Raanta had been with the Rockford IceHogs, the Blackhawks’ AHL affiliate, since late February and was enjoying himself. He had played well in net, the team was winning and the AHL playoffs were on deck.
Just as Raanta was getting excited about the Calder Cup playoffs, the Blackhawks came calling on him to be their emergency third goaltender for the Stanley Cup playoffs. He understood right away the probability of him actually appearing in a game for the Blackhawks in the playoffs was slim.
Raanta’s natural reaction was frustration. He just wanted to play, and that opportunity was being taken from him. But for the always upbeat Raanta, his anger lasted only so long. He dispersed of it, focused on the positives and got back to being his useful self.
“When I came here, when I heard I was coming here, of course, first thing was I was little frustrated with that, a little bit mad about that because I wanted to play there in Rockford,” said Raanta, who was 7-4-1 with a 1.89 goals-against average and .936 save percentage with the Blackhawks this season. “I almost knew maybe [was] not getting a chance here. After the first 10 minutes, I came to the arena and saw the guys, they were so happy about it that I came here.
“After that, I made me feel like it’s a real good chance for me to work out in a gym, be with the team still even though I’m not dressing for the games. I can still hang out with the boys. It’s fun to be here.”
Whether Raanta will be with the Blackhawks beyond this season is uncertain, and it’s not something to which he’s given much thought. On the day Raanta was reassigned to the IceHogs, the Blackhawks recalled Scott Darling and announced a two-year contract extension for Darling. Darling has started over Corey Crawford in the last two playoff games. Raanta was rumored to be on the trade market at the deadline this season.
“It’s a waste of time if I start thinking that right now,” said the 25-year-old Raanta, who signed a two-year contract extension after the 2013-14 season. “The only thing what I can do right now is work hard and prepare for everything. You never know what’s going to happen in the games or in practice. I just have to be here, work hard and be the normal me here. Just try to do everything right. We can see when the season is over what’s the deal. I still have one year left in my contract, so I don’t want to think about those things too much.”
Whatever happens later, Raanta is rooting for the Blackhawks to win the Stanley Cup now.
“Of course, we hope that we get a real good run here,” Raanta said. “I don’t mind if we win the Stanley Cup this year. It’s a great chance for me to see a little bit of outside of hockey also when we travel like that and be with the boys. That’s the one thing that still matters.”