Tootoo clarifies remarks about being on ‘right side’ of ‘Hawks-Preds rivalry

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On Thursday, Chicago forward Jordin Tootoo discussed his comments about being on the “right side” of the Blackhawks-Predators rivalry.

“I think there was a little misinterpretation there,” Tootoo said, per the Tennessean. “I’m at a point in my life where I’m very, very happy and content and grateful for the opportunity to play for the Blackhawks.

“I respect the city of Nashville and everything that it’s given to me. It’s that time of the year where every man is for himself. I’m a Blackhawk now.”

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Following Wednesday’s practice, Tootoo — who spent the first eight years of his career with the Preds organization — raised some eyebrows with remarks made to the Chicago Tribune.

“Personally, when you play a team in the playoffs you learn to hate them quick, and it’s obviously a divisional rival,” he said of his former team. “Nashville and Chicago has always been a heated battle and it finally feels great to be on the right side.”

Tootoo, 34, was a fan favorite during his time in Nashville, a period that included personal struggles with alcohol abuse. He’s often credited Preds GM David Poile and former head coach Barry Trotz for helping him into the NHL’s substance abuse and behavioral health program seven years ago.

Tootoo has appeared in 50 games for Chicago this season, scoring two goals and three points. Based on yesterday’s line rushes, it looks as though he’ll open this series on the fourth line with Tanner Kero and John Hayden.

The ‘Hawks and Preds have faced each other twice in the last seven postseasons, with Chicago winning both series. The third installment gets underway tonight at the United Center (8 p.m. ET, NBCSN).