The fact that Alexandre Fortin, who went from prospect camp invite to signed player, is still at Blackhawks training camp speaks volumes for how he’s impressed the team.
His line mates in Tuesday’s game confirmed it a little more.
Fortin started with Patrick Kane and Artem Anisimov when the Blackhawks beat the Detroit Red Wings 6-1 on Tuesday night. It was a good night for the forward, who scored a third-period goal and recorded an assist on Richard Panik’s power-play goal.
While he said Tuesday morning that he’d be fighting nerves playing with some of the Blackhawks’ best, Fortin didn’t look it come game time.
“I think that I was a little bit more calm. Kane and Anisimov talked to me before the game (to) just play my game and everything's going to be all right,” Fortin said after the game. “It's hard. It's a lot of pressure to play with two very good guys. It's stress, it's a lot of stress. But I just have to play my game and every shift that I'm doing, I'm just more comfortable and it's what I did tonight.”
Part of the Fortin promotion is coach Joel Quenneville still tinkering with lines, trying things out. But Fortin has been impressive in every situation in which he’s been thrown, and he earned a chance with Kane and Anisimov.
“You certainly like his speed, I think that’s the thing you notice right off the bat,” Quenneville said. “He’s got good patience and play recognition. He played with a couple of players who are definitely special in a lot of ways, so it was a different type of line he was with. He wasn’t too intimidated by their presence. So I commend him on handling that situation as well.”
What will the Blackhawks do with Fortin? He very well could start the season on the roster, but would it be for long. If Fortin played in more than nine games, the first year of his entry-level deal would be burned. The Blackhawks faced a similar situation with Brandon Saad at the start of the 2011-12 season. Saad played in the first two regular-season games before being sent back to the Saginaw Spirit; the Blackhawks recalled Saad for the playoffs that season.
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Then again, if Fortin’s current work translates into early regular-season games, the Blackhawks may be tempted to keep him longer. Regardless, there’s no doubt the Blackhawks like what they’ve seen in Fortin. The forward has talked about how much his life has changed in just these past few months. It’s all been good, and the future should be positive, too.
“Certainly to forecast down the road, it’s encouraging,” Quenneville said of Fortin. “Certainly we have some real tough decisions to make, and he’s one of the guys that’s making it interesting.”
- Referee TJ Luxmore was down briefly after taking a redirected puck off his leg. He finished the game.
- Corey Crawford is scheduled to play the Blackhawks’ entire preseason finale on Saturday against the St. Louis Blues.
- Quenneville said the Blackhawks could keep 23 players on the roster to start the regular season.