Blackhawks notes: Jason Dickinson’s leadership recognized with ‘A’
Dickinson was the alternate captain Tuesday against the Oilers and again Thursday against the Kraken. Seth Jones’ injury has led to a bigger workload for Alex Vlasic, too.
SEATTLE — With Seth Jones absent for the Blackhawks’ two-game road trip, forward Jason Dickinson donned an “A” on his jersey instead, temporarily joining Nick Foligno and Connor Murphy as the three alternate captains.
“It’s a huge honor that they trust me to wear it,” Dickinson said. “I don’t think it changes anything in my approach. I try to be a leader without the letter. There’s a number of guys in this room that could’ve worn it. But it’s a great honor. I’m appreciative they recognize the leadership that I bring.”
Added coach Luke Richardson: “He’s shown that he deserves it [based on] the way he’s played and his leadership, talking on the bench [during] the timeouts.”
Dickinson’s intelligence is an asset in the locker room, where he has established a clear niche in his 1½ years since coming over from Vancouver. Foligno recently mentioned him as somebody who has stepped up leadership-wise since Corey Perry’s departure.
He’s enjoying a career year on the ice, too. Entering Thursday’s game against the Kraken, he had already tied his career high of nine goals — with two-thirds of the season left. Those nine goals ranked second on the team, behind Connor Bedard (12) and ahead of Philipp Kurashev and Tyler Johnson (six each).
It’s the defensive zone where Dickinson typically makes his biggest impacts, though. Linemate Joey Anderson recently raved about his defensive responsibility.
“I don’t think people understand how many small things he picks up on out there,” Anderson said. “If anything breaks down, he picks up on it. He covers up a lot of mistakes. Things could get bad really quick if he wasn’t on top of everything.
“[It’s remarkable] the way he navigates the ice and the way he adapts to plays, and he does it at such a rapid speed. . . . He sees things at game pace, if not faster than that, and he’s on top of it before it happens.”
Vlasic’s big workload
Young defenseman Alex Vlasic led the Hawks with 24:58 of ice time Tuesday against the Oilers, falling just a few seconds short of the career high he set Dec. 5. That increased his season ice-time average above the 20-minute threshold.
With Jones, Kevin Korchinski and Jarred Tinordi all out again Thursday, Vlasic continued operating as the team’s No. 1 defenseman, even quarterbacking the top power-play unit.
Despite Vlasic’s inexperience, Richardson feels comfortable giving him such a big workload because he trusts him to speak up when he’s too tired.
“At the end of the second period [Tuesday] on the penalty kill, [assistant coach Kevin Dean] asked him if he was OK [to go back out],” Richardson said. “He was honest; he said no. Some players will just go back out there, but then you’re putting your team in detriment. So he’s smart enough to know when to say he needs a rest.”
The Hawks were scheduled to practice Wednesday, and they were looking forward to it. It was to be just their fourth practice in a 20-day span because of the frequency of games.
Things went awry, however, when their plane from Edmonton was forced to divert to Portland, Oregon, at 2 a.m. because of foggy conditions in Seattle.
The international nature of the flight complicated things further, preventing the team from disembarking in Portland. After hours on the tarmac, they were eventually able to fly and land in Seattle around 7 a.m., at which point everyone was far too exhausted to practice.