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Stewart giving Blackhawks an assist

CHICAGO -- You're not going to find Ryan Stewart's biography in the media guide or see him listed online with the other assistant coaches, but the former Canisius College winger has found a home with the Chicago Blackhawks under new head coach Denis Savard.

Stewart, a Niagara Falls, Ont., native who played four seasons with the Golden Griffins, has been working under Savard as an assistant coach. He started the season as a video coordinator. The Blackhawks expanded his role when Savard, a former assistant, took over for fired coach Trent Yawney on Nov. 29.

"It's been a great experience," Stewart said. "Denis opened the door for me and approached me to be his coach. Obviously, I jumped on it. It's been fantastic."

Stewart, 32, spent the previous several years working as a general manager for Greenville (S.C.) Grrrowl of the East Coast Hockey League. Greenville was affiliated with the Blackhawks before it abruptly folded over the summer. The Blackhawks approached Stewart about taking over as video coordinator this year.

He has continued in that role, but Savard also has asked him to help out with practices and serve as one of his assistant coaches. When the Blackhawks signed veteran sniper Peter Bondra, for example, Stewart sat down with him and explained their system.

"You get lost in the chaos of the daily grind of the NHL, which is fantastic," Stewart said. "You're standing on the bench during warm-ups getting their lines, and you see all the banners in [United Center] and realize this is the real deal here."

Stewart was 10th on Canisius' all-time scoring list with 55 goals and 131 points between 1994-98.

His career eventually ended in the ECHL after a series of concussions.

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Sabres center Chris Drury was injured the first period and returned for the second, but that didn't mean he would be ready tonight against the Leafs.

Drury dropped to the ice after Jaroslav Spacek struck him on the right foot with a slap shot with 12:06 remaining in the first period. He came back in the second and appeared fine in the third but was limping after the game.

Sabres coach Lindy Ruff wanted to wait until the morning skate today to see whether Drury would play tonight. Ruff said the center had a bruised foot. Drury had X-rays during the game that "looked negative," Ruff said.

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Ruff hinted that Martin Biron would start tonight against the Toronto Maple Leafs in HSBC Arena. There was a chance Biron could have played Wednesday night in Chicago, but Ruff kept Ryan Miller in net.

Biron has appeared in 12 games this season, but only three have been at home. All three were in November, when Miller was sidelined with an abdominal strain. Biron played well against the Maple Leafs on Saturday, when he stopped 32 of 35 shots in a 4-3 win in Toronto.

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A story in The Buffalo News on Wednesday reported Brian Campbell, Daniel Briere and Miller were the first three players from the same team to be voted to start the NHL All-Star Game. Actually, it was the first time three starters from the same team were chosen to make their All-Star debuts in the same year.

e-mail: bgleason@buffnews.com

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