Blackhawks defenseman Nick Leddy had played every game in each of the past three regular seasons. The same held true for the playoffs — until Game 3 against the Wild on Tuesday night.
Leddy was a healthy scratch for the Hawks’ 4-0 loss after he had been benched in the later stages of Game 2.
The move from coach Joel Quenneville surprised Leddy. But when asked about it Thursday, Leddy seemed to take it in stride, calling it “a big wake-up call.”
“It would make you mad,” Leddy said. “Like I said, it’s out of my control. I just have to be ready to go.”
He will have to be, with Quenneville saying Thursday that Leddy would be back in the lineup for Game 4 on Friday night.
“Nick is going to give us some speed, give us some pace,” Quenneville said. “He has that quickness to his game that we’d like to be part of our team as well.”
Specifically, Leddy said Quenneville told him to focus more on the smaller facets of his game, such as going harder after pucks. The scratch didn’t come as a total shock to Leddy because he could feel his quality of play slipping over the past few games.
“You kind of know and you have a feeling,” Leddy said. “You’ve been playing the sport long enough to where you know if you’re playing a good game or a bad game. If it’s not your night, you just have to simplify.”
It didn’t help that Leddy, a native of Eden Prairie and a former Gophers player, was benched in front of family and friends.
“It would have been tough either way,” Leddy said. “You’re a competitor. You never want to sit. You always want to be out there. That’s on me. I’ll be better.”
Leddy isn’t accustomed to getting benched. But Quenneville is hoping the move has the desired effect on him like it did on Bryan Bickell and Brandon Saad at various points this season. Bickell and Saad have turned in strong performances throughout the playoffs.
“Every file is kind of different. But definitely you’re expecting progress,” Quenneville said. “Sometimes it gets their attention. It’s never personal. It’s, ‘Hey, let’s go.’ We’re trying to find ways to get the most out of each and every individual. That’s kind of where we’re at in that situation.”
After Friday night, Leddy hopes it never becomes an issue again.
“Any competitor would get ticked at that,” Leddy said. “Like I said, I don’t think I was playing the way the coaches wanted, and it was a coaching decision. I’ve got to be better.”