Let’s be honest we have had our doubts about Antoine Vermette since he arrived at the trade deadline from the Arizona Coyotes. Yes, at first Chicago Blackhawks nation was excited about a true blue #2 center not past his prime heading to Chicago to play next to Patrick Kane.
The early part of the Antoine Vermette transition to becoming a Chicago Blackhawk didn’t go as planned. I remember listening to NHL Network after the trade deadline and Jamal Mayers saying that the one thing a NHL veteran wants to do when changing teams is get on the scoreboard quickly if not the first game. Well, for Vermette that didn’t happen not in the first game or the Season final his 19th game.
Vermette did have one moment where he looked to have officially became a member of the Blackhawks when he had a shootout winner against the Edmonton Oilers.
Let’s also be very honest in saying that coming to a team coached by Joel Quenneville is never going to be an easy transition. It’s not like he was handed the keys to the Mustang on Day #1. In the #Qhemistry world the Chicago Blackhawks play in you have to earn the right to play with Patrick Kane, so some of his struggles where playing with 3rd and 4th line guys and some of it was just not getting the ice time from Quenneville to get comfortable.
After a some solid play in the opening two rounds and after a triple overtime classic win in Game #2 in Anaheim, Joel Quenneville did something he never does and that’s change his lineup after a win. Vermette wasn’t happy as were most of the fans and the result was almost disastrous for the Chicago Blackhawks and the moves totally backfired on Q with the Hawks losing Game #3 2-1.
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Whether it was a wake up call or just pissed off for not playing which you have to totally respect, Vermette truly became a Chicago Blackhawks fan favorite when he deposited the Game #4 winner to the back of the net in overtime beating Anderson who was down and out.
The excuse from Joel Quenneville was he needed fresh legs in the lineup, but it was Vermette’s Fresh Legs in Game #4 that tied the series up.
The biggest strength in the playoffs that Antoine Vermette has really brought to the table has been face-off wins which has set up the Chicago Blackhawks possession game which the Ducks couldn’t solve especially late in the Western Conference Finals.
The trade deadline deal looks even better this morning after Vermette netted the game winning goal on a forced turnover by Teuvo Teravainen late in the third period of Game #1 of the Stanley Cup Final.
Vermette looks like a new man full of confidence and can keep playing that way while wearing the Chicago Blackhawks sweater even if it only last this one last series.
It didn’t start out as a home run, but the Vermette trade is looking better game by game especially the longer the 2015 Stanley Cup Playoffs last!
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