Andreas Athanasiou spent four and a half seasons with the Detroit Red Wings to begin his NHL career. Counting his time spent in the AHL, the first five full seasons in his professional career were spent with the Red Wings organization. He was traded to the Edmonton Oilers in February 2020, just prior to the shutdowns and restructuring of the NHL schedules due to the COVID pandemic that altered the end of the 2019-20 season and the entire 2020-21 season. Having to endure that and having spent the past two seasons playing in the Western Conference, Athanasiou has only seen the Red Wings once since being moved.
Friday night’s home opening game for the Blackhawks will be the second time that Athanasiou faces his former club. The club that drafted him in the fourth round in 2012 and spent his first 377 professional games with.
But for Athanasiou, it’s just another game.
It’s just another game, really. I got some buddies over there that I know pretty well, but I just take it as any other game.”
In his first game against the Red Wings last season, Athanasiou recorded no points in just over 14 minutes of ice time and was a -2 in the game, a 5-3 win for the L.A. Kings over Detroit. Hopefully, this second opportunity to face his former club is more fruitful for the Woodbridge, Ontario native.
The Blackhawks are coming off their first victory of the season in their last contest, a 5-2 win over the San Jose Sharks. While it was a positive game for the Blackhawks and a reward for the way they have been playing to start the season, a season that is expected to be a full-on tank, it was Athanasiou’s worst as a Blackhawk. Against the Sharks, Athanasiou played just 14:17 minutes but was also in the penalty box for 12 minutes after a holding minor penalty and ending the second period with a misconduct penalty.
Sure the sample size is incredibly small, but the speedy winger is in Chicago on a one-year deal that is very flippable later in the season for a reason. Athanasiou is a member of the Blackhawks to do well and get a shot at playing for a contender later in the year after the trade deadline. After three games and playing on the top line with Max Domi and Patrick Kane, Athanasiou has just one assist and five shots on goal.
We speculated on the CHGO Blackhawks Podcast there might be some repercussions coming to Athanasiou following his misconduct penalty and on-ice behavior against the Sharks. However, Luke Richardson will still have him on the wing of Domi and Kane against the Red Wings. That line should be the offensive catalyst for Chicago, but the trio has only a combined three points in three games. Getting their offensive games going tonight against Detroit would do wonders for their chemistry and for the way the Blackhawks are trying to play this season.
Even if Athanasiou considers tonight’s contest “just another game,” as his Blackhawks stallmate Colin Blackwell reminded him after the morning skate, “there are no friends out on the ice.”