Tough hockey players aren’t hard to find. Finding tough hockey players who can contribute, as coach Joel Quenneville puts it, “meaningful minutes”… That’s another story – one 25-year-old winger Brandon Mashinter hopes he’ll be a central character in this season for the Blackhawks.
After coming over to Rockford via a mid-season trade with the Rangers, the 6-4, 220 pound power forward tallied 14 goals in 47 games for the AHL’s IceHogs. In five professional seasons, including 23 NHL appearances between the Rangers and Sharks, Mashinter has averaged almost 16 goals per year. Rockford teammate Jeremy Morin speaks highly of his skills.
"He’s obviously a big body out there," says Jeremy Morin. "A lot of people look at him as a tough guy but he plays the game pretty well. He’s got some offensive ability but obviously he’s a presence out there with how he can move for a big man. When he gets into some altercations, he can finish the job. He’s an enforcer type who can play hockey.
In order to help reach his goal of playing hockey every night for the Blackhawks, Mashinter worked closely this offseason with the team’s skating and skills development instructor.
"I was with Kevin Delaney quite a bit this summer. I came a week in July to work with him, and came three weeks early to skate with him… Nothing’s given to me," Mashinter said. "There’s some [people] saying they’re going to give me a real opportunity, but I’ve got to make the best of it. I have to earn that spot."
"Watching him the first day, I liked him, I liked what I saw… As camp evolves it will get competitive, but there’ll likely be a spot there [for a physical presence]," said Joel Quenneville.
"I’m a guy that gets pucks deep – hit the body, get physical, make room for the other guys, make plays when I need to," Mashinter said. "When I need to protect a teammate or get the guys going, I’m not afraid to drop the gloves."