Blackhawks News & Rumours: DeBrincat, Fleury, Reichel, Colliton

From being one of the league’s most beatable teams to now streaking alongside the NHL’s best, there has certainly been a shift in the type of content that the Chicago Blackhawks are forcing fans to focus on. After starting the 2022 calendar with four straight losses, they flipped the script and went unbeaten last week.

It may be too little, too late in terms of seeing any type of substantial success by season’s end, but that doesn’t mean they can’t still look to build off of their improved play. Battling ensures their youth have a more suitable system to develop within, while keeping their veterans engaged. It always makes more sense to compete.

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As the franchise looks to see how far it can carry this momentum, this edition of Blackhawks News & Rumours explores some of the storylines that got them here.

DeBrincat’s First NHL All-Star Game Appearance

For the first time in his young NHL career, and likely to be the lone Blackhawk representative at the event, Alex DeBrincat has been selected to attend the 2022 NHL All-Star Game.

Alex DeBrincat, Chicago Blackhawks
Alex DeBrincat, Chicago Blackhawks (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

Scoring at the fasted pace he’s achieved to date and illustrating an obvious elevation amid an increased workload, it only makes sense that he’s included among this elite group.

“In just five seasons, we have seen Alex grow and develop into an elite player and he is very deserving of this All-Star nod,” Blackhawks interim general manager Kyle Davidson said. “From the day we drafted him, he has shown hard work and dedication to improving his game and developing into the player he is today. We are so happy he is receiving this recognition and he will represent the Blackhawks well in Las Vegas.”

DeBrincat has already accumulated over 20 goals and more than 30 points prior to the mid-way mark of the season. The 24-year-old is not only developing into a reliable All-Star, he’s becoming the most important Blackhawk along the way.

Interestingly, this also marks the first time since 2008 that Patrick Kane will not be there. Further evidence that DeBrincat is, in fact, taking over as the face of the franchise. Rightfully so, too. They can still celebrate a successful past, but it’s time that the Blackhawks put more emphasis on their future plans. Recognizing that DeBrincat is leapfrogging Kane in importance is part of that process.

Fleury Reaches Major Shutout Milestone

Following what was one of Marc-André Fleury’s worst statistically starts, which included losing seven of his first eight as a Blackhawk and a .881 save percentage (SV%) in that span, he’s found his way back to form. So much so, that despite the Blackhawks only being at 15-18-5, Fleury himself is currently 13-11-2.

Marc-Andre Fleury, Chicago Blackhawks
Marc-Andre Fleury, Chicago Blackhawks (Photo by Brian Babineau/NHLI via Getty Images)

Fortunately for the club, they’re now benefitting from the version of Fleury that they expected to see — agile, competitive, dominant. In fact, if we focus on his stats from November and onward, the future Hall of Famer is among the league’s best across every major category.

Despite the Blackhawks having allowed one of the highest goal totals to this point in the campaign, Fleury has found a way to limit the opposition as he continues to reach additional milestones and climb every all-time list.

A 37-save performance against the Anaheim Ducks on Jan. 15 earned Fleury the 70th shutout of his career. Already among the game’s elite, and with time ahead of him to rise through those rankings, Fleury is now one of only 14 goalies in NHL history to reach that milestone.

Reichel Leaves an Impression in Chicago

Despite the fact that Lukas Reichel‘s debut stint with the Blackhawks was always positioned to be a short one, that doesn’t mean there was a lack of excitement to embrace throughout the experience. Frankly, that the 19-year-old was able to get into any NHL action so quickly is worthy of celebration.

Having been kept off the scoresheet during his two-game run doesn’t tell the full story. Reichel was able to average 15:23 of ice time and accumulate five shots in that span. Most impressive was the confidence he displayed playing alongside Kane, which meant he was forced to face the opposition’s best. Reichel proved to be more than up to the task.

Only the fourth German-born player to make it into a Blackhawks lineup, fans can rest assured that his debut performances worked to solidify that they’ll see much more of him in due time. For now, he’ll head back to the Rockford IceHogs and look to further his team-leading production totals.

Colliton Joins Team Canada at 2022 Winter Olympics

Having not heard much centred around Jeremy Colliton since Chicago let him go early on in the year, fans were surely surprised to see his name resurface when it came time to talk about the 2022 Winter Olympics. Colliton will be part of Team Canada’s coaching staff.

Jeremy Colliton, formerly of the Chicago Blackhawks
Jeremy Colliton, formerly of the Chicago Blackhawks (Photo by Gregg Forwerck/NHLI via Getty Images)

As a result of the NHL pulling out of the event, nations were forced to strategize in ways that differed from how they could have if the league was still taking part. Simply stated, having less talent to work with means squads have to be that much more creative.

With that said, while Colliton’s departure from the Blackhawks was justified, the 37-year-old is going to find his way back behind an NHL bench sooner than later. It may not have gone to plan in Chicago, but that doesn’t mean he can’t leverage the experience into making it work elsewhere.

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Colliton getting a chance to be part of Team Canada’s coaching staff offers him a perfect opportunity to pave a path back to the pros. Embracing the experience as an assistant is to his advantage, as he can worry less about navigating the spotlight and focus more on winning it back.

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