Given the volume of activity that Kyle Davidson has influenced since removing the interim tag from his title as general manager, there’s no reason to be surprised by any transaction that the Chicago Blackhawks find themselves stick-handling these days. As the 2022-23 campaign gets underway, the franchise continues to provide supporters with more reason to maintain that mentality.
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This edition of Blackhawks News & Rumors explores some necessary and nonsensical roster revising, as well as the return of a former fan favourite.
Darling Back With the Blackhawks
One of the most memorable and impactful Blackhawks backups in this era of the game, Scott Darling certainly earned his reputation as a fan favourite.
The journeyman played in more leagues than most are aware of, before getting his shot with Chicago in 2014-15. Fortunate timing for both sides, as Darling would prove pivotal in helping the Blackhawks gain the momentum necessary to capture their third and final Stanley Cup that decade.
“You couldn’t have written it any better,” Darling said. “It is almost hilarious the way it worked out. I was trying to find a contract last summer and hoping for the best. Literally the best-case scenario happened.”
Darling wouldn’t find a way back to that type of peak as a Blackhawk and ended up moving on to the Carolina Hurricanes a few seasons later. Unfortunately, both his time in Raleigh and the remainder of his NHL career were short-lived. He then ended up in Austria for one season before attempting a comeback with the American Hockey League’s (AHL) Rockford IceHogs.
Despite his time between the pipes ending in 2020-21, Darling has found his way back to the Blackhawks for the 2022-23 campaign. But, rather than suiting up to manage a No. 2 role, fans can expect to see him far more front and centre this season.
NBC Sports Chicago has announced that Darling will be joining their Blackhawks Pregame Live and Blackhawks Postgame Live crew alongside Pat Boyle, Caley Chelios, and Colby Cohen. An easily likeable and obviously genuine character, getting to experience more of Darling’s personality on-screen is a win-win for all involved.
Chicago Claims Tinordi Off Waivers
With how crowded Chicago’s blue line has been of late, it seemed logical that they would be moving some defensive pieces around in anticipation of deploying a more succinct strategy promoting development. How else would one make sense of their desire to move 24-year-old Riley Stillman, so soon after signing him to a three-year extension?
Yet, the Blackhawks then decided to go against that very approach by claiming Jarred Tinordi off of waivers. Chicago is now the sixth NHL franchise listed on the 30-year-old’s resume, who spent most of 2021-22 relegated to the AHL. The point is, he is far from an up-and-comer.
It’s not to discount Tinordi’s ability, as there may be a suitable fit for him somewhere throughout the league. However, regardless of whether he spends most of his time in Chicago or Rockford through 2022-23, that the club added him into the mix at this point in its rebuild just doesn’t quite equate.
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Such coveted spots should be reserved for those who can use the laneway to further propel their progress, in anticipation of building cohesion as the lineup develops collectively. Instead, Chicago has not only increased its average age with this acquisition but they’ve also made it more difficult for deserving prospects who are ready to make the leap to earn added ice time.
Colton Dach Sent Back to Kelowna
After participating in the Tom Kurvers Prospect Showcase, Colton Dach also found his way into one exhibition contest with the Blackhawks this preseason. Unfortunately, going pointless throughout that match didn’t help his case for landing a roster spot come opening night.
However, it’s not as though Dach didn’t put it all out there during the ice time he was granted. The forward accumulated five shots and three hits that night. Enough to tie him for the team lead in each category. He even spent 3:52 on the power play.
While one could look at this as a disappointment, Dach has to see it as an opportunity to put himself in an even better position moving forward. The 19-year-old can spend the year gaining that much more confidence, ripping up the Western Hockey League (WHL). The centreman accumulated 79 points in 61 contests with the Kelowna Rockets last season.
That he’s now been named captain of the Rockets will also help enhance his leadership abilities in advance of his return to the NHL.
Kane & Toews Split Up, Again
After a short reunion alongside one another during training camp, Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews have been split up again as their 2022-23 schedule nears.
However, the fanbase need not waste energy being disappointed by the fact that the two likely won’t start the season together. Rather, supporters should shift their expectations toward what actually matters for this club at this point — progress.
Luke Richardson has been praised for his ability to develop and get the most out of a roster. If he feels this lineup’s ultimate goal is best achieved with Kane and Toews beside each other, rest assured that he’ll make it so. But, if that pair hinders Chicago’s ability to optimize its plan, there’s no room for nostalgia to get in the way. Ultimately, this Blackhawks squad is due for a number of different looks throughout 2022-23.
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Whether or not Kane and Toews end the year on the same line, let alone on the same team, isn’t all that important in this team’s current storyline. What is, however, is how much better they can be as a collective by season’s end than they were when it began.