LaBarbera happy to be a Hawk
Jason LaBarbera has always played well against the Blackhawks, owning a career record of 4-1-0 against them. Now he's excited about possibly playing for the two-time Stanley Cup champs.
LaBarbera, acquired from Edmonton on Dec. 14 for future considerations, knew it was only a matter of time before he was dealt. When he found out it was to the first-place Hawks it was icing on the cake.
"I figured something would happen, but I didn't know how, when, where, why, who," LaBarbera said. "I had no idea. I knew something was going to happen. I just didn't know how it was going to play out.
"To go from one extreme to another, it's exciting for sure to come to an organization like this and a room like this with this group of people."
The Hawks are the sixth different team for LaBarbera. He will back up Antti Raanta until Corey Crawford returns from what is believed to be a groin injury, but that's fine with him.
"It's obviously a good opportunity," LaBarbera said. "I mean, just look around the room and see what these guys have done the last few years. Playing against them I know what they're all about. I'm just happy to be on this side.
"It was always fun to play against them and a challenge. They came hard. Now to be on this side and to see how they play, their structure and everything they're about, there's a reason why they've won two Cups over the last few years. There are a lot of good leaders here and a lot of smart people. I'm just excited to learn from these guys and to be a part of it."
Hawks coach Joel Quenneville doesn't know when of if LaBarbera will get a start.
"I think he gives some us some experiences and he's played in the league and some depth in the position there," Quenneville said. "With Antti being new and a couple young kids down in Rockford, our organization got a little thin with both (Crawford and Nikolai Khabibulin) being out. That's what he brings us. We'll see along the way when we can get him in."
Injured goalie Corey Crawford resumed skating this week and is expected to return to practice after Christmas.
Crawford has been sidelined since suffering a groin injury against Florida on Dec. 9.
"He skated again today," Quenneville said after Friday's morning skate. "Both light days yesterday and today, and he's progressing. We're probably looking with him (to practice with the team) more so after the holidays."
The Hawks won't rush Crawford back, especially with Antti Raanta playing so well.
"When you're ready to play, you're ready to play, whether it's goalies or up front," Quenneville said. "You've got to pass certain hurdles to get clearance. Once you're there, let's get ready, and they're usually ready."
Change of pace:
Normally it's the other way around. In the past, Joel Quenneville has reunited Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane on the same line whenever one of the two needed to get his game going.
But Kane's game has taken off since Quenneville split them up after about the first month of the season.
"I just think when those two guys got separated there it gave us a little more balance to our lineup," Quenneville said. "Whether it's coverage, problems for our opponents or it frees up Jonny, it gives the opposition a little more to be concerned with and that opens things up a bit."
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