Blackhawks

All grown up: Leddy found his niche

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All grown up: Leddy found his niche

Nick Leddy has had to grow up in a hurry. On the ice, anyway.

Just 19 when he made the Blackhawks team last fall, Leddy did a solid job. And coming into this season, with the losses of puck movers Brian Campbell and Chris Campoli, Leddy was expected to pick up a good deal of that slack.

So far hes doing just fine with the new responsibilities.

Leddy has been effective as a puck-moving defenseman and has found his niche as Duncan Keiths partner. He picked up two more assists in the Blackhawks 5-2 victory over Columbus on Saturday night, giving him six points in 10 games this season. Thats one point shy of what he had in 46 games last season.

I like the way he comes up the ice with his speed, in the zone, coach Joel Quenneville said on Saturday night. He made a great poke-check to sustain the play (on Viktor Stalbergs first goal). He has good patience. Hes just one of those players who should keep getting better as he keeps going.

But whether it was last season when he was thrust onto a depth-depleted defensive core or this season with bigger responsibilities, Leddys mindset hasnt changed.

The coaching staff told me to just play my game, he said. So thats what I tried to focus on.

Pairing with Keith helps the progression, too. The duo played together a little at the end of last year, and when Keith talks, Leddy listens.

If Im not doing something he likes or that I can work on, hell let me know, Leddy said. Having him as my partner has helped me learn the little things.

Keith said Leddys adapted to the changes and greater responsibilities well.

I think its just a matter of him getting his feet wet last year and he feels more comfortable last year, Keith said. You can tell with his skating ability. He can do a lot of things out there. Plays the right side, which as a lefty isnt always the easiest side to play. He plays it well and he has a lot of confidence over there, too.

Leddys already had to learn a lot in his young pro career. Hes handling it all well and the Blackhawks are benefiting from it.

You see his speed and physically hes so much more mature than last year, Jonathan Toews said. Confidence-wise hes not afraid to play his own game out there. Hes not worried about Duncs, hes not worried about getting the pucks to anybody. Hes just skating and making plays as he sees fit.

Recently retired Kris Versteeg to be honored before Blackhawks game

Recently retired Kris Versteeg to be honored before Blackhawks game

Kris Versteeg recently retired and now the Blackhawks are honoring him with the team’s “One More Shift.”

Versteeg began the season with the Blackhawks’ AHL affiliate, the Rockford IceHogs, but retired in November after playing six games for the IceHogs this season.

The 33-year-old wrote an emotional letter to the Blackhawks organization after requesting his contract with Rockford be terminated.

Versteeg will be honored before Sunday’s game against the Minnesota Wild. He will join the team on the ice for the national anthem and highlights of his career will be featured in the United Center.

Versteeg won two Stanley Cups with the Blackhawks, in 2010 and 2015. He is part of the Blackhawks celebrating the 10-year anniversary of that 2010 Cup win. Brian Campbell was given the same treatment on Nov. 21.

The first 10,000 fans into the UC can get replicas of the 2010 ring.

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Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane visit recovering Chicagoland hockey player for the holidays

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USA Today

Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane visit recovering Chicagoland hockey player for the holidays

Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane recently surprised recovering hockey player Payton Bruns in the hospital, spreading some cheer across Chicagoland this holiday season. The players spent time with Bruns and his family talking hockey and his recovery.

“I had no clue that they were coming,” Bruns told the camera.

Bruns cited Kane as one of his favorite players, making this moment even sweeter.

You can watch the heartwarming video here.

Bruns, a senior at Lincoln-Way East High School in Frankfort, broke two of his vertebrae sliding into the boards while chasing down a loose puck this past September. He was rushed to the hospital for emergency surgery and has since been recovering and doing physical therapy at the Shirley Ryan Ability Lab in Chicago.  

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