When Marko Dano first got to Blackhawks training camp last season, he was immediately thrown on the team’s top line, winning the “lottery,” as coach Joel Quenneville said at the time.
Well, Dano’s time there didn’t last long. Neither did his time with the Blackhawks, as they traded Dano to the Winnipeg Jets in the deal that brought Andrew Ladd back to them last spring. It was a brief stay for Dano, but he had nothing but good things to say about his time with Chicago. Still, it’ll be with some irony that, when Dano faces the Blackhawks tonight, it’ll be on the Jets’ top line.
“Not extra weight but maybe a little extra motivation to play against old teammates,” Dano said following the Jets’ skate on Tuesday morning. “I had a good time there. I didn’t play the type of game I was supposed to pay and that’s why I was in Rockford a long time. I enjoyed my time in Chicago and thankful for the opportunity I got.”
Dano, who was recalled from the Manitoba Moose on Oct. 28, is getting a big opportunity right now because of the Jets’ injury situation. It’s similar to how he emerged with the Columbus Blue Jackets two seasons ago and right now, he’s taking advantage of it in the same way. In the seven games he’s played with the Jets, Dano has three goals and an assist.
[SHOP: Get your Blackhawks gear here!]
He said he feels prepared to have a strong season.
“I had a good summer workout and we worked on some little things like quickness and just those first couple of steps to be faster. Now we’re working on that in practices, too,” Dano said. “I’m feeling good now. I just have to work hard and have some fun.”
Dano will see a few familiar faces tonight, including some of his former teammates in Rockford. Dano and Ryan Hartman were roommates while with the IceHogs. Dano got to see Hartman and Vinnie Hinostroza briefly when the Blackhawks got into Winnipeg on Monday – “we chatted for a little bit but nothing else. There’s no time, there are so many games now. It’s tough to catch up,” Dano said. Hartman said it’ll be good to see Dano again on the ice.
“We lived together. We got called up at the same time last year. We kind of stuck together all year,” Hartman said. “He’s a good player, he knows how to score, knows how to get to the scoring areas. It’ll be fun playing against him.”
Dano’s time in Chicago was short lived but he’s getting another opportunity with the Jets. And at the moment, that chance is coming on their top line.
“I’m just trying to play a simple game, be strong on the pucks in the corners, make something happen from the corners there,” Dano said. “Be consistent and bring the best game every night.”