Mike Kostka could have gone anywhere during the summer as a free agent but decided to come to Chicago and try to win a job on the loaded Blackhawks defense.
Now it appears that it's down to Kostka and Ryan Stanton for the eighth and last spot on the blue line with the odds in Kostka's favor.
Hawks coach Joel Quenneville said Kostka would be in the lineup for Saturday's final exhibition game against Washington at the United Center while making no mention of Stanton.
One thing definitely in Kostka's favor is the 35 games he played with Toronto last season, where he was getting big minutes until he was sidelined by a broken finger in the first round of the playoffs against Boston.
Kostka was unaware Quenneville had said Wednesday that the plan was to keep eight defensemen.
"I didn't even hear that he had said that," Kostka said Thursday. "I don't really think about that stuff. You can't count numbers. All you can really do is worry about your performance. If there's one thing I've learned is you can never become complacent at any point in time."
Kostka thought that as a free agent he would end up on what he called a "bottom-end" team, but here he is with a chance to make it with the Stanley Cup champs.
"In all my conversations with management here I got an indication that if I did my best and put my best foot forward there would possibly be an opportunity," Kostka said. "I know there are no guarantees in this business, but it turned out to be of all the options I had this was the best one for me."
Hawks coach Joel Quenneville wants to see Kostka at least one more time.
"Sometimes there are other things to consider as well," Quenneville said. "One guy plays left, one guy plays right. Kostka had a lot of NHL games last year so sometimes you might be going a little bit on their history then what we've seen knowing they are comparable."
Stanley Cup engraved:
The Stanley Cup has been engraved with the names of all the Hawks from last season, including Jamal Mayers, Ben Smith, Daniel Carcillo and Brandon Bollig.
Mayers didn't meet the criteria to have his name on the Cup, but the Hawks petitioned the league to have him included.
Because of the shortened season, a player needed to either play in 23 regular-season games (which Carcillo did) or one game in the Final (which Smith and Bollig did).
"Good for Jamal," Joel Quenneville said. "I'm happy for him. He was a big part of our team, what he brought, his experience and leadership, his professionalism all were in the right spot."
Bollig tweeted that it was surreal to see his name on the Cup.
"To have my name on it, I honestly don't believe it," Smith said.
Hossa on target:
Marian Hossa skated for 40 minutes before practice Thursday and is on target to play in Tuesday's season opener against Washington.
"Hopefully, (Friday) he'll join our practice," Joel Quenneville said. "He felt good. It was good. He's not going to play Saturday, but we'll shoot for Tuesday."
Quenneville isn't worried about Hossa not appearing in any preseason games.
"He's skated a lot and I thought he skated well in the Notre Dame segment," Quenneville said. "He's been off for probably a week now. If he's ready he'll definitely play (Tuesday), and if he's not, we've got some time in between games."
Center Brandon Pirri will play in Saturday's last preseason game against the Capitals.
"Pirri's going to play," Joel Quenneville said. "He really hasn't played enough to really give him a fair assessment.
"There are still a couple decisions we have to make. Whether it's them showing us how bad they want to play in our league and on our team, they're doing whatever it takes to get there."