Blackhawks

Andrew Shaw comparisons aside, Ryan Hartman succeeding with his own game

Andrew Shaw comparisons aside, Ryan Hartman succeeding with his own game

Vinnie Hinostroza remembers playing hockey against good friend and (now) teammate Ryan Hartman, starting when they were seven years old.

“He was one of the toughest kids in the area to play against,” Hinostroza said. “You never wanted to play against him, even when there wasn’t checking.”

So basically, Hartman has always played this energy-driven, sandpaper game. It just so happens that his game is a lot like former Blackhawks forward Andrew Shaw’s. So when Shaw was traded, the inevitable questions arose. Who was going to take Shaw’s place in the lineup? Who was going to bring Shaw’s agitation? Who was going to bring Shaw’s net-front presence? It was all about someone being “the next Shaw”.

While Hartman has replaced Shaw in some aspects, he is not, nor was he ever, trying to be Shaw. And so far this season Hartman’s been playing his game pretty well and creating his own identity with the Blackhawks.

So maybe it’s time for us to give Hartman credit for being a good player in his own right, and not a guy trying to be another guy.

“Andrew came into the league and built his own path and became the player he is by his own play and his own game,” Hartman said. “I’m just looking to do the same thing.”

Hartman has given a boost to the Blackhawks, and he’s currently on a line with Marian Hossa and Hinostroza. He was especially good on the Blackhawks’ Circus Trip, during which he had three goals in seven games including the game winner against Anaheim on Friday. He’s been agitating. He’s been aggressive. So far he’s also done all that while staying on the right side of the discipline line. In 19 games this season, Hartman has just two penalty minutes.

[SHOP: Gear up, Blackhawks fans!]

Hinostroza said Hartman’s succeeding with his own game.

“That’s always been his identity. He’s not trying to be someone else,” Hinostroza said. “So it’s important he sticks to that and people will really start seeing how he plays. Hopefully he can keep it up.”

Much like several other rookies, Hartman is taking advantage of an opportunity. Another offseason purge and another tight salary-cap situation opened the door for some of the Blackhawks’ prospects. Hartman is especially noticeable against the Blackhawks’ more physical opponents.

“I think he’s always had a little edge to his game that he needs to bring every shift,” coach Joel Quenneville said. “You notice him. He’s abrasive in the puck area, he goes to the hard areas, comes up with loose pucks and can make a play in tight areas, which is his game. Physicality — you look at our lineup, guys who can enhance our team physically in any way, we don’t mind that. He brings that element that we appreciate.”

He’s also brought offense, good for a team that needs more secondary scoring. So what’s been working for him?

“It’s a mix of a lot. Finding chemistry with line mates, with other players, a little bit of puck-luck too. Pucks have come onto my stick in good areas at times. We’ve been getting some wins, too, which helps,” Hartman said. “It’s a good thing I’ve been able to score. There’ve been a few posts and other chances, a couple of open nets I should’ve scored on, too. But hopefully I can continue helping out on the scoresheet.”

Hartman is here because the Blackhawks had players to replace, including Shaw. But he should be known for his own game, for his own contributions.

“I’m just coming along game by game,” Hartman said. “[I’m] playing the way I’ve always played and just trying to build a career from there.”

Blackhawks 'mutually agree to part ways' with assistant coach Don Granato

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USA TODAY

Blackhawks 'mutually agree to part ways' with assistant coach Don Granato

The Blackhawks announced Wednesday that they have mutually agreed to part ways with assistant coach Don Granato. He was hired on June 15, 2017 and spent two seasons with the team.

“We appreciate Don’s contributions to the Blackhawks organization while on the staff,” head coach Jeremy Colliton said in a statement. “We wish him well in the future as he pursues other opportunities.”

The move allows Colliton to handpick his second assistant coach with Sheldon Brookbank remaining on the staff. The responsibilities between Brookbank and Granato were shared this season, but that's likely to change going into next season to a more traditional structure of one assistant coach handling the forwards and power play and the other the defensemen and penalty kill.

One potential candidate to fill the vacant position could be Derek King, who was on Colliton's staff with the Rockford IceHogs and served as the interim head coach for the remainder of the season after Colliton got promoted to Chicago. King is viewed as a player's coach and is well-respected within the organization.

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Hawks Talk Podcast: Evaluating Blackhawks defensemen prospects with Mark Eaton

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AP

Hawks Talk Podcast: Evaluating Blackhawks defensemen prospects with Mark Eaton

On the latest edition of the Hawks Talk Podcast, Blackhawks director of player development Mark Eaton joins the show to evaluate the organization’s top defensemen prospects and where each of them is at in their developments. Which ones could make the NHL jump next season?

Pat Boyle and Charlie Roumeliotis offer their takeaways from the Eaton interview and outlook the Blackhawks blue line group as a whole.

1:00 – Eaton on Henri Jokiharju’s development

3:30 – Adam Boqvist’s growth in North America

6:50 – Evaluating Nicolas Beaudin’s progression

8:15 – Surprised about Ian Mitchell’s decision to return to college?

10:55 – Assessing Chad Krys in college and AHL

13:10 – Challenge between stressing defensive side of game but not taking away from who the player is

15:55 – Which defensemen prospects could be in NHL next season?

18:25 – The message Erik Gustafsson’s breakout season sends to prospects

21:15 – Takeaways from Eaton interview

31:25 – Reviewing Blackhawks defensemen contracts

33:35 – Thoughts on Gustav Forsling

35:20 – The challenge for Blackhawks defense this offseason

Listen to the entire podcast here or in the embedded player below.

Blackhawks Talk Podcast

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