Not even a celebratory birthday post could help the slumping Chicago Blackhawks attract a different fate of late. Having lost four in a row and six of their last seven, this rebuilding club is certainly starting to look like one. However, that was to be expected, so let’s not overreact as though we have reason to be all that surprised.
This edition of Blackhawks News & Rumors illustrates how a club can be surrounded by celebration amid an actual lack thereof.
Blackhawks Raise Hossa’s No. 81 to Rafters
Arguably one of the greatest free agent acquisitions in NHL history, let alone for the Blackhawks organization itself, what Marián Hossa accomplished following his 2009 signing was nothing short of Hall of Fame worthy. Having already entered hockey’s most prestigious home, the only thing that remained was to see his legacy cemented in Chicago.
On Nov. 20, the Blackhawks officially retired Hossa’s No. 81. Fittingly, the celebration occurred prior to their game against another of Hossa’s former teams, the Pittsburgh Penguins.
Hossa was only with the Penguins for 32 games total in 2007-08, which included a deep playoff run wherein he earned 26 points throughout 20 contests. However, despite that obvious impact, what he went on to accomplish in Chicago is far more impressive.
Part of the exclusive group of seven to have won three Stanley Cups between 2010-2015 with the Blackhawks, Hossa’s postseason influence proved to be the piece missing from what then turned into a dynasty. As evidenced by the 48 points accumulated during the 2010, 2013, and 2015 playoffs — which included five game-winners — let alone his 57.1 Corsi for percentage (CF%) throughout that same span.
But that’s merely a small snippet of what he accomplished during his eight campaigns with Chicago. His stat line from 2009-10 to 2016-17 includes 186 goals, 229 assists, 415 points, 29 game-winning goals, 211 blocks, 348 hits, and 473 takeaways in the regular season alone. Simply stated, Hossa was one of the most effective two-way players of his time.
That he’s now among Chicago’s greatest, as only the eighth Blackhawk to have his name raised to their rafters, is more than deserved.
Surrounded by a number of familiar faces synonymous with those dominant Blackhawks rosters of the 2010s, including personalities that represented the club both on and off the ice, a humble Hossa was quick to share the spotlight with his peers. Although it was his night, he made it clear that he expects there to be more just like it in honour of the teammates that achieved Chicago’s peak alongside him.
Regula Reassigned to Rockford & Mitchell Recalled
Following a less-than-impressive recent stint with the Blackhawks, during which Alec Regula went pointless with three hits and six blocks, the defenseman has been reassigned to the American Hockey League’s (AHL) Rockford IceHogs. A move that presented an opportunity for Ian Mitchell to travel back to Chicago.
As a second-round pick in 2017, expectations have always been high for the former collegiate star. Unfortunately, throughout his first 48 games in the NHL over the past two seasons, Mitchell has done little to secure his spot. Touted as a dynamic offensive presence on the blue line, having earned only eight points through 2020-21 and 2021-22 just wasn’t going to cut it. A minus-13 rating didn’t help, either.
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That said, Mitchell seemed poised to leverage a fresh start this season. Despite having missed Rockford’s training camp and the first month of their season, the 23-year-old has certainly lived up to that anticipation upon his return to the IceHogs. Already up to five points and a plus-five rating after only three AHL games this season, that was enough to grant him additional playing time in Chicago.
“Coming into this year I’ve had a ton of confidence and my goal is, this was my year to make and lock down a roster spot,” Mitchell said on Nov. 4. “So my mindset now is, it’s just delayed and I’m just starting a bit later. I still have a ton of confidence and feel like I can help this team.”
Fans should prepare to witness a far more confident Mitchell than they have in the past. Fortunately, even if the Blackhawks struggle to remain relevant as a collective, having the future of their franchise blossom in the meantime offers a much-needed silver lining.
Chicago’s Reverse Retro Jerseys Debuted
Love them or hate them, onlookers now know the dates that they’ll get to see Chicago’s Reverse Retro 2.0 jerseys in action. First up, was their Nov. 19 contest against the Boston Bruins.
It would be unjustifiable to claim that these designs are overly creative, especially compared to the direction that some other clubs went with theirs. Clearly, that was a cognizant decision on Chicago’s part.
However, regardless of what these sweaters may lack, it’s not as though this squad doesn’t wear them well. Supporters will have their next opportunity to judge for themselves on Nov. 25 when the Blackhawks host the Montreal Canadiens.
With so little going right for the organization of late, it’s refreshing to at least have some optimistic and entertaining storylines to follow in the meantime. A mindset that this fanbase will be best to maintain the rest of the way.
Freelance thinker, paying too much attention to digital aesthetic. Oxford comma enthusiast. Spider-Man supporter. Sports fan, with two favourite hockey teams. If the Blackhawks and Maple Leafs ever meet in the Stanley Cup Final, you can find me wherever they’re playing that night.