Marko Dano got a big smile on his face when talking about his linemates. The new kid in town drew Marian Hossa and Jonathan Toews.
“I was thinking this is going to be fun,” Dano said with a laugh. “They’re great players and there’s a lot I can learn from them, so I’m real excited about being on a line with them.”
It was a pretty nice start for Dano, whose weekend included three goals in one scrimmage.
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As one of the players acquired from Columbus for Brandon Saad, it’s fitting that, at least for now, Dano is taking Saad’s place on the top line. As coach Joel Quenneville quipped, “that’s the lottery spot when you get to play on that line.” Dano’s usually a right wing but he doesn’t mind playing on the left, and Quenneville said Dano’s skills are evident.
“Watching him in practice prior to getting on the ice I noticed his quickness, I know he had a little pace to him,” Quenneville said. “He’s definitely got some size. He doesn’t look like he’s that big but he’s powerful. He may be low in stature but he’s thick and he’s big and he’s got some strength in the puck area.”
For Dano, the chance to learn from Toews and Hossa, especially Hossa – Dano’s father played with Hossa many years ago, and the two live in the same city in Slovakia – is gratifying. Nevertheless, there is a daunting quality joining two of the best players in the league.
“It’s a little bit hard from the beginning, but with every practice, with every scrimmage it’s coming easier,” Dano said on Saturday. “We started today like yesterday [we] were a little bit struggling with looking at each other on the ice. We were trying to find ourselves. But today we saw each other a little bit better and we had a couple points out there.”
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So this combination could work?
“I don’t see why not,” Toews said. “He’s a good young player, big and strong, and he has a good shot. Obviously there’s a lot of potential there. You make sure he’s comfortable so he doesn’t have to think too much. I can imagine what it’s like to come in and play with a couple of top-line guys. My mentality, if I were in that position, would be to think about getting the two players the puck all the time; got to reassure him to just keep thinking about making the right play and if he does that, he’ll be fine. Combinations can change, but it’s exciting to see what can happen in that regard.”
Dano got off to a great start, getting a chance on the top line and getting a few goals. Sure, those goals were early training camp goals. But for a player trying to adjust to a new team, systems and linemates, you take every positive.
“With every goal that we score on the ice, it doesn’t matter if it’s a scrimmage or preseason game, the confidence is going higher and also the chemistry,” Dano said. “It’s a good thing we can score goals from the beginning of the season and [we’ve] just got to work hard and keep going.”