Petri Kontiola: The Chicago Blackhawks' Forgotten Man

Michael WagnerSenior Analyst IOctober 22, 2008

He had it all, and then he had nothing.

Petri Kontiola was projected to be the Hawks' second-line center after the departure of veteran Robert Lang. Then he was in the AHL, playing on the first line for the Rockford Ice Hogs—after a surprise demotion which left the Chicago Blackhawks with a huge hole right down the middle.

For those of you who do not know Petri Kontiola, here is a brief summary of how we got to this point.

Kontiola began his hockey career in Finland playing for Tappara U-18, where he was a rather small-name player and really did not register a blip on the NHL's radar. That would all change at the 2003-04 World Junior Championships.

He only registered two points in seven games at the World Juniors, but his talent was recognized, so the Chicago Blackhawks took a chance and chose him with the 196th pick in the 2004 NHL Entry draft. 

After he was drafted, he continued to play in Finland for Tappara Tampere in the Finish Elite League, SM-Liga. In the Tappara Tampere, Kontiola put up strong offensive numbers, which led to him coming over to America last season to play for the Chicago Blackhawks affiliate Rockford Ice Hogs.

Again, Kontiola put up great offensive numbers, notching 50 assists—but could not translate his AHL success in Chicago when he was called in to fill holes created by injury. 

This season was going to be different for Kontiola.  He was going to compete with Dave Bolland for the third-line center spot with the Blackhawks and was even going to spend the entire offseason in Chicago to improve his American game.

His likely hood of making the Blackhawks roster increased even more when Robert Lang was shipped out as a cap causality—now, he was almost certainly a lock.

But just halfway through the preseason, Kontiola's world came crashing down, as he was assigned back to Rockford to start the season.

This was the year that he though he was going to make it—but no, his inconsistent play in the preseason games and continual brain cramps with the puck in the defensive zone led to his demise.

On the bright side for Kontiola, there are always injuries and players getting sent down so surely he would be the first one to be given a shot with the 'Hawks if someone got injured or sent down, wrong.

Just this week former first-round pick Jack Skille was sent down—but it was not Petri Kontiola that got the call to the big club.  It was winger Troy Brouwer (another deserving candidate).

Well, if you look at the stats, Brouwer has more points and a better plus-minus rating—but not by much, leading me to believe that there might be another reason why Kontiola or another center did not get the call.

With the current state of the team, you would think that the 'Hawks would look to bring up a center and put Patrick Sharp back at wing with Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews, who he thrived with last season—but you would be wrong.

This might show us that the 'Hawks are not satisfied with Kontiola or their center depth in the farm system in general. 

For Petri Kontiola, same ****, different day.