Published September 11, 2022

Return to Barrie routine for this former Colt and current Chicago Blackhawk forward Athanasiou

Andreas Athanasiou has returned to camp to skate with his old junior club
Return to Barrie routine for this former Colt and current Chicago Blackhawk forward
Photo by Terry Wilson / OHL Images.

By Gene Pereira

Fresh off one scrimmage, Andreas Athanasiou changes into a gold jersey and jumps back on the ice at Barrie Colts training camp.

The jet-like bursts and dazzling stickhandling skills are not only still there for the former Colt, they are much more impressive after seven years of playing in the National Hockey League with the Detroit Red Wings, Edmonton Oilers, Los Angeles Kings and now Chicago Blackhawks.

Athanasiou has returned to camp to skate with his old junior club pretty much every year since wrapping up a two-year stint with the Colts in 2014.

The speedy forward, who collected 78 goals and 84 assists for 162 points in 132 games as a Colt, has used the club's OHL camp to get prepare for his NHL camps.

Though he often looks to set up his young teammates more often than flash a glimpse of his own immense offensive talents, Athanasiou clearly enjoys himself in the familiar setting.

"It's becoming a bit of a routine," said the 28-year-old, who signed a one-year, $3 million deal with the Blackhawks this offseason. "As the season's approaching, I come and join the boys here for a main camp for a few days and skate with them."

His Blackhawks hockey bag in tow, Athanasiou joins Chicago after two seasons in Los Angeles. While the Hawks spent the offseason unloading star forward Alex DeBrincat and former third overall pick Kirby Dach, and are now said to be shopping star Patrick Kane, Athanasiou isn't ready to call this a rebuilding year in Chicago or anything like that.

While the departures of key forwards will likely mean a bigger offensive role for Athanasiou, he's not ready to buy into the "rebuilding" tag most NHL media have handed Chicago.

He says the goal remains the same, to win hockey games and get into the playoffs.

"Obviously, you can read what they (hockey pundits) say, but every team is pretty good in the NHL," he said in the Colts dressing room after a scrimmage. "There's a lot of great players on Chicago, and we'll see where we can take it."

Writing them off before the season starts certainly provides Athanasiou and his new teammates plenty of motivation.

"I think so," he said. "It kind of just puts a bit of a chip on everyone's shoulder. I think every night, someone is trying to prove something in the NHL, so let's go out there and play the game."
With the Blackhawks set to open training camp on September 23, Athanasiou believes he's ready to take the ice with his new teammates.

"Yeah, like anything, the more times you do it the more you get accustomed to what you have to bring to the table and what's going to be asked of you," he said of preparing for his first camp in the Windy City. "Every time you get an opportunity to learn, that comes with camps and exhibitions, every chance you get is a chance to grow."


Athanasiou often splits his summers between here and Florida, though last summer he stayed out in California.

He says he always comes back to Toronto to visit friends and family.

Like any other hockey player, Athanasiou is anxious to get things started. After more than two years of dealing with COVID and the disruptions the pandemic brought to the game, he's happy to just focus on the game coming into this season.

"Definitely," he said. "Just to get back to the way things used to be and get out there and play hockey and get ready for a full season."

banner image: OHL Images

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