CHICAGO – It was a chance to return home while also getting a shot to show his skills for a new team after a slow first half to the 2021 season.
So getting traded from the Panthers to the Blackhawks after playing just nine games in Florida was an opportunity Vinnie Hinostroza couldn’t wait to take advantage of once it became official on Saturday.
It was enough that he decided to take the long way to Chicago which, in a pandemic world, was actually a bit quicker. By driving and not flying from Fort Lauderdale, his quarantine time is shortened, allowing him to join the team by the start of Monday’s practice.
Thanks to that, Hinostroza will be in the Blackhawks’ lineup on Tuesday night as they begin a two-game series with the Stars at the United Center.
Hinostroza, a native of Barlett who is with his hometown team for the second time in his career, took the drive with his two dogs from Fort Lauderdale. His fiance and his two-month-old son will fly to Chicago later this week.
“It was long during it,” said Hinostroza of the drive. “The last five hours were tough, but obviously its great coming home to my family, great coming home to player here, so just super excited.”
That’s certainly the case for the forward, who was drafted by the Blackhawks in 2012 in the sixth round and then played in 106 games from 2015-2018. He was involved in the trade of Marian Hossa’s contract to the Coyotes before the 2018-2019 season and had great success in Arizona that first season.
Hinostroza had 16 goals and 23 assists in 72 games that year but the production slipped in 2019-2020 with just five goals and 17 assists in 68 games as he admitted to taking more of a defensive role with the team. After that season, he signed with former coach Joel Quenneville and the Panthers before this season, getting a one-year, $1 million contract, but he failed to register a point in nine games.
But Hinostroza will get his chance to prove himself right away on Tuesday night as he is on the third line with Dominik Kubalik and Philipp Kurachev.
“I’ve never wanted a handout, and that’s not something I’m looking for. I just want a good opportunity, a fair chance and I think with my hard work and the way I play I think I’ll be able to earn some time,” said Hinostroza. “Whatever I can do to help this team win. Obviously, there is about a month left in the season, a lot of guys have been here all year. Whatever I can do to help out, and hopefully get more opportunities as we go along.”
He certainly showed how eager he was to do so when it came to getting back home.