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Blackhawks' van Riemsdyk has brother to offer advice

by Dan Rosen

CHICAGO -- Chicago Blackhawks defenseman Trevor van Riemsdyk better keep his phone on Monday afternoon because big brother James, a forward for the Toronto Maple Leafs, is going to be calling now that he knows little brother will be playing in the Stanley Cup Final.

Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville wouldn't confirm van Riemsdyk will be playing in Game 3 against the Tampa Bay Lightning at United Center on Monday (8 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, TVA Sports), but all indications are he will be in the lineup.

Van Riemsdyk came off the ice Monday morning with the regulars while David Rundblad stayed on with the extras. That's an indication van Riemsdyk will be playing in his first game since Nov. 16, when he fractured his left patella blocking a shot.

"I've been doing all I can to get ready, to be mentally prepared for this," van Riemsdyk said. "There is experience in the room and I have a brother who has been through this helping me out."

James van Riemsdyk has been offering advice to his brother throughout the Cup Final. Trevor said he spoke to him as recently as Sunday. Trevor also said James and their younger brother, Brendan, will be in attendance Monday.

James told last week that as soon as he knows Trevor will play he will talk to him.

"With his temperament he handles things like these situations very well and he has a lot of great guys around him, but I'll probably give him maybe a sentence or two, give him something maybe I wish I would have known going into that situation," James said.

The elder van Riemsdyk played in the Stanley Cup Final against the Blackhawks as a rookie with the Philadelphia Flyers in 2010. He has played in 25 Stanley Cup Playoff games since, none since 2013, and hasn't gotten out of the second round.

"First and foremost, I'd probably tell him you don't know if you'll ever get a chance to be back there again," James said. "It was my first year and I obviously haven't been back to play in the Final since. The key is to take full advantage of the opportunity and hopefully win a championship, but leave no stone unturned as far as his game, at least as much as he can. The other thing I'd tell him is how in playoff hockey the decision making has to be so fast, but he's a smart player so once he gets in there I'm sure he'll figure that out pretty quickly."

It's unlikely Trevor van Riemsdyk will be playing significant minutes in Game 3 given the way Quenneville has gotten this far relying so heavily on his top-four group of Duncan Keith, Brent Seabrook, Niklas Hjalmarsson and Johnny Oduya.

Being able to make his minutes count will be the challenge for Trevor, his older brother said.

"Obviously it's a different kind of tough minutes to play those minutes," James said. "When you're not playing you have to keep your legs ready, don't let them go dead on you, and you have to keep your head in the game. It's a different type of challenge from playing big minutes, but it can be hard to make sure you're effective in those chances when you get to go on the ice."

James, though, doesn't think Trevor will have any issues appreciating the moment considering the journey he has gone on to get here.

"How he's gotten to where he is now, it's pretty incredible," James said. "As a high school senior he wasn't sure if he was going to try to get a Division 1 scholarship or if he was just going to play hockey in a really good, academic Division 3 school. He decided to give it a go. He always had people in the back of him kind of doubting him and not sure about him as a player, but he also always had conviction and ability."

Trevor followed in James' footsteps and went to the University of New Hampshire, where he played for three seasons. However, his junior season was cut short because of an ankle injury in January.

Trevor still signed with the Blackhawks on March 24, 2014. He played surprisingly well in training camp and made the team. He was averaging approximately 15 minutes of ice time per game until he fractured his left patella. While rehabbing with the Rockford IceHogs in early April, Trevor sustained a right wrist injury that required surgery.

"It's been tough. I really feel for him," James said. "He's got a great head on his shoulders and between me, my other brother and my parents, we're trying to do all we can to keep him in good spirts. But again, he's a pretty happy-go-lucky guy. I'm sure there were challenging times, especially after the second injury, but he's done a great job of handling it and just making sure he's focusing on his recovery to be back and ready to go.

"I'm sure if you asked him if you could play in the Stanley Cup Final in the first year of your pro career but you'd have to miss all these games to get there, would you take that, he definitely would. We're excited to see how it all shakes out.

"I'm very proud to see what he's done, proud of all the work he's put in."


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