Blackhawks defenseman Calvin de Haan is healthy again for his third Blackhawks season. | AP Photo/Mark Humphrey
De Haan fractured the head of his left tibia March 5 but played through it for much of last season, he revealed Friday.
Calvin de Haan has quietly become the most invincible Blackhawk.
The 30-year-old defenseman played through a broken leg for much of last season. He saw his name tossed around all summer in expansion draft and trade rumors. The Hawks did bring in several higher-profile defensemen, overshadowing his presence.
Yet as the 2021-22 season gets underway, de Haan is still in Chicago, still playing for the Hawks and still delivering his signature one-liners.
“Sorry fans — I’m still here,” he joked with a smile.
Back on March 5, De Haan blocked a ferocious one-timer by Lightning forward Alexander Volkov, then realized the impact had fractured the head of the tibia bone in his left leg.
He hobbled around to finish the shift, missed the March 7 rematch but then returned to the Hawks’ lineup as if nothing was wrong. He didn’t publicly reveal the injury until Friday.
“It was probably a good spot [to break it],” de Haan said. “It didn’t feel good for two or three weeks there, but skating was actually easier than walking around, to be honest. I know that sounds contradictory, but the motion of walking and pounding was a little different than the fluid motion of skating. [I needed] a lot of Advil, lot of Tylenol. It is what it is.”
“We knew right when it happened,” coach Jeremy Colliton added. “I don’t think we knew the damage, but he was hurting obviously for a while. To his credit, [he] played through it. That’s sometimes what makes our game special. We’re not the only sport where guys play through stuff, but there’s a hard-nosed quality to it, for sure.”
De Haan insisted the Hawks medical staff was aware of the situation and allowed him to continue playing because they knew it wouldn’t cause long-term problems. He didn’t need surgery or rehab, just time to let the fracture heal on its own.
But de Haan’s determination to stay healthy — or at least healthy enough to play — almost certainly contributed, too.
His career has long been plagued by shoulder issues, which cost him most of his final season with the Islanders (2017-18) and most of his first season with the Hawks (2019-20). He has scored exactly one goal in four consecutive seasons, and quipped last spring he simply hasn’t played enough games to ever get to two. But last year, he managed to appear in 44 of the team’s first 47 games before succumbing to a hip injury in the final weeks.
“In this day and age, I guess I’m old in hockey years, which kind of sucks,” he said. “Just trying to stay healthy obviously is the main thing for myself.”
The Hawks were widely expected to part ways with de Haan this offseason, but nothing ever materialized. His overpriced $4.55 million cap hit may have actually saved his Hawks tenure by diminishing his attractiveness to the Kraken and other ‘D’-hungry franchises.
After distracting himself during draft and free agency week — the busiest portion of the summer — by holding his wedding at the exact same time, de Haan resurfaced to find himself suddenly a very significant part of the Hawks’ revamped veteran defensive core.
“I knew I was going to have a job somewhere,” he said. “I’m really happy to be a Blackhawk, to be honest. My wife and I love it here, and it’s obviously a great organization.”
De Haan has spent much of training camp paired with Wyatt Kalynuk, and could conceivably move up alongside one of the right-handed stalwarts (Seth Jones and Connor Murphy) eventually, but will play Friday with Caleb Jones.
Seth Jones and Jake McCabe, meanwhile, will both make their Hawks preseason debuts — as will Marc-Andre Fleury, who will tend the net for the game’s first 30 minutes.