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Hawks get good news on Sharp; Kruger on way

Tuesday, 03.22.2011 / 1:52 PM / News

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Hawks get good news on Sharp; Kruger on way
It appears that Patrick Sharp will be back before the end of the season, according to the report Joel Quenneville delivered after Tuesday's practice.
The Chicago Blackhawks got some good news on the injury front Tuesday.

It appears that Patrick Sharp will be back before the end of the season, according to the report coach Joel Quenneville delivered after Tuesday's practice.

"We hope to have him back before the end of the regular season," Quenneville said. "He feels better the last couple of days, so we'll see his progress over the next little bit."

Sharp, fifth in the NHL with 34 goals, collided with Phoenix Coyotes defenseman Rostislav Klesla during the first period of the Blackhawks' 2-1 victory Sunday night and did not return. He was examined by doctors during Monday's off day.

"I'm sure Sharpie's frustrated and he's going to hurry back as quick as he can," Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews said Sunday night. "We want him to make a full recovery and for the time being we'll have to step it up and find a way."

Replacing Sharp on the team's top line with Toews and Patrick Kane won't be easy.

The responsibility to fill that role could fall on the shoulders of either Viktor Stalberg or Troy Brouwer, who have combined to score six fewer goals than Sharp this season. Stalberg skated between Kane and Toews during Tuesday's practice.
"I'm sure Sharpie's frustrated and he's going to hurry back as quick as he can. We want him to make a full recovery and for the time being we'll have to step it up and find a way." -- Jonathan Toews
Sharp was invaluable during the Blackhawks' run to the Stanley Cup in 2010. He had 11 goals and 11 assists in 22 games, including two goals in Game 4 of the Western Conference Quarterfinals that helped the Blackhawks even their series with the pesky Nashville Predators.

This isn't the first time Sharp has suffered a left knee injury. He missed 16 games during the 2008-09 season due to a knee-to-knee hit with Dallas Stars forward Steve Ott.

Defenseman Brian Campbell also skated during Tuesday's practice and may play Wednesday. Campbell said his left foot felt better during Tuesday's practice, but his status won't be determined until Wednesday afternoon.

Chicago may also have more good news when it hosts the Panthers on Wednesday. According to various reports, the club will have Swedish forward Marcus Kruger.

Kruger, a fifth-round pick in the 2009 Entry Draft from Sweden, is on his way to join the team, according to a report by the Swedish news outlet SPORT-Expressen, which was later confirmed by his Swedish Elite League club's website.

Kruger, who turns 21 in May, signed a three-year entry-level contract with the Blackhawks this summer but decided to spend one more season in the SEL. He led Djurgardens IF, a team based in Stockholm, with 35 points (6 goals) in 52 games this season. His team was knocked out of the SEL playoffs Sunday.

Listed at 5-foot-11 and 172 pounds, Kruger was ranked as the No. 5 prospect in Chicago's system in the Future Watch issue of The Hockey News. Kruger was ranked No. 6 among Blackhawks prospects by the website Hockey Future's earlier this month.


Quote of the Day

I came into a team that had 65 points, that was at the bottom of the basement, a team that everybody wrote off as never going to be good. My goal is to go from the very bottom to the very top.

— Forward Brandon Dubinsky on signing a six-year contract extension with the Columbus Blue Jackets