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Leddy returns to Chicago, unable to play former team due to injury

CHICAGO -- New York Islanders defenseman Nick Leddy tried to make the most of his return to Chicago despite not being able to play against his former team.

Leddy will sit out Tuesday's game against the Chicago Blackhawks as he continues to work back from a recent upper-body injury. He was able to take part in the morning skate Tuesday at the United Center, take in some of Chicago and meet up with some of his former teammates.

“It was good to see the city and to see some of the guys this morning was cool,” said Leddy, who was traded to the Islanders in October. “It’s a little bittersweet [not to play in the game.] Obviously trying to get back as quick as I can, trying to help the team as much as I can.”

Leddy has been useful to the Islanders when he’s been on the ice this season. He’s filled a top-4 defenseman role and given them an offensive defenseman. He’s had 10 goals, 19 assists and is a plus-17 in 68 games. He’s also averaged 20:05 of ice time.

What Leddy has given the Islanders is something the Blackhawks have been missing for much of the season. Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville was hopeful rookie defenseman Trevor van Riemsdyk would fill Leddy’s role, but van Riemsdyk suffered a serious knee injury in November and is still likely a few weeks from playing in the NHL. Quenneville has tried a number of different defensemen this season.

Quenneville thinks the Blackhawks are better defensively this season, but they are lacking someone with Leddy’s offensive ability.

“I think I look at what we’re giving up defensively this year -- that’s the first thing we measure is our defense -- I think we’ve improved in that area this year,” Quenneville said on Tuesday. “I think offensively from the back end maybe not as consistent from the back end getting production or quality offensive zone time.”

Leddy wasn’t looking to leave Chicago when he was traded before the season, but he understood the Blackhawks' situation.

“I would say it stung, but you hear the cap situation the entire summer,” said Leddy, who recently signed a seven-year contract extension with the Islanders. “You hear rumors here and there. But the guys I won the Stanley Cup with and had really grown to become a family, so that did sting. I have a new experience, and it’s been awesome so far. The guys on the islanders are awesome guys. They welcomed me with open arms and never look back.

“[The Blackhawks are] still a very good team. They’re always going to be a very good team with [Patrick Kane] and [Jonathan Toews] and their core guys there. They’re always going to be a good team there.”

Leddy spoke of having great memories in Chicago having won the 2013 Stanley Cup with the Blackhawks. It’s something he hopes he can also have with the Islanders. He wouldn’t mind seeing the Blackhawks in the Stanley Cup finals either.

“That would be an incredible thing if that came true,” Leddy said. “Either way, I hope we’re contending for it.”