SOUTH BEND, Ind. – Jimmy Hayes has become an admirer of Bryan Bickell.
The 6-foot-6, 221-pound Hayes is one of several bubble guys looking for a spot on this team. And with Bickell emerging last postseason and, as of now, earning top-line status, Hayes is looking to take over Bickell’s role as checking and physical power forward.
Hayes has had a strong start to camp and continued his work as the Blackhawks wrapped up the Notre Dame portion of their training camp on Sunday afternoon. Hayes has had a taste of NHL play before; now he’s looking to make it permanent.
“I’m just here working hard, trying to make a name for myself,” he said. “I just have to use my size and speed to my advantage.”
Yes, Hayes said speed. And he is, indeed, looking more fleet of foot this camp. Hayes said he made a concerted effort to improve his skating by improving his frame.
“I just worked on my body all summer. I worked out a lot more and harder,” he said. “I just feel like my whole fitness in general coming along. I trained pretty hard all summer to get ready for this, to give myself the best opportunity to make the team.”
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Coach Joel Quenneville approved.
“Hayes had a real good week. He’s one player who really stepped up and showed he wants to make our hockey team,” he said. “He worked at a different level this offseason. He prepared himself to be in much better shape and you can notice his quickness and drive.”
Jonathan Toews (lower body) did not practice/scrimmage on Sunday. Quenneville said Toews will skate tomorrow but will not participate in the training camp festival’s scrimmage tomorrow night at the United Center.
Brandon Pirri missed Sunday’s practices and scrimmages with an injury Quenneville said was “not serious.” He put Pirri in the Toews category: held out more for precautionary reasons.
Michal Handzus and Michal Rozsival continued to practice but have yet to scrimmage.
Not all of the Blackhawks participating in training camp will play in tomorrow night’s scrimmage. “Too many guys,” Quenneville said. “But don’t read into that (regarding cuts).”
Doors open at 5 p.m. tomorrow night for the Blackhawks’ annual training camp festival. The Stanley Cup viewing at center ice is scheduled from 5:45-6:15 p.m., with the scrimmage beginning at 7 p.m. Outside the 5K race/10K inline skate registration opens at 3 p.m. The 10K skate begins at 5:30 p.m., with the 5K starting at 6:30 p.m.