Leaving Hawks stings, but Hinostroza 'excited' to join up-and-coming Coyotes
That was definitely one of the first emotions that hit Vinnie Hinostroza when Stan Bowman told him that he'd been traded to the Arizona Coyotes last week.
But Hinostroza -- a Bartlett native whom the Blackhawks drafted, groomed and developed into a speedy, potential top-six forward -- also had another problem.
"I was in the process of buying a house," Hinostroza said after playing on Jonathan Toews' team in the Chicago Pro Hockey League at MB Ice Arena on Wednesday. "So my first thought was hopefully I can get out of that."
Such is the life of the pro athlete -- you just never know when something is going to completely change the course of your life.
"I didn't think it would happen but always knew it could," said Hinostroza, who was able to get out of the real-estate purchase. "At first, yeah, it was kind of a shock. But I'm really excited to be on a young, up-and-coming team."
Bowman had tried to unload Marian Hossa's $5.275 million cap hit since Hossa informed the Hawks that a skin condition would keep him out of the 2017-18 campaign. Bowman found a willing partner in Arizona, but GM John Chayka was adamant that Hinostroza be part of the deal.
"He plays at a super high pace, one of the highest paces in the league," Chayka said in a conference call last week. "He's skilled, he's smart and he reads the play extremely well. He gets out in open ice and he makes a lot of things happen."
Bowman took a chance on Hinostroza in the sixth round of the 2012 draft. He spent two years at Notre Dame, scored 18 goals in 66 games for Rockford in 2015-16 and cracked the Hawks' lineup 49 times the next season.
Last year, Hinostroza was one of the last roster cuts out of training camp, but was called up after an impressive two months in the minors. Right away Hinostroza showed he probably should have been in the NHL all season as he scored 3 goals and had 6 assists in his first 12 games.
He finished with 7 goals and 18 assists in 50 games.
"He really probably brought more than we even expected," Bowman said. "Being a local kid, it's tough (to lose him). A Notre Dame grad, we (both) have that connection. …
"But we tried to make that deal work in every other way possible, but they obviously said he had to be in it. We wish Vinnie the best. He's got a long career ahead of him."
Hinostroza said he's going to remember everything about being a Blackhawk.
"Everyone that's helped me," he said. "It's been six years since I've been drafted and I think I've taken steps every year. Went to college, went to the AHL, came up here. Every coach, every staff member, every player has helped me out. I won't forget them for sure."
Hinostroza is heading to an Arizona squad that hasn't qualified for the playoffs since 2012, but the Coyotes seem to be on the rise as they:
• Went 16-9-2 down the stretch last season.
• Signed defensemen Oliver Ekman Larsson to an eight-year deal and Niklas Hjalmarsson to a two-year extension on July 2.
• Signed free-agent forward Michael Grabner (54 goals last two seasons) to a three-year deal.
• Gave up very little to acquire Hinostroza and Jordan Oesterle.
It obviously won't be easy for Hinostroza to leave good friends like Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane and Nick Schmaltz behind. Still, he's determined to turn the page and help make Arizona a winner.
"I became good friends with all the guys I've played with the past few years," Hinostroza said. "I'm going to miss them.
"But I've heard nothing but good things (about Arizona) and I'm really excited to create new friendships and new chemistry."