Chicago Sun-Times

Blackhawks center Marcus Kruger set to return from concussion; Ben Smith sent to Rockford

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On Friday, the Blackhawks announced that forward Ben Smith was assigned to the Rockford IceHogs and that center Marcus Kruger was activated from injured reserve.

In other words, Kruger, who has been recovering from a concussion, has been cleared to play and is expected to be in the lineup Saturday against the Red Wings in Detroit.

Kruger first suffered his concussion when Penguins defenseman Deryk Engelland checked him in the head on Dec. 20. He missed one game, but returned against the Blue Jackets and endured some tough hits. His symptoms returned and he missed the last eight games.

Over the past week, Kruger participated in long, grueling practices, filled with physical activity. He said he was feeling better afterward every single day.

"I was just doing some conditioning to keep in shape; it's good," Kruger said. "And a lot of fun. ... I'm just focused on getting back and getting healthy."

The standout play of rookies Jimmy Hayes and Andrew Shaw made Smith expendable at this time. In his second stint with the Hawks this season, Smith recorded a goal and a plus-2 rating, playing primarily on Jamal Mayers' fourth line.

"We've got number problems; we've got roster problems," coach Joel Quenneville said. "[Kruger] looks like he could be back here, playing on the weekend, so we'll have to look at some options here, but we're right at the [roster limit]."

Smith, who recalled when Patrick Sharp went on injured reserve with a fractured wrist, said scoring helped his confidence.

"I was trying to get pucks to the net and got a little lucky," Smith said. "We'll take those every time. I didn't really have too much on that play. I got lucky it went over his shoulder and glove."

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Send Kruger to Rockford and keep Smith here for awhile. Come on Stan

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Adam L. Jahns is a native Chicagoan hailing from the Far Northwest Side. Jahns has been with the Sun-Times since 2005, covering the Hawks since 2009. He's also helped cover the Bears, Cubs, Sox and high schools.

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This page contains a single entry by Adam L. Jahns published on January 13, 2012 10:34 AM.

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