Blackhawks' Ryan Garbutt ready for emotional return to Dallas


Ryan Garbutt is expecting the emotions on Tuesday.

The Blackhawks forward will be back in Dallas, back where he got his NHL opportunity after working through the minors for several years.

“I mean, they’re the team that gave me my first shot, and I’ll definitely have some emotions going back there,” he said of the Stars. “It’s a tough building to play in, and I’m just going to have to put that aside and worry about the game.”

There will be much ado entering Tuesday’s game against the Stars, mainly because it’ll be against former Blackhawks Patrick Sharp and Johnny Oduya. But it also means something for Garbutt, who’s recently found his way back into the Blackhawks’ lineup.

Garbutt’s been back on the Blackhawks’ fourth line the past three games — with Andrew Desjardins and Phillip Danault the last two outings — and will likely be in that spot on Tuesday. Coach Joel Quenneville said Garbutt’s speed and tenacity have been assets in finding some stability on that line.

“He’s dangerous on loose puck races, gets in on the forecheck and can be disruptive in areas there,” Quenneville said. “In the offensive zone, I think that line was effective for the first time together. It keeps them on their heels and gives you a threat offensively with that line.”

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Garbutt’s gone up and down the Blackhawks’ lineup. He’s had a few stints on the top line as well as the fourth line. Not long ago, he was a healthy scratch for three games. But Garbutt isn’t thrown by the constant changes; he said Lindy Ruff was much like Quenneville in that regard.

“He plays the guys who are playing well, and if you’re not playing well, change up the lines or take you out of the lineup,” Garbutt said of Ruff. “So in terms of that, it’s pretty similar.”

Garbutt said he shrugs off the scratches quickly, too.

“That’s one of the things I’ve had to deal with my whole career. When you come up a little bit older like I did, you come to realize you can’t sweat the small stuff like that,” he said. “You get your chance to go back in, you play as hard as you can and don’t worry about the past.”

This going-back-to-Dallas story had another character up until last week. Trevor Daley, who came to Chicago with Garbutt in the trade that sent Sharp to Dallas, was sent to the Pittsburgh Penguins last week.

“It was definitely a bit of a surprise, especially with how training camp went. It just seemed like he fit in so well here,” Garbutt said of Daley. “It was tough to see but one of those things that happens in pro sports, and you have to move on. I wish him all the best in Pittsburgh.”

Garbutt took a longer road to the NHL and is grateful to the Stars for the opportunity they gave him. But now it’s about the Blackhawks and the thrill of playing in Chicago.

“Sometimes you sit back and think about it. But I’ve always been the type of guy where I haven’t dwelled on the past. I just focus on the next day, and here it’s just coming to the rink to play every game and having fun,” Garbutt said. “I mean, there’s nothing more fun than playing at the Madhouse on Madison. I enjoy coming to the rink every day and playing in this city.”

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