With injuries to three top players this past weekend, the Blackhawks were encouraged to see winger Tuomo Ruutu and defenseman Cam Barker back on the ice Tuesday.
Ruutu suffered a knee injury during the preseason while Barker re-fractured his ankle prior to the start of training camp.
According to Blackhawks captain Adrian Aucoin, having both players back at practice definitely gives the team lift.
Aucoin: "It's a pretty cool thing having Ruuty back. Obviously last year was a tough year for him [and] for a lot of guys. But he's an energy player, a game-breaker; he's one of those guys who can score the big goal, lay the big hit and he's a really good guy to have on the ice."
Ruutu: "It's fun to go out there and practice with the team. It's not so much fun by yourself just skating ... I felt good."
Ruutu has been counting the days to his return since the injury occurred on Sept. 22, but figures to be at least another week away from making his regular season debut.
Yawney: "It's too early to say. He's feeling good and that's the main thing. We'll follow the same thing we did with him last year ... Every day just add a little bit more, add a little bit more, and eventually we'll get him back into the lineup."
Ruutu: "Adding the contact [is next]. We'll probably go like this for a couple of days with flow drills and then go to normal contact, and I think if everything goes well I'll be ready to play after that."
Barker did participate in the full practice and will start the season in Norfolk once he is ready to come off Injured Reserve. Defenseman Brent Seabrook, who regularly played against Barker in the Western Hockey League, said it won't be long before Barker is back up with the Hawks.
Seabrook: "Yeah, I think so. He's very skilled and he's very poised with the puck out there. So with him he just adds a different offensive element. I think if he's good in his own zone, he'll play himself onto this team."
Aucoin: "Cam Barker, he's young right now but he's going to be one of the best defenseman in the game. He's got unbelievable strength, skill, smarts and everything. He'll probably still take a little bit of time, but it's just fun to get a guy out there who is that good."
With this Eye on the Hawks video report, I'm Adam Kempenaar, chicagoblackhawks.com.