Theres a vibe going through the Chicago Blackhawks locker room with the arrival of rookies Jimmy Hayes and Andrew Shaw. Its an energy, an exuberance that the young upstart guys have provided.
And as the Blackhawks trudge through the toughest part of this long NHL season, its an energy level they appreciate having.
Sometimes, between games 40 and 60 its such a long period of time. Now all of a sudden we have the new blood, Marian Hossa said. Theyve brought something, a little life to our team again. And you can tell right now. Were rolling four lines and you feel the energy.
When teams reach this point of the season, it can drag a bit. Its not the first 20 games, when everyones excited to start the new campaign. Its not the final 20, when everyones gearing up and pushing for the playoffs. Its the middle of the season, when finding the energy, especially mentally, is a bit trickier.
So enter the rookies, who are damn happy to be here every day. Shaw said it himself on Wednesday night: he and Hayes dont want to get reassigned. Theyre living the dream, and the excitement theyre feeling is resonating through the locker room.
Especially at this time of the year, injecting these guys in your lineup you get an energy and an enthusiasm in practice that keeps everybody young, coach Joel Quenneville said. I think its easy to add that type of element to your team. You could use it right now and I think you notice it as well.
The veteran players are noticing it, too.
This is a tough part of the year; were not quite at the end of the season, were past the beginning and its always a grind. But certainly in the tight race were in, in the Central Division and Western Conference, that energy keeps us on our toes, Jamal Mayers said.
What Hayes and Shaw have brought on the ice has certainly been noticed. The exuberant attitude theyve brought to practices, skates and to the locker room is welcomed, too.
Its contagious, Mayers said. Thats what young guys are supposed to bring: the excitement of being in the NHL. And you can see it in their eyes. Theyre not just happy to be here, but theyve got that excitement and theyve realized their dream to be here. Thats infectious.