SOUTH BEND, Ind. – This past summer was an important one for Trevor van Riemsdyk.
“I wanted to get strong, get back to where I was coming into last year’s training camp. You don’t want anything nagging you, nothing hurting, [you want] everything feeling fresh, especially at this time of the year,” van Riemsdyk said. “It’s a long year and hopefully I stay a little more healthy this year.”
If van Riemsdyk could have said that last sentence knocking on the wood of his locker with a horseshoe, he probably would have. The defenseman’s promising rookie season was derailed when he suffered a fractured patella last November. Just as he was coming back from that injury/surgery, he suffered a wrist injury that also needed surgery.
Nevertheless, van Riemsdyk was able to return during the Stanley Cup Final and hoist his first Cup in June.
Not a bad ending, really, especially considering the two injuries.
“I was definitely good enough to play, maybe a little rusty because I hadn’t played a lot,” he said of last June. “I was thrilled to be out there and excited to be a really, really small part of us winning.”
This year, van Riemsdyk would like to be a really, really big part of the Blackhawks’ winning. He had a good start again in this training camp at the University of Notre Dame, where he played some with Duncan Keith.
“I really like playing with him,” Keith said. “He’s such a poised guy out there, always makes the smart play and is easy to play with. I think we could be good together.”
Coach Joel Quenneville would like to see van Riemsdyk play an expanded role in the Blackhawks’ defense this season.
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“He’s heady defenseman,” Quenneville said. “Sees plays, kills plays defensively. He’s got a nice stick. Play recognition with the puck, as well, is good. He’s one of those guys where we used him in a lot of situations last year prior to [injuries] and threw him in the final. We have confidence in him and he has confidence in the game, the way he plays with that poise.
"I think he can help us out on the back end and we’re going to need him to be a part of it.”
Van Riemsdyk has a great opportunity this season but knows he won’t get it just because he’s here. He wants to show he deserves a chance. He wants to be a bigger part of the Blackhawks. And he wants – and needs – his health to cooperate.
“It’s kind of the same thing [as last year]: you have to prove your worth. They’re not just going to hand you a role. I have to show I can handle any sort of work load they want to give me,” van Riemsdyk said. “I’m excited for the year coming up and to hopefully stay healthy the whole year.”