Just seconds into his first NHL shift on Friday night against the New Jersey Devils, Blackhawks forward Ryan Hartman
skated over to Dainius Zubrus and hit the 18-year veteran so hard the Devils winger lost his helmet. The fans erupted in approval of the Illinois native’s physical play, and his teammates noticed as well. His hit was a popular topic at Saturday’s practice.
“It was awesome,” Patrick Kane said. “It was definitely one of those first shifts that he’ll always remember. I think that’s something we need in our lineup a little bit, some of that physicality and grit. It not only woke up the crowd and the people watching, but woke up our team a little bit too.”
Andrew Shaw, an energy guy himself, agreed with Kane's assessment.
“It just sparks the energy," he said. "He comes flying in; he obviously had a lot of excitement, He’s a good hitter, and he went out there and made a good hard clean hockey hit and got the boys going.”
“As the season progresses there are certain times of the year where a little energy – taking advantage of an opportunity for a young kid like Hartman last night – can make a little bit of a difference to our team,” Joel Quenneville added. “I find this time of the year young kids can really help inject something new to the team.”
And that's exactly what Hartman was trying to do.
“I hopped on there and saw an opportunity to make a play and make a hit,” he said. “That’s what my intentions were the first couple shifts. Get the nerves out and make a presence, make myself known. I think I did that pretty well. I just had a golden opportunity to do that.”