Blackhawks: Dennis Rasmussen’s focus remains on what he can control


Blackhawks: Dennis Rasmussen’s focus remains on what he can control

Dennis Rasmussen’s attitude and approach never changed.

When the Blackhawks recalled the Swedish forward in early December, Rasmussen took it for what it was: an opportunity. He didn’t know how long it would last, so he played like his time with the Blackhawks could end as quickly as it began.

“I’ve felt like that my whole life, though. It’s not that I’m being called up right now and I feel like that. When I played in Sweden, when I was younger, too, it was about taking it day by day. I never look two games ahead,” Rasmussen said. “But of course in the beginning, you’re feeling that even more.”

Three months later, Rasmussen is still here. He’s been a reliable fourth-line center for the Blackhawks, strong defensively and adding a few points (four goals, four assist). And while Rasmussen knows he could be out of the lineup as injured Blackhawks return, he’s focused on the present, not the potential future.

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“It’s been a fun ride, I’ve learned a lot,” he said. “You get more comfortable, even if you feel the pressure to be good every day and I don’t take anything for granted. I just want to be good every practice, every game.”

Rasmussen has filled a big void for the Blackhawks these last few months. While he’s played with several players in his time here, Rasmussen has been the one constant on that line. Coach Joel Quenneville said the 25-year-old has done well.

“I know it’s a big jump from the American league to this level. He came in and gave us some size in the middle, predictability as well, and defensively he was solid,” Quenneville said. “That line scored some goals as we progressed. We started seeing more scoring on all four lines and his line was doing what we would hope they’d do: be defensively reliable and score some goals, and he was part of that.” 

Rasmussen played 73 games with the Rockford IceHogs last season. Prior to that he played three seasons with the Växjö Lakers of the Swedish Hockey League. Rasmussen said the Lakers play the same style of hockey the Blackhawks do, so his time there was valuable. He also learned from time on nation teams; Sweden won bronze at the 2010 World Juniors and at the 2014 IIHF World Championships.

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“I had three years in the top league there, played pro, played a lot of minutes, power play, penalty kill and stuff like that. But I also think the national team prepared me a lot,” he said. “I played some international games and a championship. That really helped, too.”

Rasmussen knows the business side of this. He knows he may not be in the lineup much longer, especially when Marcus Kruger returns. Rasmussen will worry about that then. Right now, he has his next game for which to prepare.

“It’s a boring answer, but I do take it day by day. We have a game and that’s the only thing I’m focusing on,” Rasmussen said with a smile. “That’s all I can do: play well on the ice.”

Brian Campbell on Adam Boqvist's progression and preaching patience in his development

Brian Campbell on Adam Boqvist's progression and preaching patience in his development

The breakout star of Blackhawks development camp in July was undoubtedly Adam Boqvist, who was taken No. 8 overall in 2018. It was evident how much his game has grown over the past year.

Former Blackhawks defenseman — and now player development coach — Brian Campbell worked closely with Boqvist this past season and raved about the steps he took with the London Knights in the OHL. But Campbell is also preaching patience in Boqvist's development. Boqvist just turned 19 on Thursday, and it's important to let him develop at his own pace.

“Yeah, I was impressed," Campbell said in an interview with NBC Sports Chicago. "Obviously, he’s come a long way in a year from last development camp. There’s no pressure being put on him. He’ll develop at his time. If he pushes for a spot, great, but I just don’t want people to get away. There’s a lot to keep learning and he wants to learn, which is the greatest thing. His teammates love him: great thing. He wants to do extra and learn the game: great thing. He is preparing himself days before, even in development camp, he’s preparing himself days before. So all great things and he’s on the right path.

"Hopefully that happens and maybe it does happen but if it doesn’t then that’s not the case and he keeps getting better and wants to keep getting better. Definitely, we know his skill level is there and I think he’s taken a huge step in the last year in preparing himself and knowing how to prepare as a pro player now. There’s a lot of great things there, and hopefully he does do that, but for me, I just don’t want to put too much on him right now. He’s turning 19 soon so he’s still a really young kid and it’s a tough position to play at a pro level. Believe me, I’m smiling, but I just don’t want to force the issue too much. Hopefully he can do some great things, but if he doesn’t, then that’s OK too.” 

Drake Caggiula looks back on how he could've played with Alex DeBrincat, Dylan Strome in OHL

Drake Caggiula looks back on how he could've played with Alex DeBrincat, Dylan Strome in OHL

Drake Caggiula had a successful college hockey career. He compiled 127 points (62 goals, 65 assists) in 162 career games across four seasons at North Dakota, and served as an alternate captain during his senior year.

But before committing to college, Caggiula was being recruited by the Erie Otters of the OHL and there could've been a moment where he played with Connor McDavid and current teammates Alex DeBrincat and Dylan Strome all at the same time.

“I remember telling Sherry Bassin, the GM of Erie, how I was going to go to college," Caggiula said in an interview with NBC Sports Chicago. "He kept reiterating that, 'at 16 years old, we’re not going to be that great. But at 17, we’re going to be a little bit better, but not great. But at 18 and 19, those are going to be your big years and we’re going to have a really good team and we’re going to surround you with good players.’ I mean, that’s two years in the future so it’s hard to really see that.

"Looking back at it now, the players that I could have played with, they had some pretty talented players go through Erie. Even Dylan Larkin was an Erie draft pick and ended up going to Michigan. It could have been a pretty talented team there so it’s kind of funny to see how it all works out. We’re all here today coming from different paths so it’s pretty cool.”

Any chirps from the guys about his decision now?

“Yeah, Connor [McDavid] used to make fun of me all the time, you know? ‘Oh, we would have won the Memorial Cup if you would have joined the team!’ and all that sort of stuff," Caggiula joked. "We talk about it a little bit just here and there saying, ‘what a team we could have had and imagine who we would have been playing with and now we’re all here together. What if we all would have started in Erie together and now we’re here together?’ It just would have been a pretty cool story. It’s obviously something that we can’t control but it’s definitely something that you can look back at and laugh at.”

Check out the interview in the video above.

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