Hawks' Rookie Camp Opens; Dumont, Royer Have Chance

Article excerpt

Byline: Tim Sassone Daily Herald Sports Writer

Blackhawks coach Dirk Graham had a reason for taking an open mind into the start of rookie camp Monday.

"I think everybody has a chance to make this team because when you miss the playoffs it changes everything," said the Hawks' first-year coach. "That's the situation you put yourself in when you don't make the playoffs."

Even when the veterans report next Saturday, Graham warned that nobody better be taking anything for granted.

"When you miss the playoffs, it's the type of thing where everybody has to come to camp and earn the honor of wearing the Blackhawks jersey again," Graham said.

"Of course, a guy like Doug Gilmour is not going to come in and earn himself a position, but he is going to earn himself the position he's going to play in."

It was a group of 25 rookies who reported to camp on Sunday. After a quick practice at the United Center on Monday morning, the Hawks rookies headed for Traverse City, Mich., where they will take part in a week-long scrimmage tournament against rookie squads from the Red Wings, Blues and Nashville Predators.

Two prospects appear to have the best chance of being on the opening-night roster: defenseman Remi Royer and winger J.P. Dumont.

It's Dumont who figures to get a lot of preseason attention, a 6-foot-1, 187-pound sniper acquired from the Islanders in the off-season in exchange for Dmitri Nabokov.

The 20-year-old Dumont scored 57 goals in 55 games for Val-d'Or in the Quebec Major Junior League last season. He added 31 goals and 46 points in just 19 playoff games to shatter records held by Mario Lemieux.

"He's been getting nothing but good reviews," Graham said. "He's certainly got a scoring touch. You don't do what he did if you don't have one."

The Hawks would love Dumont to show them he is capable of playing on one of the top two lines, but he won't be rushed into something he's not ready for like Dan Cleary was last season, says general manager Bob Murray. …