Brandon Bollig and Andrew Shaw hit the ice early at Johnnys IceHouse West on Tuesday, joining fellow Chicago Blackhawks who have been skating here these past few months. The Rockford IceHogs forwards were told to get up to Chicago and get familiar with the players again.
For Bollig and Shaw, who spent most of the second half of the 2011-12 season with the Blackhawks, its a chance to get reacclimated. Because when the brief training camp starts, its going to be a fast and furious fight to grab a roster spot.
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Yeah, especially with guys not playing as much as they usually would be during normal training camp, said Bollig. Its unfortunate the circumstances coming out of the offseason and not having a (normal) training camp. But if guys are lucky enough to be invited now, hopefully they can get it done and show what they have. Otherwise, its just part of being a pro to be prepared for whatever comes at you.
Shaw, Bollig and Marcus Kruger came up from Rockford on Wednesday and are likely to be here through the week to prep for training camp; NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly told several media outlets that training camps are likely to open on Sunday. Krugers spot is basically set. Shaw and Bollig certainly left their marks on the squad last season, but does that mean theyre guaranteed a spot this season?
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Its likely a few others will get called up from Rockford before camp begins. Nick Leddy, whos established here already, should be back soon. And one would assume Brandon Saad and Ben Smith, who has the second-most points for the IceHogs (25), could get their opportunities.
Players who are vying for a spot will have to impress quick. But theres no doubt, with so much play in Rockford, theyll be competition ready.
Its been a great opportunity to play in the AHL, said Shaw, who has 14 points in 28 games this season. Weve stayed pretty focused down there. Coming up here, well push guys and theyll push us.
Said Bollig, theres no shape like game shape. I would think that most of us who have been playing feel pretty good.
Itll be interesting to see if any other players from Rockford come up to Chicago in the coming days. The IceHogs host Grand Rapids on Wednesday night Bollig, Shaw and Kruger are likely not playing in that game and the influx could increase after that.
Bollig and Shaw made some statements with their play last season. Thats likely to help them during this short camp.
Obviously its going to be a hectic time getting rosters set, Bollig said. It should be interesting, exciting to see whats going on.