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FEATURE: Kruger ecstatic about return to Chicago

You could sense the excitement for Marcus Kruger following the news he had been traded back to Chicago

by Chris Wescott / chicagoblackhawks.com

It's really a dream scenario for Marcus Kruger.

The 28-year-old Swede had not played a single game for the Arizona Coyotes, so his roots in the desert remain decisively unplanted.

But a city and organization where Kruger most certainly has roots dug deep in the ground is Chicago. It's why when he found out he had been traded back to the Blackhawks after a few short seasons away, Kruger was elated.

Video: Marcus Kruger on returning to Chicago

"Obviously, I'm really excited," he said, speaking to the media via phone call just an hour and a half following the trade announcement. "I couldn't be any more happy. I'm ready to go and I'm just overall real excited to be back."

Former and now current teammates have already reached out to the center, who was a key role player on two Stanley Cup Blackhawks squads. He's embracing his welcome back.

"A lot of great memories," Kruger said. "Just playing in the building there and the atmosphere is really hard to beat. But what I miss most of all is the people there I got to know over the years and everyone around the team. Really happy to be back with them and close to them. It's going to be great and I'm really happy."

On the ice, it's almost a dream scenario as well. Chicago is, after all, where Kruger has played his best hockey - showing his ability to be a bottom-six, go-to, defense-first piece - particularly when the playoffs come around. Knowing what is expected of him, Kruger is ready to hit the ground running.

"Play my game and try to do whatever the coaches want me to do, do that 100 percent and give them my best. That's all I can do," he said. "Obviously, they know what kind of player I am. It's playing to my strengths and being a guy they can trust on both ends of the ice. It's going to be exciting. We both know each other."

With the Blackhawks, Kruger played 398 regular season games and contributed 33 goals and 72 assists. In the postseason, he suited up for 87 games in Chicago, scoring six goals to go along with 10 assists. His two rings came in 2013 and 2015.

Tweet from @NHLBlackhawks: See you soon, Krugs! pic.twitter.com/XNseLjBAdR

2017-18 was a tough year for Kruger, his first season away from Chicago. With Carolina, he scored just one goal and added five assists in only 48 games. It was in the midst of what has been a whirlwind career stretch. He was traded to Arizona in May, and now finds himself back where he feels he can jumpstart his career again.

"I feel good," he said. "I feel ready to go, ready now. There are not going to be any problems for training camp or next year. What went wrong last year? I don't know. I wasn't playing enough… I'm really excited to show what I can do and how I can play and get better from it. Obviously, it was a tough year last year but I think going through that I learned a lot. I just want to make sure I really prepare here and get better from it and be ready for next year."

Kruger was acquired along with MacKenzie Entwistle, Jordan Maletta, Andrew Campbell and a 2019 fifth-round pick. In exchange, the Blackhawks gave the Coyotes Marian Hossa, Vinnie Hinostroza, Jordan Oesterle and a third-round pick in 2019.

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