Lost in the hot pile of garbage that was presented to the viewing audience at the United Center and through the television screen on Friday night was a greater concern than getting blown out by a mediocre Edmonton Oilers team for the Chicago Blackhawks.
Just a couple days after losing Marian Hossa for a couple weeks, the Blackhawks may be searching for a center to replace Dave Bolland as well.
Bolland did not practice with the team on Thursday or Friday, but Quenneville maintained that each was nothing more than a “day off” for the center. But when Bolland skated only 9:45 on Friday night, and didn’t touch the ice in the third period, there became cause for concern.
Last year, Bolland played in only 39 games. He started the year in the lineup, but a bad back required surgery and Bolland went under the knife in mid-November. In 39 regular season games, Bolland put up only 16 points (six goal, 10 assists) just one year after breaking out with 47 points (19 goals, 28 assists) in 82 games.
Fans saw the value of a healthy Bolland again in the postseason, where he not only contributed on the stat sheet but also dominated the top lines from Hawks’ opponents. When healthy, Bolland is a complete hockey player.
However, considering his performances to begin this new season, and his absences this week, may lead one to believe that Bolland isn’t skating at 100 percent.
We’re hearing that Bolland’s back may again be the concern, and that he may be suffering from a herniated disc. If that’s the case, there could be another lengthy absence coming for Bolland and another blow to the Blackhawks roster. Update: Quenneville denied before Saturday night’s game that Bolland’s back was an issue. Reports are that Bolland has a rib injury.
If you read further into recent comments from coach Joel Quenneville, this may have been an issue the Hawks have known about. When 23-year-old prospect Evan Brophey was recalled to take Tomas Kopecky’s roster spot on Oct. 23, it raised some eyebrows. Quenneville said it was a “good opportunity” for the young center.
When Brophey was recalled, Kopecky was playing mostly a wing. However, as Quenneville has mixed up the lines, the Hawks have played Kopecky mostly at center. The liberal rotating at center from the Blackhawks, and NHL debuts of Brophey and Brandon Pirri, could be indications that the Blackhawks are preparing to be without Bolland.