CHICAGO Matt Irwin got the call a little past midnight.
Around 12:30 a.m. in St. Johns, Newfoundland, Irwin was notified that the Sharks would need him in Chicago prior to Sundays game against the powerful Blackhawks. He left the team hotel around 3:00 a.m. local time, caught a 6:00 a.m. flight, and arrived at the United Center at 1:40 p.m. CST.
Its been a long day, but its something Ive been waiting for, and its exciting, he said before the game, in which he ended up being a healthy scratch.
Todd McLellan was asked to describe Irwins game.
Offensive catalyst for Worcester. He shoots the puck well, and hard. Obviously, at that level, hes been very, very confident, skating pucks out of trouble, making initial passes. A puck-moving, reliable defenseman at that level. We hope that he brings some of those skills here tonight.
One area Irwin could see some action is on the power play. The Sharks are just one for their last 25 with a man advantage, including an 0-for-6 effort on Saturday night. Irwin has six power play goals for Worcester, and is second on the team in scoring with 16 points (7g, 9a).
He could play in that situation. Hes an offensive guy and had a hell of a year down there, said McLellan. Hes been seeing the ice very well and deserves the opportunity to come up.
If thats where they put me, Ill do my best, said the 24-year-old, who signed as a free agent with the Sharks in March, 2010. Hopefully, I can contribute wherever the coaching staff feels that they can slide me in. Ill be happy to do whatever. Im here to help the team win, and contribute.
Irwin was glad to see at least one familiar face in the Sharks' dressing room. He and Justin Braun were paired together not only in Worcester, but at the University of Massachusetts from 2008-10.
Although he didn't play against the Blackhawks, Irwin was asked what it would be like to see names like Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane on the other side of the ice.
That will be cool. Its a dream come true," he said. "You always want to play at this level and to see those guys across from you, and competing against them is something that Ive dreamed about for my whole life.