It was a familiar drive and walk into Fifth Third Arena on Monday morning for Vinnie Hinostroza .
The 2012 sixth-round pick was re-acquired by the Blackhawks on Friday from the Florida Panthers and after a 19-hour drive from South Florida over the weekend, he was able to re-join his first NHL club for practice on Monday.
"It's obviously great to be back," he said. "It's nice when you can just drive to the rink and know where you're going, walk in the rink and see some familiar faces. I'm just super excited to be here, super excited they're giving me this opportunity."
Video: Hinostroza on return to Chicago
Hinostroza had a career season after being traded to Arizona in the summer of 2018 as part of the deal to move Marian Hossa's contract, with 39 points (16G, 23A) in 72 games. He took on more of a defensive role in his second season and posted 22 points (5G, 17A) in 68 games. The forward signed a one-year deal with the Panthers on October 9 of last year, but appeared just nine times for Florida over the opening 37 games before the trade.
"It's always a possibility (to be traded) and the way the season was going for me in Florida, I figured it was a really big possibility that I was going to be moved," Hinostroza said of the move. "When I heard it was Chicago, it was kind of a shocker. I was here before and there's 30 something other teams... I was really happy... It's a great fit."
Video: Colliton on Hinostroza, Dach
With 17 games to play in the Blackhawks' schedule, the hope is that the reunion is a mutually beneficial one, where Hinostroza can find his game again while helping the Blackhawks down the stretch in the process. Right away on Monday, he was skating alongside Dominik Kubalik and Philipp Kurashev in line rushes during his first practice.
"We're definitely not settled on any combos or anything, but just wanted to get him in," head coach Jeremy Colliton said. Overall, just his skating and his pace, that's something that when we're good, that's a big part of our game and we think we need to get back to that. He can help us there and he does have some skill and he's scored in the league before, so he can help on any line, I think. Whether it's down the lineup or up the lineup, we've just got to get him up to speed."
"Things didn't go how I wanted in Florida, but I know I have a lot of game left in me," he said. "I'm excited to be here and play my game and do whatever I can for this team."