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Practice Report: Havlat Returns

by Staff Writer / Chicago Blackhawks

Blackhawks winger Martin Havlat returned to practice Thursday and showed no ill effects of the groin injury that has kept him out of the lineup the last three games.

Havlat said he had a good, hard skate and felt fine. The Blackhawks' leader in goals and points will be evaluated at Friday's practice but coach Denis Savard said there is a good possibility he will be in the lineup Saturday at Detroit.

Havlat finished 8th in All-Star voting among Western Conference forwards behind San Jose's trio of Joe Thornton (1st), Jonathan Cheechoo (3rd) and Patrick Marleau (4th), with Colorado's Joe Sakic (2nd), Calgary's Jarome Iginla (5th), Markus Naslund from Vancouver (6th) and Anaheim's Teemu Selanne (7th) rounding out the top seven.

Havlat has been focused on getting healthy and returning to the lineup, but said he would love to play in the All-Star Game if selected to the final roster.

Complete rosters for the All-Star Game, which will be played Wednesday, Jan. 24 in Dallas, and the NHL YoungStars Game will be announced this Saturday.

Injury updates: dBryan Smolinski, who is tied with Havlat for the team points lead, did not practice Thursday because he was getting an MRI to look into a knee injury that has nagged him recently. Smolinski is not expected to miss an extended amount of time but is questionable for Saturday's game ... The Hawks were also without the services of defenseman Jim Vandermeer, who missed practice with a sore ankle after blocking a shot Wednesday night vs. Buffalo ... Karl Stewart continues to practice with the team but remains on IR due to a sprained knee. Savard said he is still a few days away from being at full speed.

Hardest working Hawk: Coach Savard said Thursday that despite his recent offensive struggles, Tuomo Ruutu continues to play hard every night and has been the team's hardest worker throughout the season. Ruutu has no points in his last four games and just two in his last eight.

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