Erik Gustafsson will play, as will Marian Hossa, when the Blackhawks host the Montreal Canadiens tonight at the United Center.
As for Bryan Bickell, he cleared waivers and has been reassigned to the Rockford IceHogs. It’s the second time Bickell has been sent to the Blackhawks’ minor-league affiliate in an attempt to spark his game. Bickell hasn’t played here since Jan. 8.
Coach Joel Quenneville added that the Blackhawks’ cap situation and number of players they had up here were also factors. But, Quenneville added, “the bottom line is it comes down to performance.”
“Every player has his own situation you have to look at. He had a tough start to the beginning of the year where he went down for a while, getting back up here and getting re-established. Then all of a sudden it slowed down again and here you are again down,” Quenneville said. “It’s a tough situation. You have to take what you can do and do everything you can to play as well as you can to help yourself. Everybody’s career paths are different. It’s a very competitive business we’re in; everybody wants to be here.”
Teammates were disappointed to see Bickell going through this again.
“It is tough. You’ve got to look at it is a business, though. Stuff like that does happen,” Andrew Shaw said. “Look at the positive, too: he is going to go down there and play. He’s going to get his ice time. It’s tough to get better if you’re not playing. He’s going to go down there and get back to enjoying the game and getting his head clear.”
[SHOP: Gear up, Blackhawks fans!]
Jonathan Toews said, “Bicks has been part of this group for a long time. Decisions like that are out of our control as players. But when he’s here we try to do our best to make him feel a part of the team, and he can excel as best he can. At times he did play good hockey this year. It’s tough. It hurts your confidence. When you have a lot of success, lot of opportunity over the number of years and all of a sudden it’s taken away from you it’s a tough thing to overcome and battle through. He’s being professional and doing his best to do that.”
As for Gustafsson, the defenseman said he tweaked his right knee when he was hit into the boards in Tuesday’s game against Colorado. He tried to give it a go at Thursday’s morning skate in Montreal but it it didn’t work. Gustafsson said he feels much better now.
Corey Crawford gets the start tonight.