Chicago Blackhawks LW Karl Stewart wore a weary look sitting at his stall in the Chicago Blackhawks' dressing room following a 3-0 loss to the lowly Philadelphia Flyers on Monday night and for good reason.
The life of a player on the NHL/AHL shuttle like Stewart often is a suitcase life spent in airports and hotels across North America. But even by bubble-player norms, Stewart has endured a vagabond five weeks with three NHL organizations.
The Blackhawks plucked Stewart off NHL waivers last Thursday from the Pittsburgh Penguins. The transaction returns Stewart to a city where he spent three AHL seasons with the Chicago Wolves as an Atlanta farmhand.
Stewart, who played three games with Pittsburgh this season, came to Pittsburgh from Anaheim after being claimed on waivers on Sept. 27.
The native of Aurora, Ont. spent three seasons in the Atlanta organization before being sent to Anaheim in August in the Vitaly Vishnevski deal. A strong skater, Stewart plays a heady, feisty game that could translate smoothly from the AHL to the NHL.
Stewart, 23 years old and making the NHL minimum salary of $450,000 US, could be a good bargain for a banged-up Blackhawks team that had been shut out in three consecutive games before Tuesday night's 5-2 road loss to the New York Islanders.
ON BEING A PART OF THREE NHL ORGANIZATIONS IN 29 DAYS
"The hard part is getting to know the guys, and then having to get to know another group of guys. It's not easy. It's helping me to stay positive knowing that teams are interested in me. It's a good thing that I'm still up here."
ON HIS ROLE WITH THE BLACKHAWKS
"I have a specific role. I'm an energy player. I finish my hits, and I can chip in when needed. My role has been the same everywhere I've gone."
ON RETURNING TO CHICAGO
"That's a huge bonus coming to Chicago. I felt like I was coming back home. As far as getting to know the guys, that's one thing, but I already know the city. I know where to eat, I have some old friends, so that definitely helps in the transition."
ON HIS STATE OF FLUX
"[Between the OHL with the Plymouth Whalers and the AHL with the Wolves] I had a stable situation up until last month. I spent my last three years in Chicago up and down between Chicago [with the Wolves] and Atlanta. But I like my opportunity here. I think that if I utilize my minutes well, I can make my home here again."
Patrick Williams can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.