CHICAGO -- The Chicago Blackhawks front office isn't talking until the NHL's new collective bargaining agreement is ratified, but it showed a glimpse of the team's upcoming roster plans on Tuesday.
Fans and media have speculated which players from the Rockford IceHogs, the Blackhawks' AHL affiliate, would get the call to the NHL to start the season, and that began to be answered on Tuesday. Brandon Bollig, Marcus Kruger and Andrew Shaw, who had been playing with the IceHogs during the lockout, showed up in Chicago on Tuesday and joined other Blackhawks in an informal workout at Johnny's IceHouse West.
The three players can't officially be recalled by the Blackhawks until the lockout is over, but Bollig said they were told by IceHogs management to get ready to play in Chicago. According to a Rockford IceHogs spokesperson, Nick Leddy has also left Rockford for Chicago.
The promotion of the four players isn't unexpected. Bollig, Kruger, Leddy and Shaw played for the Blackhawks in the regular season and playoffs last season.
Whether anyone else from Rockford is destined for the Blackhawks, Bollig was unsure.
"I couldn't tell you," Bollig said. "I'm excited that I did get that call. I don't know. It's obviously something that the Hawks wanted, and I'm excited to be one of those guys.
"I would imagine (other guys will come up.) I don't know. They didn't tell us too much. They kind of said pack your stuff."
With what will likely be a very short training camp prior to the season commencing, the Blackhawks and other NHL teams probably won't have the time to give many of their prospects an opportunity to earn a roster spot early on.
"Obviously it was unfortunate circumstances coming out of the offseason and not having a training camp to make their NHL team," Bollig said. "But if younger guys are lucky to get the invite now to this little mini training camp that teams are having here, then hopefully they can get it done and show what they have. Otherwise, I think it's just part of being a pro is being ready for whatever they give you."
Shaw, a fifth-round pick in the 2011 draft, was grateful to play in the AHL during the lockout and continue to progress his game. He had 12 goals and 11 assists in 37 games for the Blackhawks last season.
"Just keep in great shape, keep going and keep playing North American hockey," Shaw said. "It was great to have that opportunity."
Bollig complimented Shaw's game as well.
"He's doing his job," Bollig said. "He does it really well. Obviously the fans love him for that. I was lucky enough to be on his line, and we played pretty well together. He's doing exactly what he needs to do."