CHICAGO – The Chicago Blackhawks sent forward Brandon Bollig to the Rockford IceHogs of the American Hockey League on Wednesday afternoon to clear roster space for the return of veteran defenseman Steve Montador.
Montador, 33, has been cleared to play after a lengthy upper-body injury believed to be concussion related. Montador hasn’t played since March 27, 2012, when he took a high hit against the New Jersey Devils. He will not be in the lineup on Wednesday night for Chicago when the Blackhawks host the Colorado Avalanche at United Center in NBC Sports
Network’s weekly “Wednesday Night Rivalry” game.
Chicago now has eight defensemen on the roster, with only so much playing time available.
“You can never have enough [defensemen],” Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville said on Wednesday prior to the game. “That’s one area an one position where you’re depth is going to get challenged over the course of the season. We’ve definitely been deeper in that area this
year and it’s really helped us out. Sometimes you’ve got to go to the well eight, nine or 10 deep in the organization. We’ve been fortunate so far, but you never know.”
Montador’s season came to an abrupt halt in New Jersey last year, in his first game back after missing the 22 previous contests with an upper body injury also believed to be a concussion. He missed the rest of the regular season and Stanley Cup quarterfinal series loss to the Phoenix Coyotes, but hoped to be ready for the start of this season.
After gaining medical clearance to get back on the ice last summer, Montador re-aggravated the injury during on-ice workouts with other NHL players held in Chicago during the lockout. The veteran blueliner, who still has two years left on his contract after this one, has missed this season’s first 23 games and will be a healthy scratch in Game No. 24 on Wednesday.
Montador will now have to find a way to crack the active lineup, where fellow vets Michal Rozsival and Sheldon Brookbank are sharing time on the third pairing alongside young puck-mover Nick Leddy. Quenneville said he will look for an opportunity to get Montador back on the ice at some point, but isn’t sure when it will happen.
Montador might also not make the one-game road trip to Colorado for a game at Pepsi Center on Friday.
“The first seven [defensemen] that were playing were playing extremely well,” Quenneville said. “You don’t want to have to sit one out right now. It’s always a tough decision and they’re all deserving of playing. We’ll see Monty working his way in, [but] certainly the group that’s playing right now we’re very happy with. We’ll see how it progresses.”
Montador finished the2011-12 season with five goals, nine assists and a plus-4 rating in 52 games played. Bollig, whose role was mostly enforcer on the fourth line, didn’t record a point in 11 games and racked up 40 penalty minutes.
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