A native of West Dundee, a village on the northwest side of Chicago, Hartman and his family watched the Blackhawks when he was growing up, and in 2012 he was watching on television when Chicago won their second Stanley Cup in four seasons.
Less than a month later, Hartman was drafted 30th overall by the Blackhawks.
“It was pretty crazy, especially sitting through the draft. I was late in the first round so it was a long wait and I didn’t know when I was going to go,” Hartman said. “When my name was called it was pretty surreal, it didn’t hit me for a while. I don’t think it hit me until I was putting on the jersey in camp.”
When the Blackhawks hoisted the Stanley Cup this past June, he got a close-up view of the celebrations.
He even got a championship ring before he ever played an NHL playoff game.
Hartman joined Chicago as a “Black Ace” – essentially a practice player – after the Rockford IceHogs AHL season came to a close. He watched the Western Conference and Stanley Cup finals from the press box and then was on the ice for the celebrations.
“We knew they had a chance and we thought it would be cool to get a ring, but we didn’t want to jinx it and ask,” Hartman said. “As it was getting closer I talked to my agent and he eventually asked about it. All of the Black Aces got one.”
It was the type of on-the-job training you can’t simulate anywhere else.
In addition to the flashy jewelry, Hartman soaked up the NHL playoff atmosphere and watched closely in practice how Chicago’s veterans handled themselves during a playoff run.
That experience, combined with five regular season games for Chicago in 2014-15, became building blocks for Hartman’s summer.
He attacked the summer with plans of playing in the NHL this season.
“That’s where you want to be, you want to be at that level,” Hartman said. “Once you get your games and you get your experience, you get an assessment of what you need to work on to stay up there. So, I just try to get faster and stronger on my feet.”
It is already paying off.
Hartman has already appeared in three games for the Blackhawks, and he has been Rockford’s leading scorer and a leader in all situations.
“He’s a confident kid,” IceHogs head coach Ted Dent said. “That’s something you can see from his time in the NHL. When you get up there you really learn what you need to do and Ryan has taken advantage of his opportunities.”
A good-sized forward with a quick release, Hartman is working on cutting down on his penalty minutes this season.
“He’s an old school-style player who likes to be aggressive,” Dent said. “And we’re getting to a day and age where you have to be able to play with skill and that is sometimes punished more than it should be.”
Hartman has the skill, Dent said, the key now is keeping a bit of that “old school attitude” and using it to his advantage while staying out of the box.
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