Blackhawks

Blackhawks' Jan Rutta embracing Chicago both on and off the ice

Blackhawks' Jan Rutta embracing Chicago both on and off the ice

Jan Rutta spent no time in America prior to Blackhawks training camp but he loves what he’s seen in Chicago thus far, from a walk along Michigan Avenue to seeing his favorite band, the Offspring, at a recent concert to taking in the Bears season opener last Sunday.

And he’s a big American football fan now — “Oh yeah,” he said. “Big time.”

Be it the city or training camp, they’ve both had the same impact on the Czech defenseman.

“The city’s quite big, that’s a difference,” said Rutta, who hails from Pisek, a small town about 90 minutes from Prague. “Here [at camp], it’s also bigger, everything is bigger and faster. But everyone’s been kind to me, so that helps a lot.”

Rutta’s transition to Chicago has been a relatively smooth one. It helps that he has a few fellow Czechs here at camp, including Michal Kempny and David Kampf. Kempny, who paired with Rutta at Sunday’s scrimmage and was a national teammate of his in the past, has been especially helpful. Language isn’t a problem, either, as Rutta already has a strong command of English. He credits that in part to former Chomutov Pirati teammate and close friend Brett Skinner, a Canadian defenseman who also spent some time with the Rockford IceHogs in 2013-14.

The on-ice adjustment hasn’t been so bad, either. As with anyone coming over from Europe, playing on the smaller ice surface is always a question. But Rutta said that’s not the big concern.

“I’d say it’s more about the players because they’re faster. You just have to make plays faster,” he said. “That’s the main thing.”

Coach Joel Quenneville said Rutta’s had a very steady presence in his first few days here.

“Sometimes you talk about defenseman a guy quietly goes about his business and you say he didn’t jump out at you. But I find those defensemen who are very predictable, safe and reliable, they’re getting the job done,” Quenneville said. “I like his size, the way he thinks the game, the way he moves. Getting acclimated to the smaller ice is a work in progress but he’ll only get better as we go along. It’s been a good camp for him.”

Where Rutta fits in on the Blackhawks roster — or if, right now — remains to be seen.

He’s enjoying his time in America, off and on the ice. Obviously he’d like to be part of the Blackhawks starting roster but whether he’s here or in Rockford, he’s ready to adjust his game on this side of the pond.

“I came here to give it a shot, to try my best and I’m not going to quit after a camp either way it goes,” Rutta said. “Hopefully I’ll be with the Blackhawks. I’ll just do my best.”

Blackhawks make minor league trade with Rangers

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USA TODAY

Blackhawks make minor league trade with Rangers

When the Blackhawks signed Darren Raddysh in 2017, it was because they didn't have many right-handed shot defensemen in the pipeline and he was an intriguing prospect coming off a season in which he was named the OHL's top blue liner.

But with Adam Boqvist, Henri Jokiharju and Ian Mitchell added to the mix over the last two NHL drafts, Raddysh was quickly jumped on the organizational depth chart. On Monday, the Blackhawks sent the 22-year-old prospect to the New York Rangers in exchange for forward Peter Holland, who will report to the Rockford IceHogs of the American Hockey League.

Raddysh, who was teammates with Alex DeBrincat and Dylan Strome with the Erie Otters, led all IceHogs defensemen with 26 points this season. With the Rangers expected to be sellers ahead of the Feb. 25 trade deadline, there's a chance he makes his NHL debut before the year ends depending on which defensemen they move.

Holland's cap hit is $675,000 and he's set to become an unrestricted free agent this summer. The 28-year-old has appeared in 266 games with four different teams, but has yet to appear in an NHL game this season. He can play all for forward positions. His best season came with the Toronto Maple Leafs in 2014-15 when he compiled 11 goals and 14 assists for 25 points in 62 games, and had a shooting percentage of 11.8.

Holland leads the Hartford Wold Pack with 20 goals, 29 assists and 49 points in 52 games this season, and served as an alternate captain. He's a good presence to have in Rockford, where the Blackhawks can use some veteran leadership up front for its young guys.

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Blackhawks Talk Podcast: Special guest Mike Tirico

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USA TODAY

Blackhawks Talk Podcast: Special guest Mike Tirico

On this episode of Hawks Talk Podcast, Pat Boyle talks with Mike Tirico, who is doing play-by-play for the Blackhawks-Red Wings game on Wednesday night.

0:45 - Mike Tirico on how he got the call to call hockey

1:30 - Tirico's preparation for his first NHL play-by-play broadcast

4:15 - Patrick Kane continue's to impress as a veteran

6:20 - Can Tirico fit more NHL into his busy schedule?

8:20 - Will Tirico get nervous for his first NHL broadcast?

Listen to the full episode in the embedded player below:

Blackhawks Talk Podcast

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