With the uncertainty of when we’ll see the NHL begin the 2020-21 season, it may seem as though there’d be a shortage of things to talk about. Fortunately, the Chicago Blackhawks find ways to keep us engaged. Unfortunately, though, that attention isn’t all positive for the franchise these days. Either way, news continues to circulate as fans look ahead to the days when their team will be ready to compete again.
Happy Birthday, Showtime!
We’ll kick off today’s edition of news and rumours with some optimism in wishing a happy belated birthday to Patrick Kane, who celebrated his 32nd on Nov. 19. With an AAV of $10.5 million and three more years of paydays on that deal, I’m confident he was able to find a fitting way to celebrate.
Despite my recent write-up that explored what it would look like to see the Blackhawks trade Kane to his hometown Buffalo Sabres, Chicago is clearly still at an advantage with him there. He’s already achieved legendary status for this franchise and throughout the league as he continues working his way up a number of achievement ladders.
With the Blackhawks concentrating their focus on developing this roster, they need to prepare for struggles next season. However, at least they can rest assured that the on-ice entertainment won’t suffer for as long as Kane remains in Chicago’s lineup. His trajectory of production has yet to fall off and there are no signs that it will any time soon, even as he competes through his early 30s.
Introducing Baby Kane
Keeping with the theme of good news surrounding Kane, in what had to be a consciously timed communication he chose his birthday to post a short and sweet announcement introducing his baby son to the world. Along with their newborn, he and his girlfriend Amanda posed for what’s likely one of their first family photos together. His namesake, Patrick, was born on Nov. 12.
It will be interesting to see if being a father has any influence on Kane’s play this coming season and throughout the rest of his career. He had already made visible strides with his maturation over the years in this league and time will tell how much more of a leader this can turn him into, both on and off the ice. Congratulations to all!
Toews Still a Fan Favourite
The NHL Network recently released rankings of the top 20 centers in the league. Up first was their list compiled via fan vote, which had Jonathan Toews land at a respectable 14th. For a star who hasn’t been surrounded by much success as of late, his value is still appreciated by those who witness what he can do. Perhaps it’s the passion he consistently displays, his obvious leadership through all circumstances, or the fact that he continues to dominate in the faceoff circle.
As nice as it is to see fans recognize Toews as one of the best in today’s game, the NHL Network apparently doesn’t share that sentiment. In their rankings, Toews didn’t make the cut. There is no denying that his peak playing years may behind him.
However, I find it hard to believe that Toews doesn’t deserve to be amongst those who found their way into this club. He remains an effective centreman who can teach, mentor, and produce. Every team in the league would be better with him on their roster.
New Arrival for Their Newest Member
One of Chicago’s newest additions has been shipped a special delivery, so he can familiarize himself with the franchise in more ways than one this offseason. Nikita Zadorov was recently acquired in a trade with the Colorado Avalanche, which saw Brandon Saad head back the other way in his most recent departure from the organization. (from ‘The inside story of the Blackhawks’ Brandon Saad-for-Nikita Zadorov trade,’ Chicago Sun-Times, 10/22/2020)
The Blackhawks hope Zadorov will bring forth a familiarity that goes beyond just sticking with his No. 16, in anticipation that he’ll add some much-needed strength to their blue line. As skeptical as I’ve been of the move, in not knowing how he would help their efforts towards youth development, I have to admit that Blackhawks gear is a good look for Zadorov.
Chicago’s International Representation
Admittedly, it came as a surprise to me that Kirby Dach was invited to Team Canada’s camp in preparation for this year’s World Junior Championships. And not because I feel he shouldn’t be there. I simply overlooked the fact that he’s still only 19, given how played and progressed throughout his rookie campaign.
Team Canada will certainly benefit from Dach’s presence, as he suits up alongside a set of top-tier prospects like Quinton Byfield, Dylan Cozens, and Jamie Drysdale. As the Canadians prepare for one of hockey’s most anticipated annual tournaments, Dach has wasted little time showcasing the skill set he adds to their mix.
In an unexpected turn of events, Dach and Cozens both showed up late to practice on Thursday. Although being delayed due to treatment would otherwise be a legitimate excuse for tardiness, the issue became one because they didn’t properly communicate their timeline. What happened next could prove to be a pivotal point in their progression as professionals:
When the pair arrived, the coach gave them the option of joining late or setting an example for the entire group by sitting out. They opted to leave. “That showed a lot of humility and courage,” Tourigny said.
Taking things overseas, Chicago’s first-round pick from the 2020 NHL Entry Draft has also been selected to his respective country’s national team. This will be Lukas Reichel’s second time in as many years playing for Germany in this competition. Having recently been drafted by the Blackhawks, he’ll look to leverage that boost of confidence and produce even more than the five points he earned through seven games at 2019’s World Juniors.
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