Blackhawks defenseman Niklas Hjalmarsson has been a force blocking shots around the net and on the penalty-kill all season. His ability to return to the ice so quickly after taking a speeding puck to the ankle has amazed fans and foes alike.
But even in a sport where a player’s ability to shake off searing pain should be ranked on the stat sheet right after assists, shot after shot to Hjalmarsson’s various components have taken their toll. He was dropped off at a local body shop during a recent Hawks day off.
“He was starting to squeak pretty loudly in reverse,” said coach Joel Quenneville. “We’ve been looking around for the right place to take him for a little while, since he’s a pretty rare import.”
While most of the work done on Hjalmarsson was cosmetic, some mechanical issues were looked into. The Hawks recently paid top-dollar for the Swedish skater and are taking care to protect the value of their investment.
“Hammer makes a lot of noise when you first get him going in the morning,” said teammate Brian Campbell. “I think it’s just overuse. We’ll get him some rest soon. Hopefully not too soon, though.”
By Dan Bradley