Tomas Jurco knew the trade was coming. At least he thought he knew the trade was coming.
Jurco was enjoying his bye break with his girlfriend in New York when his agent told him to expect a call around noon on Feb. 24. But noon, as well as an afternoon of sightseeing, came and went. By 4 p.m. that day, there was still no call.
"So I took a nap," Jurco said with a laugh. "After 30 minutes my phone was blowing up."
The rest of that day and the next are a blur to Jurco, who flew back to Detroit, packed, flew into Chicago early on Feb. 25 and practiced with his new teammates. Yeah, a lot of quick adjustments those two days. But to get a fresh start with the Blackhawks, to get a chance to show a new team what he can do, is worth it.
Jurco's been "a work in progress," to quote Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville. It's not a big surprise to hear that. Jurco, who struggled to find a place in the Detroit Red Wings' regular lineup, is getting that right now with the Blackhawks. After playing fewer than 10 minutes a game when he did play for the Wings, he's played 11-13 minutes in three games for the Blackhawks.
"He's trying to get established, getting comfortable, whether on a regular line or side," Quenneville said. "We've tried him in different spots. He's been fine. I think he's still getting acclimated to the systems. Offensively we want him to trust his instincts and getting more comfortable with the puck."
Jurco has played in a few different spots, from the third line with Marian Hossa to the fourth line to the top line with Jonathan Toews and Richard Panik midway through the Blackhawks' 5-3 victory over Nashville on Saturday. Jurco is trying to learn quickly but knows it may not all click immediately.
"Everything is great around there. The city's great. Of course the team has a great year and another great chance to go for a Cup so for me that's a really good thing. But I'm still getting used to all the stuff, different systems, different teammates," he said. "I like everything about the team but I need time to get used to it."
General manager Stan Bowman, when he acquired Jurco, said the 24-year-old should be given time to adjust.
"He's been an accomplished player at a lot of different levels. He's shown flashes in the NHL, not as consistently as he or the Wings would like, but you can see the talent and potential," Bowman said. "You have to have some patience with these guys. It doesn't always come together right away. We're not expecting him to carry our team but I think he can contribute. There has to be a measure of patience but the potential is great."
Everybody adjusts at a different rate. Fellow countryman Panik came in last season and fit in relatively fast, although Panik was playing regularly before he got here. Jurco doesn't know how long it will take but he's determined to fit in and help the Blackhawks down the stretch.
"I think it'll take time for me to actually fit in and play really well. Of course, the first few games, I'm finding my spot where to go. But I'm thankful for the chance," he said. "I'm trying to show them that, once I get used to it, I can be a good player for this team."