Byline: Tim Sassone Daily Herald Sports Writer
INDIANAPOLIS - Denis Savard takes it as a personal challenge when he hears about how the Blackhawks need a second-line center.
Savard officially applied for the job when he reported to training camp this week, and his resume is quite impressive: 1,311 career points in 16 seasons to rank 16th on the NHL's all-time scoring list.
The thing is, Savard turns 36 in February and jokingly refers to himself as an "old man." Yet he still feels he has a lot to offer, and who's to say one of greatest Hawks ever is wrong?
"It's a good challenge for me," Savard said of his pursuit of the second-line center job. "I'll give it a good shot. I think I can do it."
Coach Craig Hartsburg has said he plans to rotate Savard, Murray Craven and Kevin Miller in that second slot, but only Savard is a natural centerman.
The way Savard sees this training camp, it's 1980 all over again and he feels like a rookie fighting for a spot.
"I think I've got to earn a job and ice time," Savard said. "I know I'm older, but I feel like I'm coming to camp as a rookie. In the past at training camp I'd just try to get in condition and get my timing down. Now I've got to come prepared to play every exhibition game, every practice and every scrimmage."
Last year, Savard scored 48 points in 69 games playing most of the season behind Jeremy Roenick, Bernie Nicholls and Brent Sutter at center. Savard would like to play in every game this year, although Hartsburg feels Savard is at his best when he gets some rest and time off.
"When he's fresh, he's as good as anyone we have," Hartsburg said.
Savard claims it would be easier for him if he knew he was going to be in the lineup every night.
"When I know I'll play every night, I seem to be able to stay on track better," he said. "Mentally, I can get off track. That happened last year, not that I wanted it to, but mentally I just wasn't there sometimes. …