Sep 17, 2013; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago Blackhawks left wingBrandon Saad
(20) checks Detroit Red Wings defensemanNathan Paetsch
(24) during the second period at the United Center. Mandatory Credit: Rob Grabowski-USA TODAY Sports
Coming into this season, the major position battle would be for the second line center spot. The leading candidates within the Blackhawks organizations were Brandon Pirri, Michal Handzus, Drew Leblanc and Marcus Kruger. Coach Quenneville shocked the hockey world when he announced that Brandon Saad would be the leading candidate for the second line center spot.
Saad being Coach Q’s choice shocked everyone because Saad has never played center in his hockey life. Saad did spend most of the time at the center position this preseason. To say Saad looked uncomfortable at the center position would be an understatement. Saad had only won 9 of 38 face-offs in two games.
Coach Q recognizing that Saad was better at his natural position; put an end to the Saad experiment. Saad will return to the wing this season; however Coach Q did not completely close the door on Saad playing center. Coach Q is holding out hope that Saad becomes a center despite Saad comments “I am a born winger”.
The second line center position will belong to Michal Handzus. Handzus was resigned as an insurance policy in case the kids did not work out at the position. Although Handzus was scheduled to be the fourth line center and part time player. He will slide into the second line center position despite having limited action in the preseason.
The second line center question has now been answered, but with that answer the Blackhawks will face more questions. Questions such as will Handzus hold up for an entire season? Where does Brandon Pirri fit in with the Blackhawks? And the most important question of all, can the Blackhawks repeat as champions?