish and Sling customers! You have lost your Blackhawks games on NBC Sports Chicago. To switch providers, visit mysportschicago.com.

Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Blackhawks easily on your device.

Patrick Kane unhappy about Sebastian Aho cross-check: 'I just don't like that play'

kane_aho_hit.jpg
NBC Sports Chicago

Patrick Kane unhappy about Sebastian Aho cross-check: 'I just don't like that play'

Patrick Kane is as durable an athlete as they come. 

Since the start of the 2015-16 season, he’s missed only one game and it was because of an illness on Oct. 31, 2018 vs. Calgary, which ended a 258-game Iron Man streak.

The only time he’s missed significant action in his NHL career came during the 2014-15 campaign when he broke his collarbone and was sidelined for the final 21 games of the regular season.

Tuesday ignited some flashbacks for the former Hart Trophy winner.

With under a minute to play in regulation and the Blackhawks trailing by one, Kane went to retrieve the puck along the boards in the offensive zone and was cross-checked from behind by Sebastian Aho. Kane took a heavy, scary spill into the boards and it looked very similar to the hit Florida Panthers defenseman Alex Petrovic laid on him on Feb. 24, 2015 that ended his MVP-type regular season.

"I just don't like that play," Kane said after practice on Wednesday. "I'm pretty sensitive to that play because that's kind of how I broke my collarbone four or five years ago. I just don't like that play where you're going in, your back's turned, you get the cross-check in the back when you're unsuspecting and the puck's not there, so I think that's where the frustration came from."

There was no penalty called and Kane threw his hands up in disbelief. The unfortunate part about the play is Aho probably gets a penalty if Kane stays down on the ice, but Kane’s instincts kicked in and he quickly got back up to try keeping the puck in the zone.

Frustrating boiled over after Aho scored the empty-netter with 17.6 seconds left to ice the game. Kane skated over to Aho and gave him a cross-check of his own, which resulted in a 10-minute misconduct. 

"When I got hit like that I was just trying to keep the play alive because I thought they would for sure call it, to be honest with you,” Kane said. “But there's plays throughout the game that don't get called and that's just the way it is. That one's probably more magnified because of the situation and how much time was left."

Attention Dish and Sling customers! You have lost your Blackhawks games on NBC Sports Chicago. To switch providers, visit mysportschicago.com.

Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Blackhawks easily on your device.