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BY BEN MEYER-ABBOTT
bmeyer-abbott@suntimes.com
@BMACST

A season largely spent in the American Hockey League with the Rockford IceHogs bookended by serious injuries wasn't the type of year Ben Smith envisioned after he burst onto the scene for the Hawks in the 2011 playoffs.

When forming his roster for the 2012-13 season, general manager Stan Bowman said he would look internally first and go from there.

In other words, it appears Bowman and Co. remain confident in the abilities of forwards Ben Smith and Brandon Bollig after the team announced Monday they were signed to new two-year deals. The Hawks also signed goalie Carter Hutton to a one-year, two-way contract.

The same can't be said about goalie Alexander Salak, though. Salak was released Monday after being placed on waivers and going unclaimed.

Blackhawks general manager Stan Bowman knew he'd need rookie forward Ben Smith again. And when that time came, he wanted to make sure he was confident.

Ben Smith's stint with the Blackhawks -- at least his first one this season -- has come to an end. After seven games, the Hawks sent him back to the Rockford IceHogs.

Ben Smith's start was less than ideal. The winger's first two games of the season were two of the worst for the Hawks as a team.

After being called up from the Rockford IceHogs in place of struggling winger Rostislav Olesz, Smith played 9:21 and was a minus-2 in the Hawks' 5-2 loss against the Calgary Flames in the second game of the circus trip. A day later, he was a minus-1 in 14:04 in a 9-2 defeat against the Edmonton Oilers.

Smith hasn't played since, but he's expected to be back in the lineup when the Hawks host the New York Islanders at the United Center Friday. Winger Bryan Bickell, who has seen a drop in his ice time, will likely be a scratch. Bickell didn't record a point in November.

CALGARY, Alberta -- Ben Smith had a big smile across his face when the media cornered him in the Blackhawks locker room at the Scotiabank Saddledome.

CALGARY, Alberta -- The Blackhawks made it official on Thursday. Ben Smith is coming, and Rostislav Olesz is going.

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By Ben Meyer-Abbott bmeyer-abbott@suntimes.com
Twitter:
@BMACST

Ben Smith practiced Monday for the first time since last Wednesday as he continued in his recovery from a concussion suffered Sept. 28.

With Dave Bolland suffering from an undisclosed upper-body injury and Ben Smith still recovering from a concussion, the Blackhawks recalled rookie center Brandon Pirri from the Rockford IceHogs on Thursday.

Dave Bolland's non-serious upper-body injury might be more serious than previously thought.

Coach Joel Quenneville still maintained that Bolland's undisclosed injury isn't a long-term concern, but said the center was questionable for the opening weekend, a home-and-home with Dallas Stars starting Friday.

Blackhawks

About the blogger

Adam L. Jahns is a native Chicagoan. 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. Follow him on Twitter:@adamjahns

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