As training camp gets underway for the Chicago Blackhawks, onlookers are that much closer to witnessing the reality of what this roster may — or may not — be capable of this season. While progress is most pivotal for a rebuild, whether Chicago’s 2022-23 lineup also finds a way to remain watchable is yet to be seen.
Somehow, though, the franchise continues finding ways to leverage its most prominent names in a way that keeps us engaged and entertained in the meantime.
In this edition of Blackhawks New & Rumors, newcomers looking to earn their keep are already finding ways to share the spotlight with those who have done more than enough to celebrate their legacy.
Toews & Kane Continue to Represent Blackhawks Well
Despite the headlines that have suggested Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane are anything but happy remaining part of this group, recognizing the road ahead as it rebuilds, both continue to show up when called upon. As good leaders do.
In an effort to give the community a reason to celebrate, the Blackhawks organization put together a special event for the Highland Park Giants hockey team. All players became recruits for the day, trained at Fifth Third Arena, toured the Blackhawks dressing room, were coached by Luke Richardson, and even enjoyed a couple of special guest appearances.
Regardless of the fact that both stars are likely less than enthused regarding the current state of Chicago’s roster and the turmoil it’s about to face, Toews and Kane clearly recognize that there are priorities that stretch beyond their team’s on-ice struggles.
Good on the two of them, and the organization as a whole, for coming together to provide such an uplifting experience for a community that deserved and needed it.
Domi Slots Into Top Line Beside Kane
There are not always many interesting takeaways when it comes to hockey-related press conferences, let alone those that are scheduled pre-camp. Good thing new head coach Richardson wasn’t shy when it came to letting those willing to listen know how he sees Chicago’s top-line shaping up for their first puck drop.
Yet, while 33-year-old Kane has earned his seemingly permanent spot among the NHL’s most feared wingers, it’s not as though Max Domi has done much to impress of late. That said, though, denying the former first-round pick’s rebound potential would be a mistake given what he’s proven at his peak and the opportunity he now embarks upon in Chicago.
The reality is, despite being able to easily predict that the Blackhawks will be battling for the bottom of the league throughout the year, that doesn’t mean they won’t enjoy some strong individual performances along the way. While it’s certainly expected of Kane, those that line up alongside him have a responsibility to align with his efforts.
In his most productive year to date, Domi scored 28 goals and added 44 assists for 72 points in 2018-19 while on the Montreal Canadiens. A year in which he spent most of his time in a trio that included Jonathan Drouin and Andrew Shaw. Neither of whom was anywhere close to being as important of a linemate as Kane has proven to be.
Since that peak in 2018-19, Domi’s stat line has experienced a gradual decline. So it will be that much more interesting to see what he is able to accomplish, playing with a superstar like Kane who creates chances as few others can. At only 27, Domi has a chance to prove that he’s far from past his prime and that the Blackhawks will see the best version of him to boot.
Let the debates begin, for who is best suited to ride alongside what could become one of the most underrated lines in hockey through 2022-23.
Hossa’s Number Rising to the Rafters
One of the most impactful Blackhawks during their dynasty run through the 2010s, especially when they needed it most, it was only a matter of time before Marián Hossa‘s number was raised to the United Center’s rafters.
“To me, the greatest free agent signing in Chicago sports history, Marian was the franchise’s missing piece,” Blackhawks chief executive officer Danny Wirtz said April 5. “Both on and off the ice, he made an indelible mark on his teammates and our organization. My family is forever grateful for the contributions Marian made to the Blackhawks. His humble demeanor and vaunted work ethic was everything we could have asked for and more in a superstar when we signed him in 2009.”
The event will take place on Nov. 20, prior to Chicago’s game against the Pittsburgh Penguins. Perhaps it would be more fitting for the former first-round pick to celebrate the achievement before a match against the Ottawa Senators, given that Hossa spent his first seven seasons with Canada’s capital. However, that it’s happening against the Penguins still holds relevance as he did help ignite their run to the 2008 Stanley Cup Final.
Regardless of who the Blackhawks are up against, the day will be all about Hossa either way. As it should be. It’s not just that Hossa scored his 500th in a Blackhawks uniform, either. While his regular season presence was always felt throughout his eight years in Chicago, what he brought to the playoffs was vital to the organization’s collective success.
What’s more, Hossa’s 73 points in 107 postseason contests don’t quite capture the dominance he displayed en route to helping the Blackhawks capture three Stanley Cups within a six-year span. His timely game-winners, on the other hand, help shape the narrative a little more accurately.
Although Hossa is absolutely deserving of this honour, that he’s next in line is sure to create more questions than answers for those who have been following the franchise since well before his arrival. Despite those Blackhawks teams having not won any Cups, it’s not as though there was a lack of legends in the making who performed at their peak while in Chicago. Yet, many still remain off this prestigious list.
Nevertheless, the organization’s oversight in this regard is far from Hossa’s concern. Especially when it comes to celebrating his worthiness of the recognition. Entering the Hockey Hall of Fame as a Blackhawk was one thing, but getting to witness his legacy for the franchise forever solidified in such a manner heightens his celebrity in Chicago.
It’s safe to say that there are at least a couple of current Blackhawks who will be right up there alongside their former teammate when they call it a career. It just won’t be as a result of what Chicago accomplishes throughout 2022-23. Nevertheless, let’s see if training camp offers up any other surprises that may make it a more intriguing year to follow.