Vermette keeping focus on team despite own situation

CHICAGO -- Antoine Vermette found himself again outside of the Chicago Blackhawks' top-4 lines during practice on Tuesday, making it more probable he will not play against the Nashville Predators in Game 1 of their first-round series.

Vermette said Tuesday he hadn’t been told exactly his status for Game 1. The 11-year NHL veteran has remained professional about his situation.

“All I say is we’ll all be brief because I don’t have much [information] regarding this,” Vermette said after practice on Tuesday. “Obviously I want to play. I want to help the team to win, [be] successful. Certainly the last thing I want to do is make it about myself and be a distraction.”

Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville has been open about his feelings on Vermette’s game. Quenneville has said numerous times he has wanted more from Vermette, who was acquired by the Blackhawks from the Arizona Coyotes for a first-round draft pick and prospect at the trade deadline this season.

Vermette has zero goals and three assists in 19 games since joining the Blackhawks. He said Tuesday he felt if he had more production he wouldn’t be possibly sitting out Game 1.

“If it had been better, I wouldn’t be in this position,” Vermette said. “I’ll leave it to this. I know it’s not much guys. Again, it’s not a great position, but I want to be supportive. Not about me, it’s about the team and win some games.”

Quenneville said he understood why Vermette would be disappointed if he didn’t play in Game 1.

“I think if you’re not playing, everybody wants more time, wants to play a little more in these situations and it’s never easy in that area and that situation,” Quenneville said. “I think you have to put yourself in a position to be ready and get in there.”

Quenneville thinks Vermette has struggled because he hasn’t found the right fit with the Blackhawks. Quenneville has played him at center and right wing on a variety of lines.

“System is probably a little bit different,” Quenneville said. “Speed, pace, linemates, changing positions and it’s something we’re trying to find the right fit. Most systems are very comparable and that’s where we’re at. We have some depth with him right now.”

Vermette was still looking forward to the playoffs and remained optimistic he could contribute at some point.

“You want to make a difference. That doesn’t change. That’s for sure," Vermette said. “You prepare yourself and make sure you’re working hard and be ready whenever you go.”