Chicago, IL — The Hawks recalled Phillip Danault from the Rockford IceHogs late this week with Andrew Shaw being injured and Patrick Sharp finally put on LTIR there was a spot that opened up for a forward and Phillip Danault got the call.
I have to admit I am a little partial to Danault. The first time I saw Danault on the ice was back in July of 2012 at the Blackhawks prospect camp. From the moment Danault skated onto the ice the kid had a smile on his face that just would not leave. Immediately you could sense his amour de la vie (love of life) and his passion pour le jeu as the French would say or his love of the game. His enthusiasm and passion made those watching put a smile on their face just witnessing his pure joy of playing the game. That was my first and constant impression of Phillip Danault.
To hear him describe himself to reporters and BHTV as being able to bring his energy and passion pretty much sums up the intangibles of Danault’s game and what separates him from other hockey players. This fire and hunger to play maybe the missing ingredient the Blackhawks have been lacking.
Don’t get me wrong I love all the Hawks but this year they have looked a little stale and bored with playing in some of the games which is only natural when you have 82 games and some not so thrilling opponents to get through. We all know the regular season is a grind but you have to get through this to make the playoffs. Danault brings life, energy, fire, that je ne sais quoi the Hawks have been missing.
There is a relentlessness to Danault’s game and intensity that is unyielding and a passion that is contagious which, maybe just what the Blackhawks need right now. It’s perfect that he is joining the team on the circus trip with more time to bond with the boys and hopefully they will catch some of Danault’s fire.
The tangibles and hockey skills that Danault will bring are also what the Hawks have failed to demonstrate on a consistent basis. He brings a commitment to the small details of the game and a responsible two way game. Let’s face it other than Jonathan Toews and Marcus Kruger at the center position the Hawks could use this at the center position.
Danault when he was with the Hawks in preseason this year I believe consistently was over the 70% mark in face offs won. For a team that likes and wants the puck this alone makes Danault a valuable addition. Even if Danault is put on the wing he can always come in to take face offs when/where need be and isn’t that nice to know as a coaching staff you have someone to relay on who more times than not will get you the puck.
Danault is also an excellent skater with great balance and we all know how much the Hawks love their fast skaters so there should be no problem with Danault fitting in and keeping up with any line he is on. His fore-check skills and patience with the puck is also top notch. His intensity along the boards is something you notice right away. Phillip Danault, never repeat never, gives up on a play or the puck in any of the zones. If in the rare instance he loses the puck he battles to get it back- ala Marian Hossa.
Danault is getting the opportunity because he has played well for the Rockford IceHogs this year. In 14 games he has 10 points (3G/7A) but more importantly he is a +6. Yes he is an excellent penalty killer which would be nice if the Hawks could rotate him in with Kruger, Smith, Toews & Hossa to give them a rest especially Hossa. The Hawks need to keep him as fresh as they can for a long run into the playoffs and Danault would be a perfect reliever on the PK.
Even though Danault is primarily known for his defensive skills and work ethic he is also an excellent passer and puck distributor. Late last year in Rockford he and Ryan Hartman were burning up the opposition. This year, his line with Mark McNeill and Garrett Ross has been doing the same thing with the IceHogs. Danault is not afraid to go to the net which is definitely something most teams can use and especially the Hawks.
Danault will make his debut with the Hawks tonight against a young, skilled Edmonton Oilers team that should make for an interesting game with all the speed and youthful energy and skill out on the ice. I can’t think of a better team for Danault to be making his NHL debut against.
Show them what you got kid, play your game with that Phillip Danault flare and everything will be fine. Go live your dream kid.
Oh and Allons-y Hawks!!!