Blackhawks

Marko Dano's approach benefits him with Blackhawks

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Marko Dano's approach benefits him with Blackhawks

Marko Dano wasn’t happy when he got the news: he was headed to the minors. He was frustrated he wasn’t getting his chance with the big club. He was, as he put it, “surprised and pissed off.”

But we’re not talking about Dano getting sent to the Rockford IceHogs at the start of this season. We’re talking about last season when, as a member of the Columbus Blue Jackets, he was sent to minor-league affiliate Springfield Falcons. Despite his youth and the likely need to get some minor-league work in, Dano didn’t take it well at the start.

But he eventually realized time in the minors last season was in his best interest; and when he started in Rockford this season, he knew it was to benefit his game, not hinder it.

Dano, who had the right attitude and a strong game with the IceHogs, was rewarded for both on Monday when the Blackhawks recalled him. He scored his first goal with the Blackhawks on Wednesday night, when he played with fellow Rockford linemates Tanner Kero and Ryan Hartman. Dano said no massive expectations were placed on him when he was recalled. He just has to do what worked for him in Rockford.

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“Just be strong on the puck, move my feet and those chances will come if I do the hard work. That’s the key: if you’re going hard to the net those rebounds are going to be there. I have to be in the right spot at the right moment,” Dano said. “Just keep working hard and maybe at some point they’ll come toward me.”

When Dano was reassigned to Rockford on Oct. 2, he understood the move. Dano remembered his not-so-accepting attitude when Columbus did the same thing last season – he said he “didn’t get it right away,” and it showed in his game. Then he changed his attitude; his game soon followed.

“I realized I’ve got to be positive, start doing good on the ice, make simple plays and get better in my game. And that helped me,” Dano said. “When I got better they saw that and they couldn’t keep me down in the minors. I got called up and stayed [with Columbus] for the rest of the season.”

Dano had a goal and six assists in nine games with Rockford. He also got to play in just about every situation.

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“I got a lot of minutes on the ice in Rockford,” Dano said. “I played power play, PK, so I got more comfortable. It was a good move from the staff.”

Coach Joel Quenneville said Dano’s positive approach isn’t always an easy one to take, but it does help a player’s game if he does.

“It's probably not a pleasant conversation for them, but it's an important point that they accept that. And the quicker that they accept it,it's going get them back here sooner,” Quenneville said. “He had a great start to the season down there and got himself back here as quick as possible. And you know, I think he can help us.”

There’s no guarantee Dano stays up the rest of the season. For young players, there’s always a schance of returning to the minors. But Dano’s not worried about that; he’ll bring the right attitude and game no matter where he is.

“I’ll just go out there, play my game and just have fun,” Dano said. “I’m not thinking about if I make a mistake I could possibly be sent down. I’m just trying to do my best here and we’ll see how it goes.”

Blackhawks make it official: Corey Crawford is back

Blackhawks make it official: Corey Crawford is back

He’s back.

Corey Crawford was officially activated from injured reserve on Thursday and will start in goal for the first time since Dec. 23, 2017 when the Blackhawks host the Arizona Coyotes.

"It’s exciting," coach Joel Quenneville said. "I’m sure he’s looking forward to it and we’re all excited about it as well. It’ll be a fun situation for the guys, seeing him back in the net as well. So we’re looking for everyone to be excited about tonight’s game."

The two-time Stanley Cup champion was medically cleared to practice from his concussion on Oct. 1, but the Blackhawks wanted to give Crawford as much time as he needed to get his conditioning and puck-tracking skills up to game speed before putting him into game action.

"It feels good to be back to myself," Crawford said on Wednesday. "I'm feeling good, I'm feeling clear. It was a pretty long process. ... Practices have been great, been getting timing a little bit more and getting up to speed and reading shots and all that, so it'll be nice to finally get in one."

To make room for Crawford on the 23-man roster, the Blackhawks have assigned forward Luke Johnson to the Rockford IceHogs of the American Hockey League. Brandon Saad, who wore a white healthy scratch jersey all week at practice, will take his spot in the lineup.

For now, the Blackhawks will hang on to Anton Forsberg and carry three goaltenders as insurance as they get ready to start a seven-games-in-11-days stretch.

Crawford was 16-9-2 with a 2.27 goals against average, .929 save percentage and two shutouts in 28 games last season. The Blackhawks were 17-30-8 without him and finished last in the Central Division.

Sports Talk Live Podcast: Is Crawford ready to go?

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USA TODAY

Sports Talk Live Podcast: Is Crawford ready to go?

Jimmy Greenfield, Connor McKnight, and Matt Spiegel join Kap on the panel to discuss Corey Crawford back on the ice for the first time in 10 months. The Bears have good news when it comes to Khalil Mack, who injured his ankle against the Dolphins.

Plus, Fred Hoiberg announces that Jabari Parker is coming off the bench for the season opener.

Listen to the full episode here or via the embedded player below: