Marko Dano described his style of play after his first practice session on Sunday.
“I like to play a hard game and Marian Hossa plays kind of the (same) style of game as me. But he’s at a different level,” Dano said of his fellow Slovakian, with a smile. “So I’m trying to catch him with that.”
Hossa and Dano reside in the same city in Slovakia (Trencin), and an 18-year-old Hossa played hockey with Dano’s father, Jozef. Otherwise, Dano’s been watching the Blackhawks right wing from afar. So to know he’ll be playing on the same team as Hossa come this fall is a thrill for the young forward.
Dano, who the Blackhawks acquired in the seven-player deal that sent Brandon Saad to Columbus, is participating in prospect camp this week in Chicago. For Dano, it’s a chance to get acclimated to Chicago as well as the Blackhawks’ staff and players, some of which will be vying for jobs in the fall. But there’s no doubt he’s ready for the season and the chance to show the Blackhawks what he can do.
The trade came as a surprise to Dano, who comes here with Columbus teammate Artem Anisimov. The two played together some with the Blue Jackets, and just having that familiar face in the locker room should help the 20-year-old Dano.
“I'm a young guy so I'm glad there's a couple guys who I know, a couple guys who got traded with me. So I'm not starting from zero here,” Dano said. “[Anisimov] is a big guy, a responsible center, so it was fun playing with him.”
As much as the Blackhawks look for Anisimov to solve their second-line center issues, they’re just as thrilled to see what Dano can provide. He had a solid rookie season, recording eight goals and 13 assists in 35 games for the Blue Jackets. He’ll be another right wing for the club, although he’s fine with playing the left side, too.
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And for a young right wing who’s looking to hone his two-way game, there aren’t many better examples to follow than Hossa. Dano got a text from Hossa not long after Dano was traded here, and the two will get together for lunch soon.
“He’s a great player,” Dano said. “He’s played so many years here, so there are a lot of things I can learn from him.”
Dano has much to learn but he’s with a group that will teach him plenty. He was surprised when he was traded here last month. But to get a chance to improve his game, and to do it with Hossa and the Blackhawks, is going to be a treat for the young forward.
“It’s a great feeling for me to be a part of an organization that’s playing for a Cup [almost] every year,” Dano said. “Every player wants to win the Cup, and with this team there’s a bigger chance for me to raise the Cup above my head.”