The Chicago Blackhawks’ proclivity for parting with guys from the Chicagoland area continues. Today, we look back at the second native to hit the road.
Scott Darling left the Chicago Blackhawks a champion. Headed to Carolina, Darling had newfound confidence and an opportunity to prove himself as a starting goalie. But most of all, Darling was thankful. The Blackhawks gave him a shot and he answered their call. Now, it would be up to him to continue that success in net with his new organization.
This week we’ll take a look at Ryan Hartman and his experience playing for the organization he grew up admiring.
Ryan Hartman: West Dundee native
Although Ryan Hartman was born in South Carolina, he was raised in West Dundee from the age of 2. Roughly 40 miles northwest of Chicago, there’s no surprise Hartman grew up supporting the Indian Head.
Ryan Hartman was selected 30th overall in the 2013 NHL Entry Draft. What an incredible accomplishment for a young hockey player. With sweaty palms, the list of names inched closer to the ‘Hawks logo on the main draft board.
Not only was Hartman drafted to the NHL in the first round, he would take the stage with members of the Chicago Blackhawks’ front office. After being drafted, Hartman displayed excitement as well as ambition in an interview with the Chicago Tribune:
"“Being a hometown kid also makes it a little bit sweeter. I’ll try to make the jump as soon as possible and see if I can make my fit on this team.” – Ryan Hartman (Chris Kuc, June 30, 2013)"
After two mildly productive seasons in the AHL with the Rockford IceHogs, Hartman finally made that jump to the NHL. In February of 2015, Hartman would make quite the impact during his first NHL shift by delivering a crushing hit on New Jersey Devils forward Dainius Zubrus.
With family and friends in attendance at the United Center, the hometown kid certainly displayed strength while on skates. Hartman would not see a permanent role on the Blackhawks roster until the 2016-17 season.
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Landing that huge hit was an even larger moment for Hartman in his first NHL game playing with the team he grew up watching. He did not score a point that game or even during that five-game stretch in 2015, but he got a sample of what all that hard work would taste like.
"“I grew up dreaming of this and it happened,” Hartman said. “It has sunk in finally and it’s pretty crazy.” – Ryan Hartman (Chris Kuc, February 14, 2015)"
As wind of a potential trade began picking up this year, Hartman did not have much to say:
"“I love being here,” Hartman said last week when speculation first popped up. “I haven’t really thought of myself anywhere else.” – Ryan Hartman (Mark Lazerus, February 26, 2018)"
When the trade finally did go through to the Nashville Predators, players and coaches reflected on the hometown kid and his new home. Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville insisted it was a good opportunity for the young forward and had this to say: “I’m sure they’re excited about getting a guy like Hartzy,” (Mark Lazerus, February 26, 2018)
Hartman would finally get his opportunity to score his first postseason point. Unfortunately, this first playoff tally was in a yellow sweater and not a red one.
Hartman did not have much to say after the trade was made official. However, his best friend on and off the ice, Vinnie Hinostroza, did.
“I don’t really know what to think. I haven’t talked to him yet,” a shocked Hinostroza said in an interview with Lazerus of the Sun-Times. “We’re always going to remain best friends. That’s not going to change anything. We’ll always spend our summers together and stuff. … Hopefully, he’s still here. I can give him a hug before he gets out of here, or go get a bite or something.”
Hinostroza would be the last Chicagoland native presently with the Blackhawks (though that quickly changed) after seeing his best friend and teammate head south to the division rival Nashville Predators. Hartman left quietly and confidently.
Headed to an organization bound for another deep playoff run, the future was bright. Along with family and friends, Hartman left his first and only hat trick here in Chicago. Funny, though, the hat trick came against the team he now plays for.