Jokiharju back with Blackhawks after winning world juniors with Finland
Defenseman Henri Jokiharju returned Monday to the Chicago Blackhawks as he was recalled from the Finnish national junior team.
Jokiharju helped Finland to a gold medal in the recent world junior championships, with 2 goals and 3 assists. He was not in the lineup Monday night as the Blackhawks took on the Calgary Flames at the United Center.
"He's here, he skated this morning, and good to see him," said Hawks coach Jeremy Colliton. "He had a good two weeks, and big emotions, obviously, on the weekend. I'm sure they had a little fun. And we'll get him in ASAP here."
Jokiharju, 19, last played for the Hawks on Dec. 16. He said the experience of playing for his country was a good one.
"It was awesome," he said. "There was some ups and downs with the team, but we just figured out how to win the right games."
Although the Blackhawks currently are out of a playoff position, Colliton said a winning experience such as the world championships can be good for a young player.
"It's exactly what we were hoping for when we sent him," the coach said. "Played huge minutes, went half the game. It's a high-pressure situation, he's playing for his country and he (came) through. Even just talking to him this morning, he's (got) great energy, really excited and just happy for him."
Jokiharju agreed with his coach and said the gold medal was a big deal in his home country.
"I think it's big for my confidence," he said. "I think everyone on that team -- I was talking with some younger guys over there, I was like come on, it's your draft year, come on. Everyone was happy. Big confidence boost for everyone, for me, as well.
"A couple days ago it didn't feel that big, but the players now in Finland and (the) Finnish country is going crazy, so it's awesome seeing. You feel it more right now, a couple days after, and it's a huge thing for Finland."
Colliton did not say what move would be made when Jokiharju comes back or if it would affect the defensive pairings. He said he does like the tandem of Duncan Keith and Erik Gustafsson working together.
"I think they've been really good for a while," Colliton said. "So that's a good option, but nothing's set in stone."
One more for Dennis Hull:
The Blackhawks honored former left wing Dennis Hull as part of their "One More Shift" promotion Monday. Hull, the younger brother of Hall of Famer Bobby Hull, joined the team on the ice for the national anthem wearing his No. 10 Hawks jersey.
Like his brother, Dennis Hull possessed one of the harder shots in hockey. A veteran of 14 NHL seasons, he appeared in 959 career regular-season games, scoring 654 points (303 goals). He played 13 seasons with the Blackhawks (1964-77), compiling 640 points (298 goals) in 904 games, the eighth-most games played in a Blackhawks uniform. His 298 goals with the team are the seventh-most in franchise history.
Marking a milestone:
Monday marked the 30th game of the season for Jeremy Colliton, who took over Nov. 6 after Joel Quenneville was fired. Colliton was 10-15-4 in his first 29 games.
"I have to be getting better every game," he said. "That's what I need to do. I hope I continue to get better. Even, hopefully I'm still doing this in a few years, but certainly I'm challenging the players to be better every night, so I got to also."
One thing Colliton said he did not do is watch himself in "Road to the Winter Classic."
"Hopefully I'm cut out as much as possible," he said.