At 25, Smith has been through the ups and downs of being a prospect on the bubble. He’s traveled from Rockford to Chicago and back more than a few times.
From those experiences, Smith has learned to deal with uncertainties such as when, where and how often he’ll be playing. Even as he made the Blackhawks’ roster out of training camp this season, he’s still had to wait his turn and has been a healthy scratch in four games while other prospects were given their chances.
But now, Smith will be handed his own consistent opportunity to be in the lineup for the foreseeable future. With the Blackhawks sending forward Joakim Nordstrom to the Rockford IceHogs on Sunday to gain some more seasoning, they have just 12 forwards. Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville confirmed Monday he wants to give Smith more ice time.
“Benny, he’s played pretty well in the games he’s played,” Quenneville said after practice Monday. “Get more guys playing, that’s the idea of it and see how it all works out.”
Smith has bounced between the third and fourth lines when he’s dressed this season. He’s produced one goal, one assist and a plus-2 rating in four games. He skated with Brandon Bollig and Brandon Pirri on the fourth line during practice Monday.
Smith was hopeful he could springboard his upcoming ice time into future playing opportunities. He understands the business, but he also enjoys playing.
“You never want to be scratched,” Smith said. “That’s just part of it. The hope is you work your way out of those situations and you become an everyday player. That’s my mindset moving forward -- working hard to get that point where I’m an everyday player.”
Nordstrom to Rockford: Quenneville said the decision to send Nordstrom back down to the IceHogs was made to give him more playing experience. Nordstrom appeared in the Blackhawks’ first eight games.
“Get him a little more ice time, a little more quality ice time and probably more rotations and PK as well,” Quenneville said. “Get that down and keep him going.”
Traveling moms: A number of the Blackhawks will have their mothers traveling with them during their two-game Florida road trip this week. The Blackhawks have had mothers’ and fathers’ trips in the past.
“It’s great,” Quenneville said. “They get excited. I know it’s been a while since they’ve been on the trip. They want to make sure they outperform the dads, and they always measure that on the wins and losses on the ice. But it’s great for them to see how spoiled we are and how we travel and our lifestyle away on the road as well.
“They’ve been so excited the last three or four days. I’m talking about my own mum in this case. They can’t wait to go. I think there’s been a pretty good buzz around the last few days.”