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Blackhawks’ Connor Murphy says he’s week or so away from return

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The defenseman hasn’t been cleared for contact, yet.

Chicago Blackhawks v Florida Panthers Photo by Joel Auerbach/Getty Images

Connor Murphy returned to practice Monday as a full participant for the first time since he had back surgery in September. He told the media he’s a week to week and hasn’t been cleared for contact, yet.

Murphy went through drills and skated in a fourth pairing role with Jan Rutta. The Blackhawkslatest update in September on his return set his timetable around early- to mid-December, so he could be doing some conditioning work to get himself up to speed and adjusted to a new system with head coach Jeremy Colliton.

Murphy scored two goals with 12 assists in 76 games in his first season for Chicago in 2017-18. He averaged a little more than 16 minutes of ice time per game, which was the second-lowest among all defenseman last season.

When the Blackhawks feel Murphy is ready to return and activate him from injured reserve, they’ll have an interesting decision to make on Brandon Manning and Rutta.