Jordin Tootoo ready for postseason opportunity with Blackhawks

Jordin Tootoo ready for postseason opportunity with Blackhawks

Jordin Tootoo was part of that Nashville Predators-Blackhawks series in 2010. Ask him what he remembers from those six games, and he gives a what-do-you-think smile.

"Marian Hossa taking a five-minute major, coming out of the penalty box and scoring the OT winner," Tootoo said with a laugh. "Basically sums it up."

Sure, that memory ranks high for many regardless of allegiance. But that series was also the start of a great, intense rivalry between the two teams, something that will resume on Thursday.

"Lot of emotions. Lot of battles, and that's what playoff hockey is all about. I think over the years, you create that energy and I think every guy wants to be a part of something special," he said. "I could remember when we tried to play the Blackhawks, it was going to be a battle. It's fun hockey."

Fast forward to the present day and for Tootoo, this series is about a few things. It's about facing his former team, with whom he started his career, went through some rough times and then started to get his life back together.

It's also about reality: at 34, Tootoo doesn't know how many more chances at a Stanley Cup he'll get. He wants to make the most of this one.

Tootoo will be part of the Blackhawks' fourth-line rotation when they open their first-round series against the Predators on Thursday night. He has been in and out of the lineup this season but has been good when he's played. His last game against the Predators, in which he scored his first goal with the Blackhawks, was one of his best of the season.

Coach Joel Quenneville said Tootoo has been a team-first guy all season.

"It's gotta be an exciting time for him. He has a great history there and certainly brought a lot to our team this year. He's been very well liked and accepted by his teammates, brings an element to our team you need at times and applied it at the perfect moments this year," Quenneville said. "He's worked hard as the season progressed and gives us an option to have that type of guy in our lineup. As we go along here, we'll see. But certainly put him in a position to start with us. You need that type of guy. He knows the role, job description and importance. We're looking forward for him to be a part of it."

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Tootoo has garnered teammates' respect, be it his work ethic – he's usually the first guy on the ice at practice – to his words. Tootoo gave a second-intermission pep talk prior to the Blackhawks scoring five third-period goals to beat the Colorado Avalanche, 6-3, on March 19. As far as being in the postseason lineup (at least for now), Tootoo is ready for the chance.

"At this point in my career, everything is a bonus here," Tootoo said. "But it's a business. For me, I try to use every day to get better both on and off the ice. It's a privilege to play this game and (this is) the best time of year – to be playing in the playoffs."

Nashville will always be a special part of Tootoo's life. He started his NHL career there, spent eight seasons there, began his now six years of sobriety there. Right now, however, the drive for the Stanley Cup looms larger. 
"I think personally, for me, you want to have a bit more bite, and I'm definitely going to have that," Tootoo said. "I played a lot of years in Nashville. I have great memories there. But I'm a Blackhawk now and I'm going to do whatever it takes."

NHL, NHLPA finalize protocols for Phases 3 and 4 of Return to Play plan

NHL, NHLPA finalize protocols for Phases 3 and 4 of Return to Play plan

The NHL and NHL Players' Association have reached a tentative agreement on the protocols and terms of Phases 3 (formal training camps) and 4 (Return to Play plan), according to TSN's Bob McKenzie. 

The two sides continue to work on a new Collective Bargaining Agreement, which means nothing is official until the NHLPA executive committee and NHL Board of Governors ratify the package. A full player membership vote will also take place and includes members from the seven non-playoff teams.

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If all goes as planned and the deal is approved, here are the most notable items to circle from the 40-page document:

  •  Any player that opts out of Phases 3 and 4 will not be penalized in any way, but they must notify their NHL teams in writing three days after the ratification vote is complete. 
  • There will be a limit of 30 skaters and an unlimited number of goalies in Phase 3, and only players eligible to play in the 2019-20 season resumption are permitted to skate. A maximum of 52 personnel members — a minimum of three coaches and maximum of 31 players — will be allowed to travel for Phase 4.
  • Each of the 24 NHL teams in Phases 3 and 4 must submit its list of participating players by Thursday. Formal training camps are expected to open on Monday, July 13.
  • Players must undergo a pre-participate medical exam, and if both the doctor administering the exam and the team's infectious disease expert determine that a player is at "substantial risk of developing a serious illness," the player will be deemed unfit to play. The player will, however, be allowed to seek a second opinion.
  • If a player who tests positive for COVID-19 or develops symptoms in either Phase 3 or 4, the team is not permitted to share that information with the media or public, absent prior approval from the NHL, in consultation with the NHLPA.
  • If an individual leaves the bubble environment in the two respective hub cities without permission, the individual may be subject to consequences up to and including removal. In addition, violations could result in significant financial penalties for the club and/or loss of draft choices, according to Sportsnet's Elliotte Friedman.
  • Players' families will be allowed to join the players for the Conference Finals and Stanley Cup Final, which will be hosted by Edmonton. 

Report: Blackhawks defenseman Brent Seabrook aiming to return for NHL playoffs

Report: Blackhawks defenseman Brent Seabrook aiming to return for NHL playoffs

A source told Scott Powers of The Athletic that Blackhawks defenseman Brent Seabrook will try to play if the season continues and the NHL sees its 24-team playoff format kick off.

"Just a month ago, the Blackhawks didn’t think Seabrook would be far enough in his rehab to be considered an option, but he’s made strides and has expressed his desire to try to play again this season," Powers writes.

The three-time Stanley Cup champ Hawks blueliner had surgeries on his right shoulder in December, left hip in January and right hip February.

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The NHL is targeting July 13 for the start of team training camps and August 1 for the start of the postseason tournament, which has the Blackhawks taking on the Edmonton Oilers in a best-of-5 play-in series.

Related: Calvin de Haan takes next step in recovery process, joins Blackhawks for Phase 2

The two hub cities for the playoffs are reportedly Edmonton and Toronto.

Powers also mentioned that Seabrook hasn't been cleared for contact yet but that he has been skating. He last played December 15 in a 5-3 win over the Minnesota Wild