Two former Chicago Blackhawks will return to the United Center tonight when the Montreal Canadiens come to town
Being traded from one team to another has to be an awkward experience in any professional sports league, the NHL included. The Chicago Blackhawks have been involved in this process a lot in recent years due to salary cap constraints.
Among the guys who probably didn’t want to leave Chicago, but who didn’t have much choice in the matter, were forwards Andrew Shaw and Phillip Danault. Both were (and still are) viewed as grinder-type guys, though of different molds.
The rights to Shaw were sent to Montreal after that playoff push fell flat, as Shaw was asking for far more money than the Blackhawks could afford to give him.
Both of these guys are well settled in to the Canadiens at this point, and they’re part of one of the few NHL teams that has gotten off to a better start than the Blackhawks (13-1-1 vs. 10-3-2).
Danault is off to a great start in Montreal this season, posting nine points in 15 games. Shaw has had a slower go of it, netting six points in the same number of games. All things considered, however, these are two guys the Blackhawks need to watch very closely in tonight’s contest.
Players always have something to prove
The Blackhawks knew what they had in Danault and Shaw. It’s not like they got rid of these two because they were underachieving or they thought they’d reached the end of their respective ropes.
It was purely business. And Shaw and Danault don’t seem to have hard feelings against Chicago. But at the end of the day, Danault saw a team say, “We can go without you down the road.” And Shaw saw a team say, “You aren’t worth nearly as much as you think you are.”
Whether or not these thoughts are true, they’re fuel for Shaw and Danault. They’re going to bring everything they’ve got into tonight’s contest.
Danault may be a bottom-six guy, but he’s going to try to get the puck on net and win as many scrums and faceoffs as possible. And Shaw’s going to mix it up with his former teammates every opportunity he has while also trying to convert some ugly goals.
The Blackhawks need to be aware of this. Motivation can be a dangerous tool for the opponent, and the Blackhawks would no doubt like to go into their Circus Trip on a winning note.
You still have to be aware of the likes of Max Pacioretty, Alex Galchenyuk, Tomas Plekanec, Shea Weber and the like — not to mention Carey Price in goal. But the matchup of Danault and Shaw against Chicago offers an intriguing challenge other teams wouldn’t see.