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updated: 4/5/2013 9:02 PM

Saad has a lot in common with ex-Hawk Secord

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  • Brandon Saad has 8 goals and 21 points through 36 games this season. He is a leading candidate to win the Calder Trophy, given to the NHL rookie of the year.

      Brandon Saad has 8 goals and 21 points through 36 games this season. He is a leading candidate to win the Calder Trophy, given to the NHL rookie of the year.
    Associated Press

 
 

Brandon Saad wasn't even born when Al Secord scored 54 goals in 1982-83 as part of the Blackhawks' famed line with Denis Savard and Steve Larmer.

"I don't know who that is, sorry," Saad said.

Kids.

Secord was only one of the greatest left wingers in franchise history -- big, strong, fast and with gifted hands, like Saad.

Secord also wore No. 20.

There are times when I'll look down, see No. 20, and think of Secord -- times like Thursday against St. Louis when Saad backed into the open ice and quickly snapped a pass from Jonathan Toews past goalie Brian Elliott.

Secord, who is now a pilot with American Airlines, scored 213 goals in two stints with the Hawks, spanning 466 games. He was one of the toughest players of his era, something Hawks coach Joel Quenneville remembers from their battles that started in juniors.

"Secord was tough, not that Saad isn't tough," Quenneville said. "I played against Al my whole career starting in junior days in Hamilton and throughout the NHL. I think Al probably had more of a reputation because he was more of a fighter. That goes along with his skill. Both guys patrol that side and both can score with a big upside offensively. I think Al might have been more physical."

With 4 goals in the last three games and 16 points in his last 14 games, Saad is making a late push for the Caldar Trophy, which is awarded annually to the NHL's rookie of the year.

This is a guy who started the season in the press box at Staples Center watching Daniel Carcillo skate at left wing on the top line with Jonathan Toews and Marian Hossa against Los Angeles.

Carcillo hurt his knee in that first game, opening the door for Saad.

"I just wanted to make the team," Saad said. "With Carcillo getting hurt there I got a chance to play and I've tried to make the best of it. Just being up here was my No. 1 priority.

"I knew once I first made the team and made the trip, I knew I was the 14th forward or one of those and not playing the first game. I was just going to enjoy the experience and be ready when I stepped in. We had meeting at the start of the year and Coach Q told me to be ready because you never know what could happen. I was just trying to stay ready and be prepared to play. I just wanted to do my best to stay up here."

Saad has 8 goals and 21 points playing with Toews and Hossa. There are those who suggest he has an advantage for the Calder playing with two of the biggest stars in the game, but those same people forget that Saad does a lot of the dirty work and has the talent to stay with Toews and Hossa.

"It's been huge for me to play with the guys I've been playing with," Saad said. "We have a great team and I just try to contribute by working hard, going to the net and getting chances there."

Quenneville has moved players around from line to line but seems to like the chemistry between Saad with Toews.

"He's been very useful for us," Quenneville said. "From the outset he's basically had the chance to play with Tazer and Hoss and that line has been very effective.

"His production of late has progressed to reflect the way he has been playing. His size, puck protection, recognition of play through offensive time in the zone has been high end. He has good instincts on both sides of the puck."

• Follow Tim's hockey reports on Twitter @TimSassone and check out his Between the Circles blog at dailyherald.com.

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