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Toews held out of scrimmage for precautionary reason

by Brian Hedger / Chicago Blackhawks
Chase Agnello-Dean / Chicago Blackhawks

SOUTH BEND, Ind. -- The Chicago Blackhawks went through their first day of scrimmaging at training camp on Friday at Notre Dame's Compton Family Ice Arena without captain Jonathan Toews.

After he went through a practice session with his assigned group in the morning, the decision to pull him from the scrimmage was made in order to rest an undisclosed lower-body injury.

"He practiced this morning and [being] precautionary, we kept him off for the game," Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville said. "It's not serious, but we decided we'd give him a little [time], see how he is [Saturday] and maybe give him a couple days off the ice."

Toews completed all of the off-ice conditioning tests on Wednesday. According to Quenneville, the injury didn't just happen at camp.

"I think it was kind of bugging him before, but he went through everything [Thursday] and today and felt not bad, but we said, 'Hey, let’s be smart about it,'" Quenneville said.

Replacing Toews at center on the white team's top line was rookie Brandon Pirri -- who's in contention for a roster spot after leading the American Hockey League in points for the Rockford IceHogs last season. Pirri was just as surprised as anybody in the arena when he didn’t see Toews on the ice before the opening puck drop.

Icehogs coach Ted Dent, who was manning the bench for Pirri's team, broke the news soon afterward.

"I was sitting on the bench and the ref was sitting at the faceoff [dot] and we had four guys out there," Pirri said. "So [Dent] kicked me and said, 'Get out there.' So I just ran out there."

Pirri is one of the candidates for what appears to be a vacancy playing between stars Patrick Sharp and Marian Hossa on the second line. Rookie Drew LeBlanc and 20-year old Brandon Saad are a couple of other horses in the field.

While Saad and LeBlanc traded shifts playing with Sharp and Hossa on the red team, Pirri played exclusively with Bryan Bickell and Patrick Kane in place of Toews, scoring a goal and not looking overmatched.

"Those are two talented guys," Pirri said. "It was a fun opportunity. You've just got to give a guy like [Kane] the puck and get open and [Bickell] just creates room for everyone, so it was a lot of fun."

Hossa and Sharp, whose team played in both scrimmages, led the stat sheet, setting each other up for goals, with Hossa adding a second tally in the first scrimmage. Kane also found the back of the net.

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