Blackhawks looking forward to “good reunion” with Johnny Oduya

CHICAGO, IL - JUNE 08: Johnny Oduya #27 of the Chicago Blackhawks in action against the Tampa Bay Lightning during Game Three of the 2015 NHL Stanley Cup Final at the United Center on June 8, 2015 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

by Scott King
@ScottKingMedia

Tuesday evening Blackhawks GM Stan Bowman worked some more of his trade deadline magic in acquiring former Hawks defenseman Johnny Oduya from the Dallas Stars in exchange for prospect Mark McNeill and a conditional fourth round draft pick.

Oduya won two Stanley Cups with Chicago (2013 and 2015), but the Swedish blue-liner has been sidelined with a lower-body injury on and off in Dallas and has only played in 37 games this season. He had seven points and a +/- rating of -2 in Dallas this year.

When he spoke with reporters on Wednesday at the United Center, Oduya was thrilled to come back to Chicago.

“I’m excited, but it’s always tough to leave a situation [like] we had in Dallas,” Oduya said. “A tough year I think for everybody, you feel some of that disappointment.

“I’m really excited. It’s time to put everything on the line and have some fun. Coming right in, in the middle of a season, there’s always a little bit of an adjustment.

“I think it’ll be fairly quick, of course, here. [Will] just try to talk to the players and the coaching staff as much as I can and get up to speed with whatever is going on. I want to learn and get better and try to play my style of hockey. I know there’s a lot of work to be done and I don’t take anything for granted.”

The Hawks’ newest, sorta, defenseman said he got a special welcome back gesture when he landed in Chicago.

“Coming into the airport, picking up my bag from the baggage claim, there was a little note saying ‘welcome back’ from the guys working there. Little things like that are very, very special. As a player, you feel very humbled and it’s a fun thing.”

“Johnny was a huge part of our hockey team when we won the cups,” said Hawks winger Marian Hossa of the acquisition. “It’s nice to have a player like that back. He’s a really likable person in the dressing room and a really big minutes-eater on the ice. He’s great on the penalty [kill] and in the defensive zone. Love to see the guy back on our team.”

“I think we’re all excited,” said Oduya’s former roommate and fellow Swede Marcus Kruger. “We know what we [get] from Johnny, Johnny probably knows what to expect for him. We’re lucky to have him back. He’s excited, we’re excited. it feels good.

“When he was here last time, I think we had some good stretches on the penalty kill. He was a big part of that. He takes a lot of pride in doing that.”

Blackhawks head coach Joel Quenneville updated the media on when to expect Oduya on the ice:

“He gets in later on today. He’s not playing tonight, but looking forward to getting him on the ice, making sure that coming off his injury he’s more than ready to go. Happy to have him, his old teammates are excited as well. It’s a good reunion in a lot of ways. We like the experience, been there and done that before.”

Battle of the Captains

The Pittsburgh Penguins take on the Blackhawks at the United Center Wednesday night at 7 pm.

One of today’s biggest hockey debates has been ‘Would you rather have Sidney Crosby or Jonathan Toews?’

Marian Hossa thinks there’s a unique competitiveness between the two.

“I believe so,” Hossa said. “Maybe we don’t see it, but I think there is a little competitiveness, who can be a little bit on top of the other. I think it’s fun, it’s great for hockey. Two big names facing each other, it’s always fun for people.”

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