It didn’t take Andrew Desjardins long to mesh with the Blackhawks. The trade-deadline acquisition reached a great comfort level with the team immediately and found his niche on the Blackhawks’ fourth line.
And those are big reasons why Desjardins chose to return for two more years.
Desjardins signed a two-year extension on Friday morning; Elliotte Friedman of Hockey Night in Canada reported the deal carried a cap hit of $800,000 per season. The forward garnered interest from other teams but for Desjardins, the chance to stay with Chicago wasn’t worth passing up.
“Obviously the key thing is we loved it there, our entire family,” said Desjardins via conference call. “It came down to just that, you know? How much we enjoyed the city, how much we enjoyed the organization. It was a great experience and that kind of made it an easy decision for us.”
General manager Stan Bowman said on June 19 that he wanted to get Desjardins back, if possible.
“It was a nice surprise how Desjardins came in and played a huge role for us. He played a bigger role than we probably expected,” Bowman said. “You look at the minutes he gave us down the stretch, it’s maybe something you couldn’t have predicted.”
Desjardins came to the Blackhawks from the San Jose Sharks, in exchange for Ben Smith, on March 2. The move was met with little notice; more attention went to the Blackhawks’ acquiring Antoine Vermette the previous weekend. But Desjardins proved a great piece to the Blackhawks’ puzzle, and it didn’t take him long to fit into the team’s system.
“I would say about 7-10 games into playing I started to feel more comfortable. It felt like it was a pretty quick transition,” Desjardins said. “The guys were great as far as how welcoming they were and the trust happened pretty quick with the coaching, so it was a pretty easy transition.”
Coach Joel Quenneville found the right fourth-line combination when he put Desjardins with Marcus Kruger and Andrew Shaw. When Quenneville trusts a group he gives it more responsibility, and he did that with this trio (see Game 6 against Anaheim, when those three were on the ice in the waning moments of a must-win game). The three found chemistry quickly.
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“It’s still one of those things you never really know why it worked so well,” Desjardins said. “[It’s] just being on the same page. I think we all understood what we had to do out there and I think we pushed each other to do the right things. We always had each other’s backs, not in the physical sense but in the game. We always supported each other really well. It’s hard to say sometimes what creates that chemistry but [it’s] just doing the right things and we were all on the same page.”
The Blackhawks still have a lot of work to do this offseason, especially when it comes to shedding salary. But they’ve made some solid additions; Desjardins is the latest.
“It was huge to win and obviously that helped the decision [to return to Chicago.] But again, it’s… how much we loved it in Chicago, loved the guys in the room, really enjoyed the coaching stuff and everything about the organization,” Desjardins said. “That was the biggest factor.”