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Chicago Blackhawks Quickly Demote Ryan Hartman

By Colin Likas
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The first casualty of the four recent Rockford call-ups was determined by the Chicago Blackhawks on Thursday, as they demoted Ryan Hartman back to the IceHogs. No one else was called up, which probably means Marian Hossa will be back from his injury this weekend, and coach Joel Quenneville probably didn’t want to keep Hartman in the pressbox when he could be skating down at the Rock.

Hartman again had a short tenure with the Blackhawks after a similarly brief run with the club last season. He had the only assist on Marko Dano’s first Blackhawks goal last night, giving Hartman his first NHL point. Other than that, he finished with a minus-1 rating and three shots on goal.

Coach Q doesn’t seem to have much of a problem playing one set of hands down, as the Blackhawks will revert to carrying 22 players. If there was someone else the team wanted to call up, they would probably do it today ahead of traveling to New Jersey for Friday’s game. But Hartman’s ouster seems simply to be an opportunity to get him more playing time over the weekend with an impending Hossa return, as the IceHogs play Friday and Saturday.

That leaves, Dano, Tanner Kero and Erik Gustafsson as the remaining members of the Rockford call-up contingent. There’s a good chance Dano and Kero hang around longer, as there’s really no one else to fill up the third line with Bryan Bickell being in Rockford and Viktor Tikhonov being stuck in the pressbox. How long Gustafsson hangs with the Blackhawks is a tougher question, and one that should be more easily answered when Michal Rozsival returns from his ankle injury.

As for what this does for the Blackhawks’ forward lines heading into Friday’s game, Second City Hockey offered a pretty fair guess on Twitter:

This seems about right to me. It could also mean an uptick in playing time for the third line, as Garbutt is still one of the hottest Blackhawks forwards of late. There’s no good reason to break up the second or fourth lines right now, and Q will trot out x-Toews-Hossa until he sees a better opportunity.

Of course, Hossa was struggling pretty mightily alongside the captain prior to his injury, so there’s a chance Hossa could slot alongside Dano and Kero while Garbutt stays up top. That would likely lead to a noticeable increase in playing time for the two youngsters, and it’d be a really valuable experience for both. It’s something for Q to consider if he doesn’t want to simply throw Hossa back onto the top trio.

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