Ryan Stanton soaked in all those Stanley Cup moments last spring.
One of the black aces called up for the postseason, the defenseman was there in Boston when the Chicago Blackhawks won the Cup in Game 6. He was on the ice after that game, hoisting the Cup. He had his day with it, too.
He got a feel for what it’s like to be part of the Blackhawks. He’d love to expand on that and earn a roster spot out of training camp. Considering the team’s depth at defenseman, however, he might not be rejoining them right away.
Stanton is taking the same approach to this camp as he has previous ones: nose to the grindstone, work his guts out and try to crack the Blackhawks roster. But the Blackhawks’ blue-line group is solid — beyond solid, actually. All six starters from last season are back. Sheldon Brookbank, who switched on and off with Michal Rozsival during the regular season before Rozsival played most of the postseason, is also back. Theo Peckham was signed this summer.
Daunting, to say the least.
“It’s definitely a pretty established group. They’re all good defensemen, and you can’t be mad at management for signing back a D corps like that that just won a Stanley Cup,” said Stanton. “But I just have to come into camp, work my hardest, try to turn some heads and make it a tough decision on them.”
Stanton had a strong season with the Rockford IceHogs in 2012-13, tallying 25 points and finishing plus-16 over 73 games. He also had 126 penalty minutes. Coach Joel Quenneville understands the battle Stanton’s in to earn a place.
“He’s in a competitive spot,” he said. “We’ve liked his development in his career. He’s another defenseman we think could play if given the chance. It looked like he belonged in practices when he came up last year. We’ll see how he plays. When you put him into an NHL game, you know you’ll be comfortable with him on the ice.”
Stanton only played one game with Chicago last season — the team’s regular-season finale in St. Louis — but he got plenty of practice time with the team during the playoffs. Even that was valuable.
“I was learning tips and tricks, practicing every day with them. It was definitely an experience; they’re All-Star D-men out there,” Stanton said. “You see what it takes to win. It was the experience of a lifetime up there and something I’ll never forget.”
Stanton will do what he can to keep his chances open and the coaches considering him. As it stands right now, it’ll be tough for him to crack the lineup. But the season’s a long one, and if he’s not on the roster to start it, he’ll be ready for that call-up.
“It’s a long season. There could be injuries or trades, who knows. I’m looking to make the team out of camp, and I’ll keep working,” Stanton said. “If it does happen, then I’ve got to make the most of it.”