Gustav Forsling

Gustav Forsling call-up comes at perfect time for Blackhawks

Gustav Forsling call-up comes at perfect time for Blackhawks

The Blackhawks recalled defenseman Gustav Forsling from the Rockford IceHogs of the American Hockey League and placed forward Marcus Kruger (left leg) on injured reserve retroactive to Nov. 9, the team announced Tuesday.

Forsling, who underwent wrist surgery in the offseason, was sent to Rockford on Oct. 22 perhaps more-so as a conditioning stint and appeared in five games. He missed four contests with a groin injury, but is coming off a two-assist game against the Chicago Wolves over the weekend.

"It's been a long summer with the injury," Forsling said. "It's good to be finally back here."

The 22-year-old defenseman had three goals and 10 assists in 41 games with the Blackhawks last season before getting assigned to the IceHogs for the remainder of the campaign. He recorded five points (two goals, three assists) in 18 regular-season games and five points (one goal, four assists) in 13 postseason contests, where he really proved himself.

"Happy to have him here," coach Jeremy Colliton said. "We think he can help us. He's a fantastic skater, moves the puck clean, with his gap he can really defend lines well, we think he can add something to our group.

"Really pleased with how we played in the playoffs for us in Rockford. He played a huge role, not so much power play, but 5-on-5 and killing penalties and that's probably how we see him here for now. But he can move the puck and he can shoot the puck and he's got a lot of tools. Watching his play down in Rockford since he's come back, he's picked up where he left off and he can play the left and the right side, so it's a positive for our team."

Forsling said Colliton was a "huge" reason why Rockford went on such a deep playoff run last season, but also credited his new coach for the role he played in his development.

"He helped me a lot [in getting] my game to be at the top and I felt like I did very good in the playoffs down there," Forsling said. "He just wanted me to be consistent and show up every night, play good defensively. And I felt like he brought that out of me."

The Blackhawks' roster currently sits at 23 players, meaning they will be carrying eight defensemen for now despite the team's reluctance to do so again this season after it backfired a year ago — Colliton said he's not against the idea, but isn't for it, either. Brandon Davidson (right leg injury) did not practice on Tuesday, which was believed to be a reason for bringing up Forsling, but Colliton dismissed the thought that Forsling is only here for insurance.

"No, we think he can play," Colliton said. "We feel that he's back up to speed and it's up to him to prove himself."

Forsling's call-up certainly comes at a desperate time for the Blackhawks, who have lost eight in a row (0-6-2) and could use all the help they can get on the back end. 

"More competition the better," Colliton said. "It's going to push everyone to be better. Guys got to earn what they get and that's good for our group, that's good for the minimum level of our team. They know they've got to perform every night. It's up to us to be clear with what we're asking from the guys, so when they go out or come out, they know why, they know what they have to do to go in, they know what they have to do to stay in, and I think the overall performance of the team will go up."

Blackhawks injury and lineup updates: Corey Crawford remains on track to return next week

Blackhawks injury and lineup updates: Corey Crawford remains on track to return next week

After a three-day break, the Blackhawks will return to action on Thursday to take on the Minnesota Wild in their first Central Division showdown of the season.

But there are several injury updates and lineup changes to note following Wednesday's practice. Here's a rundown of them:

Corey Crawford will not travel to Minnesota, according to a source, but coach Joel Quenneville said he remains on track to return on Oct. 18 against the Arizona Coyotes.

"He's seeing pucks, he's seeing traffic, he's seeing everything you want," Quenneville said. "He's getting a couple, three weeks to get game type of situations every day in practice. That's the hope, that's the target and right now he's looking forward to it.

Anton Forsberg left practice a little bit early after chatting with head trainer Mike Gapski on the bench for about five minutes and appeared to get his right hand taped up. But he apparently took a puck in a funny spot and is fine.

Gustav Forsling has been skating on his own for several weeks now as he continues to recover from a wrist injury, but he fully practiced with the Blackhawks for the first time and wasn't put on any kind of restriction. Quenneville said his timeline has not changed, as he's still 2-3 weeks away.

When Forsling is cleared to return, the Blackhawks expect him to be in the lineup right away. But it will be interesting to see how that dynamic plays out if everyone is healthy, considering there's no interest in carrying eight defensemen like last season and they're currently at seven.

"We'll want to get him playing right off the bat," Quenneville said. "He looked good out there. I liked how he skated, but we'll want him playing right off the bat and then go from there."

— Rookie standout Henri Jokiharju missed practice because of flu-like symptoms. He is traveling to Minnesota and is expected to play.

Andreas Martinsen hasn't practiced for the last two days because of a back injury. It's unclear when he'll return.

"I don't know when he'll get on the ice, but hopefully real soon," Quenneville said. "I don't  think it's serious, but he's not going to Minnesota."

— With Martinsen injured, Alexandre Fortin was recalled from the Rockford IceHogs of the American Hockey League on Tuesday night to be the 23th man on the roster. Quenneville indicated that he will play against the Wild rather than serve as the 13th forward.

Fortin rotated in and out with Luke Johnson on the fourth line, alongside Marcus Kruger and John Hayden.

"I think just watching games in the league and the game is fast, it's quick," Quenneville said. "We always want an extra forward around anyways and it gives us an opportunity to get a look at him today and I think seeing him in a game tomorrow will be good to give us something to look at and try something as well."

— There is no news on Connor Murphy, who has been out since the start of training camp with a back injury. On Sept. 19 it was announced that he will be off the ice for six weeks before reevaluating his progression, pushing back his timeline to 8-12 weeks. Wednesday marked the third week. The Blackhawks may not seen him until late November or December.

Conventional Wisdom: Takeaways from Blackhawks convention

Conventional Wisdom: Takeaways from Blackhawks convention

With the 11th annual Blackhawks Convention in the books, here are some of the things that stood out most to me.

Corey Crawford didn’t look or sound like a goalie who will be ready for the start of training camp. Beyond saying that he wasn’t 100 percent healthy, Crow looked like a guy who is still on the road to recovery. I can still remember Crawford talking to reporters back on February 12 in Arizona.  

It was disturbing and scary to see him pause and search for answers that day. While Corey didn’t struggle like that at the convention, he didn’t leave you with the feeling that a return to the crease was in his immediate future.

While the team remains optimistic that Crawford will be ready for training camp, I would be stunned if Crow is ready to go in mid-September. Talking with one of my colleagues at the convention, they said “Corey reminds me of when we talked to Sidney Crosby back in 2012 and we wondered if his career would be cut short because of concussions.”

We all know things worked out for Crosby and he’s won a couple more championships since missing 108 games in the 2011 and 2012 campaigns. Let’s hope Crawford follows the same road back to health and hockey.

I am really looking forward to reading Rocky Wirtz’s new book, "The Breakaway: The Inside Story of the Wirtz Family Business and the Chicago Blackhawks." Looking at some of the excerpts that have been released, the Chairman doesn’t hold anything back. Rocky told fans at the convention that his goal was to tell the truth and not sugar coat his family’s story. 

During an interview Jonathan Toews discussed how missing the playoffs was a “humbling experience and it’s time to earn it all over again.” Duncan Keith admitted the losing last year affected his attitude and he looks to take an upbeat approach to this young team as they attempt to get back to the postseason.

Watching Eddie Olczyk and Pat Foley embrace during the opening ceremonies, seeing the emotion pour out, I couldn’t help but think about the inspiring journey Edzo took us all on over the last year. He educated thousands of folks every time he was on the radio or TV about colon cancer. Many believe Eddie’s public battle played a role in the American Cancer Society recommending that people should start screening tests for colon and rectal cancers at age 45, rather than waiting until age 50. 

Every Hawks player I spoke with that has played in the 4-on-4 Chicago Pro Hockey League has raved about the experience. They find it a great way to supplement their off-season workouts with on ice action, that is both competitive and safe. Alex DeBrincat loved his experience at the World Championships this past May and his face lit up when I asked him about continuing to play on Patrick Kane’s line this upcoming season. It will be interesting to see if Joel Quenneville will change his stance on putting Kane and “The Cat” together.

With Gustav Forsling having surgery this week on his right wrist, he will not be ready for training camp and won’t be expected to return to action until early November. The consensus opinion at the convention is that Henri Jokiharju is ready to play in the NHL and will likely make the team.

Lastly, stick tap to the Blackhawks faithful. You guys don’t let missing the playoffs, or a couple of one and dones, dampen your enthusiasm for this team. You rock the Indian Head sweater up and down Michigan Avenue in extreme temperatures and pack the Hilton Chicago every single year, never letting the win/loss record affect your positive attitude. Duncan Keith said he feeds off the energy of the fans at the convention and that also goes for those of us who are privileged to cover this team.