Zawaski: Why The Blackhawks Sent Marko Dano To Rockford

By Jay Zawaski–

(CBS) Marko Dano was sent down to AHL Rockford. But why?

When the Blackhawks shocked the hockey world by trading Brandon Saad to the Columbus Blue Jackets this summer, many observers thought then-20-year-old winger Marko Dano was the centerpiece of the trade. Since then, it’s been Artem Anisimov who has shined, while Dano has shuffled in and out of the lineup and between Chicago and Rockford.

On Friday, the Blackhawks announced that they had once again demoted Dano to the AHL affiliate.

You’re not alone in asking, “Why?” The Hawks are offensively challenged, and that’s when Dano’s potential lies.

But the Blackhawks don’t feel they are tough enough as a team and could be seeking an upgrade in that department, according to a source in the organization.

So what does that mean? Are the Blackhawks looking to acquire an enforcer? Not necessarily.

The toughness the Hawks are seeking comes from willingness to battle for pucks along the boards and play in front of the net. They feel that’s the kind of toughness they lack. That’s why Bryan Bickell was recalled and why Brandon Mashinter remains in Chicago while more skilled players like Dano, Tanner Kero and others toil away in Rockford.

As for Dano, his numbers and play have been ordinary. In his 13 games with the big club, Dano has only recorded two points. Those stats are reflective of his play. He’s been ordinary at best, regardless of his linemates.

That said, Dano is still a very good prospect. He just turned 21 on Nov. 30 and should still be a solid NHL player. There’s no reason to believe in him any less than you did the day he was acquired. If the Hawks want to maximize his talent, however, they need to play him at his natural position, right wing.

Will they?

It’s anyone’s guess, knowing coach Joel Quenneville’s penchant for moving guys out of their natural spots.

Jay Zawaski is the executive producer of the Spiegel and Goff Show on 670 The Score and the Blackhawks columnist for CBSChicago.com. Follow him on Twitter at @JayZawaski670.

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