Hawks' Smith looking to build off good day

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Hawks' Smith looking to build off good day

Ben Smith stood at his locker on Monday, a smile on his face.

"I felt pretty good," said Smith. "It's just as it's been all along. I'm just seeing day in and day out how it's going."

Welcome to dealing with a concussion. Smith will take days like Monday, when he's able to skate and at least take part in the non-contact drills. He has yet to be cleared for contact but he's hoping the recovery continues.

"It's nice to get him on the ice," coach Joel Quenneville said. "If he practices a couple more days in a row then maybe we'll get an indication. Things have been better the last few days."

Things were up and down last week for Smith, who suffered his concussion on Sept. 28. He skated with the team early last week, then was off the ice by the end of it. The term "part of the process" was used to describe Smith's status heading into last weekend, which sounded like the forward had a setback.

"It's just part of the way things are with concussions. You never know," Smith said. "The best-case scenario is to be cautious."

Smith is handling the situation well, probably because he realizes he has no choice. There's no such thing as rushing back from these anymore, no just telling the coach, 'Hey, I'm fine,' and you're back in the lineup. Talking to the doctors, telling them how he feels, clearing the tests: that's the protocol, and Smith will take all the time he needs to get there.

Still, like any other player devoted to the game, Smith has a lot of pride. Here's a player who didn't miss one game in his college career. He admits he took pride in that. So sitting right now isn't fun.

"It's tough watching games. But you can't mess with your head," he said. "Arms and legs are different. You want to be 100 percent when you come back and that's what I'm working toward. I'm just trying to get back."

Smith's also talking plenty with Dave Bolland, who missed a month last spring with his own concussion. Bolland, who has talked several times about how hard those recovery weeks were, spoke with Smith when both did not travel to Dallas last week.

"He said, 'Hey, take your time, make sure you're 100 percent,'" Smith recalled. "You've seen how he's come back from these type of things. Obviously he's been doing the right things to be back. That's definitely someone I listen to."

Smith will heed all advice, diagnoses and test results. He has no choice. He just hopes to build off days like Monday.

Briefly

Corey Crawford was given a day off on Monday. Crawford has a slight groin injury but Quenneville said the goaltender should be back practicing on Tuesday. Niles resident Scotty Czarnik, who played club hockey at Arizona State but is transferring to Illinois State, was the Blackhawks' No. 2 goaltender at Monday's practice.

Daniel Carcillo skated on a line with Patrick Kane and Marian Hossa on Monday. Whether he's with that group long or not, Carcillo will make his regular-season Blackhawks debut on Thursday when they host the Winnipeg Jets.

Viktor Stalberg (left knee) skated by himself on Monday and could rejoin the Blackhawks practices Tuesday or Wednesday.

Tracey Myers is CSNChicago.com's Blackhawks Insider. Follow Tracey on Twitter @TramyersCSN for up-to-the-minute Hawks information

Hawks Talk Podcast: Blackhawks' bottom six steps up in Colorado

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AP

Hawks Talk Podcast: Blackhawks' bottom six steps up in Colorado

On the latest Hawks Talk Podcast, Pat Boyle and Jamal Mayers discuss the bottom six carrying the Blackhawks to a come-from-behind win over the Colorado Avalanche on Tuesday night.

Later, Mayers weighs in on possible targets with the NHL trade deadline just six weeks away.

Listen to the latest episode of the Hawks Talk Podcast below:

Playing close to home a special experience for Hartman, Hinostroza families

Playing close to home a special experience for Hartman, Hinostroza families

DENVER – When Ryan Hartman went to Michigan at age 16 to play with the U.S. National Development team, his father Craig moved the whole family there, too. Craig wanted Ryan to stay close with his brother, who’s several years younger.

The move was worthwhile, but not easy. Craig traveled back and forth to Chicago for his work, and the stay in Michigan, originally expected to be two years, turned into four when Ryan played for the Plymouth Whalers.

Now when the Hartmans want to see Ryan, whether it was Rockford last season or Chicago this season, it’s less than an hour away from their West Dundee home.

“Either transition’s been great because I’ve been seeing him a lot, taking care of his dog when he’s on the road,” Craig said. “It’s pretty cool when he comes and sees his little brother play hockey. It’s pretty amazing to have him home. If he’s in any other city, he’d be gone. It’s special to have him here.”

For many of the fathers currently on the Blackhawks’ dads trip, this excursion is one of maybe a handful of times they’ll get to see their sons play in a season. But for Craig Hartman and Rick Hinostroza, Vinnie Hinostroza’s dad, their sons play for the hometown team. They get to see them at least half of the season. And for both of them, it’s an incredible feeling.

“It’s pretty unbelievable to be able to just drive, depending on how traffic is, it could take us a little over an hour to get there. But just to be able to be home in 35 minutes and we get to sit and talk to him after a game or go out to dinner, things like that,” Rick Hinostroza said. “It’s really nice, and we’ll take it as long as we can.”

Craig and Rick are also enjoying their first dads trip, which began in Denver and now goes to Boston. Ryan Hartman said it’s been a great experience for him and his father.

“It’s my first year here and [it’s a chance] for him to be able to see what we go through on the road, so he has a better idea of what I’m doing when I’m gone all the time. I’m sure it’s good for him to be here and see that,” Hartman said. “And just being on the road with him, it’s a cool experience. I’m glad to have him here.”

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Vinnie Hinostroza said this was the first hockey trip he’d been on with his dad since his midget hockey days.

“It’s so special to bring him along, where he used to bring me and pay for the hotels and everything. It’s nice he gets to enjoy this,” Hinostroza said. “It’s special for us to have them here. They sacrifice so much for us growing up, taking us on hockey trips.”

Rick Hinostroza got his first taste of how his son travels on this trip. The elder Hinostroza was impressed, from the charter jet to the hospitality that wasn’t the usual commercial-flight can of soda and bag of pretzels.

“The attendants going back and forth, asking if I wanted something to eat and here you have this list, a choice of all this stuff. I’m used to the attendant coming around with the cart and you get what you get when you get it,” he said. “To be exposed to that and see just how the organization treats the families and players, it’s pretty neat. It’s really surreal.”

But as important as playing in hometown Chicago is for Hartman and Hinostroza’s parents, it means so much to the players as well.

“It’s a blessing, really, having them so close,” said Ryan, who sees his younger brother play hockey whenever he can. “It’s nice. You don’t have to plan a trip for them to come and you don’t have to be waiting for the next time you’re going to see them. Sometimes there are off days when I go home and relax with them. It’s definitely nice to have.”

The latest Blackhawks’ dads trip will end this weekend. Most of the fathers will head back to their respective homes, most of which are a good distance from Chicago. For the Hartmans and Hinostrozas, the return to Chicago means being back home and continuing to live the dream of watching their sons play here.

“I’ve gotten to meet a lot of fathers and having a nice time,” Craig Hartman said. “It’s fantastic. Growing up in the city – I was born probably about 15 blocks from the UC – being part of this and having my kid play with the Blackhawks, it’s crazy.”