Ryan Hartman used the term “learning experience” five times on Wednesday while describing his rookie season. He learned how to be a productive player on the ice. He learned how to be a professional off the ice. And he learned lots of little things that only experience can teach, like what you can and can’t get away with in a game, how to work within the confines of Joel Quenneville’s system, and not to punch Dan Hamhuis in the head repeatedly in late March. “Another learning experience,” Hartman said with a sheepish laugh. “Don’t fight that close to the playoffs, I guess, right?” Hartman injured his wrist in that fight in Dallas on March 23, and it clearly affected him during the Blackhawks’ all-too-brief playoff series against the Nashville Predators. Hartman had just two shots on goal over the first three games of the four-game sweep, and played a measly 8:36 in Game 3 as his play deteriorated. Hartman’s rookie season was a microcosm of the entire Hawks’ campaign. He far exceeded any reasonable expectations going into the season, yet was banged-up for the playoffs and came up empty when it mattered most. Hartman, expected to be a bottom-six grinder with a penchant for penalties, scored 19 goals and showed versatility and restraint. The Hawks, expected to deal with growing pains with six or seven rookies in the lineup most nights, won 50 games. But everyone has something to prove after the first-round flameout. “No one was happy with it,” Hartman said. “We come in [to the new season] with a little anger and a little motivation to know that we’ve got a lot to prove. We want to come into the first half of the season and make everyone forget about that.” That motivation prompted Hartman to get back on the ice earlier than usual this summer, even sacrificing his annual vacation to his native Hilton Head, S.C. One wrinkle he added to his offseason program was attending Darryl Belfry’s skills camp with the likes of Patrick Kane, Nick Schmaltz, Auston Matthews, Claude Giroux and Jack Eichel, in an attempt to nurture his burgeoning offensive skills.
After playoff flameout, Ryan Hartman enters camp with ‘a little anger’
Chicago Sun-Times | Sep 20