Kruger eager to prove he can help Blackhawks again
Marcus Kruger spent the first seven years of his career with the Blackhawks, forming lasting friendships that carry on to this day.
Rarely in the limelight, Kruger did the little things for a pair of championship teams that few fans notice but coaches truly appreciate.
He killed penalties. Took on tough defensive assignments. Centered tough, hard-nosed fourth lines. And rarely took a game off.
Last season was a difficult one for Kruger, though, as he was demoted to the AHL after scoring just 1 goal in 48 games for the Carolina Hurricanes.
Thursday, the quiet Swede learned he will get a second chance with the Hawks after being part of the trade that sent Marian Hossa, Vinnie Hinostroza and Jordan Oesterle to Arizona.
"Obviously really excited," said Kruger, who was traded to the Coyotes on May 3. "Couldn't be any more happy."
Kruger, who has one year remaining on a deal that carries a $2.775 million cap hit, should reclaim his role as the Hawks' fourth-line center. And after going through that demotion to the minors, he figures to be highly motivated.
"I can't think of a better place to come back and to show that I can play," he said. "Really excited to show that."
When he was with the Hawks, Kruger would regularly get 13-14 minutes of ice time, but he averaged just 10:50 with Carolina.
"What was wrong last year? I mean, I don't know," he said. "I wasn't playing enough …
"Obviously it was a tough year, but I think going through that I learned a lot. I just want to make sure I really prepare here and get better from it."