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Sunday, October 17, 2010
Nick Leddy's demotion a bit surprising

By Jesse Rogers

Nick Leddy
Nick Leddy was assigned to Rockford on Sunday after playing in all six games for the Blackhawks this season
The Chicago Blackhawks may have surprised a few people by sending defenseman Nick Leddy to the minors after he appeared in all six games for the team this season.

With Jassen Cullimore’s recall and Niklas Hjalmarsson coming off his two-game suspension, the Hawks had eight defensemen on the active roster as they await the return of Brian Campbell from a knee injury. Most thought Leddy would survive until Campbell returned. After all, it was widely assumed Leddy made the team in the first place due to Campbell’s injury.

The Hawks did not practice on Sunday so the team’s explanation will have to wait until Monday, but it does seem like a curious move on the surface.

Leddy certainly was going through some growing pains, but had not embarrassed himself in any fashion so far and was seemingly ahead of several Hawks on the depth chart. Jordan Hendry was a healthy scratch for three games and John Scott is also off to a slow start, having played wing the last two contests.

Cullimore played a decent game on Friday but took a step back on Saturday with a couple of ugly shifts.

So why Leddy?

He played less on Saturday against the Sabres (8:46) than he had in any previous game, but skated nearly 20 minutes twice in the first six contests.

More than likely, this simply has to do with his development. They gave him a taste of the NHL, but don’t feel like he’s ready for 19 minutes a night. So to Rockford he goes, where he can play in all situations, all the time.

Leddy was also playing out of position: right defense. He’s been a left defenseman the entirety of his young career.

Hjalmarsson plays the left side as well, so something had to give.

There is one more thing to consider in the equation: Nick Boynton.

By most accounts, Boynton has had a solid start to the season. He has two assists and is plus-2 in the five games he’s played since his opening night suspension, while averaging over 21 minutes a game. Yes, he was somewhat of a goat against Nashville when he took a delay-of-game penalty late in the contest, leading to a winning power-play goal by the Predators, but that was more of a fluke than anything. He’s been a solid stop-gap in place of Campbell. That looked to be Leddy’s role coming out of training camp, but now that Leddy had been dropped to a fifth or sixth defenseman, the Hawks probably felt it was better for him to be in Rockford.

The only question is, is it better for the Hawks?