Blackhawks should remember Glass' story every time they hit the ice

                                                                                                                                                                                                   
  • Chicago Blackhawks center Nick Schmaltz (8) and goaltender Jeff Glass (30) defend against Winnipeg Jets center Mathieu Perreault (85) during the third period of an NHL hockey game Friday, Jan. 12, 2018, in Chicago.

    Chicago Blackhawks center Nick Schmaltz (8) and goaltender Jeff Glass (30) defend against Winnipeg Jets center Mathieu Perreault (85) during the third period of an NHL hockey game Friday, Jan. 12, 2018, in Chicago. Associated Press

 
 
Updated 1/16/2018 11:11 AM

After making 31 saves in a 2-1 victory over Winnipeg on Friday, Jeff Glass did his best to poke away his amazing storyline by saying: "It's really not about me anymore."

The 32-year-old rookie goaltender may believe that, but his save percentage in front of his locker Saturday was exactly .000 when it came to keeping two major publications from wanting to know how he persevered, stuck with it and refused to let go of his NHL dream.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

A smiling, chuckling Glass spoke for about 30 minutes, patiently answering questions about his journey, which included seven seasons playing in the KHL for six different teams.

"I spent a lot of time over in Russia where you're a long way from your family and friends and your support group," Glass told a large group of reporters on Jan. 5 before making his first start at the United Center. "Maybe games don't go your way or situations aren't the way you planned it.

"You've got to rally around that yourself. Myself, my wife, my family -- we kind of get together and you remember why you're doing all this.

"There were a few dark and gloomy days over there, but those are in the past now and I'm really excited where I'm at here.

Glass, who signed a two-year deal with the Hawks last February, is 3-2-1 with a .910 save percentage and 3.18 goals-against average since being called up from Rockford on Dec. 27. He'll be around at least until Corey Crawford returns from an upper-body injury that still has no timetable attached to it.

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That the Hawks have managed to go 5-4-1 without Crawford certainly isn't all because of Glass. Anton Forsberg has also held his own, going 2-2-0 with a .915 save percentage and 2.51 goals-against average.

This stretch easily could have sunk the Hawks' entire season. After all, that's exactly what happened to Montreal when Carey Price went down after a 17-4-2 start in 2015-16. The Canadiens went 21-34-4 the rest of the way and finished 11 points out of the playoffs.

Still, the Hawks probably should have gone 6-3-1 without Crawford, but they came out with yet another lackluster performance Sunday in a 4-0 loss to Detroit.

"Early on it's almost like we wanted it easy, and we obviously didn't play hard enough," said captain Jonathan Toews.

And that's just not going to cut it down the stretch.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

In Glass, the Hawks have a real, live underdog in their midst. Think of him as Mike Eruzione, John Scott, Michael Oher and Rudy Ruettiger all rolled into one.

His amazing story ought to inspire each and every one of them to play with passion and pride every time they step on the ice.

Not just for one game. Or two. Or three, four or five.

Every single time.

In a league where the difference in teams' talent levels are barely discernible, it's become mostly about hard work and desire.

"The most important ingredient in our game is competing," said coach Joel Quenneville on Sunday. "If you don't compete, you have no chance. Today, we had no chance."

All it should take for the Hawks to find their collective inner fires is to remember that Glass spent 12½ seasons playing in three different leagues before realizing his dream. Glance over at his locker before every game -- heck, before every period -- and let that fire build deep within.

After the Hawks practiced Saturday, Quenneville gave one of his longer answers when asked if he was amazed at Glass' path to the NHL.

"Goalies stay around so long and it's tough to get a crack and break that hole," he said. "His resilience -- give him credit. (He figured) it didn't work over in Russia, so give it a chance back here. Still wanted to play.

"Most guys might have said, 'Hey, I want to get a real job now and get on with Plan B,' But that's a testament to how competitive he is and that dream of playing in the NHL has got to be part of it. …

"His enthusiasm last year when he was around the team -- what a pro. Great teammate. … That morale part of it is noticeable."

Some nights, yes. But it needs to be every night going forward if the Hawks hope to realize their dream this season.

• Twitter: @johndietzdh

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