For the Chicago Blackhawks, training camp opened on Sept. 23, which means we are that much closer to the season starting. It is fun to see all the players arrive and look especially eager for the puck to drop. Something that sticks out about this training camp is that it is jam-packed. There are 63 players: 38 forwards, 18 defensemen and seven goalies. There are a lot of players fighting for limited spots, and some are even fighting for redemption. Training camp is always an eventful occasion for fans to witness, and Day 1 didn’t fall short. Here are takeaways from the big first day.
Groups & Pairings
Here is how head coach Jeremy Colliton lined up the first group.
Alex DeBrincat – Tyler Johnson – Patrick Kane
Dominik Kubalik – Jonathan Toews – Brandon Hagel
Dylan Strome – Ryan Carpenter – Jujhar Khaira
Philipp Kurashev – Kirby Dach – Lukas Reichel
Jake McCabe – Seth Jones
Wyatt Kalynuk – Calvin de Haan
Riley Stillman – Connor Murphy
Nicolas Beaudin – Caleb Jones
Other notable players such as Alex Nylander, Ian Mitchell, MacKenzie Entwistle, Malcolm Subban, Henrik Borgstrom, and Adam Gaudette were in the second and third groups.
You have to take lines and pairings in training camp with a grain of salt. Everyone gets shuffled around for the team to see what they have. The Blackhawks have a lot of different talent to work with. Therefore, these lineups could get a lot more interesting.
Someone that stuck out to me was Hagel. He was just signed to a three-year contract extension, and he has quickly become a fan-favorite last season for his gritty style of play and production. He is someone that doesn’t stick out to you as a top-six player. But, because the Blackhawks lacked depth last season, he was used in a top-six role quite often and rightly so. He was one of the few that seemed to gel with everyone. The Hawks added some major depth this offseason which made me believe his top-six role would be limited. Again, you can’t take these lines too seriously, but seeing him on the second line makes me wonder if the team wants to expand his role even more, this season. During training camp, this clip from Charlie Roumeliotis of NBC Sports Chicago shows him looking quite comfortable alongside Toews and Kubalik.
If Toews were to be in the lineup this season, I think that wouldn’t be a bad line to go with. They’re all familiar with each other in some way already, which could cause trouble for the opposition. It’s also great to see Hagel picking up right where he left off last season with some good looks.
Fleury is the reigning Vezina Trophy winner with three Stanley Cups. There isn’t much to worry about with him because, at 36-years-old, he’s still at the top of his game. We only saw snippets of him during training camp and I think it’s safe to say he’s still got it. He looks quick and sharp. He showed it during warm-ups and also during the two-on-two drills that were Hagel and Toews versus Strome and Khaira. He came up big to stop a goal up-front by Khaira. I’m looking forward to seeing how that translates into the scrimmage games come Friday and Saturday.
One of the biggest storylines going into training camp was Toews’ status. He stood out just by his presence. He has been through a lot missing all of last season with Chronic Immune Response Syndrome. His timeline is still unclear, so it’s important to remain patient as it’s a day-by-day process. But, he was skating and able to participate in training camp, and that is worth mentioning. Here is what he had to say during his media session, “As dog tired as I was out there today, it’s a good feeling. Instead of ‘Ok, I’m in trouble. I’m gonna end up on the couch for two, three days doing nothing after that. So to me, that’s progress, and it feels good to go out there and feel that.” (from ‘Blackhawks training camp, Day 1: 15 observations, from Jonathan Toews’ return to Jeremy Colliton’s early lineup’ – The Athletic – 9/23/21)
That is a wonderful quote from Toews. If you are dealing with something complex or chronic, it’s good to celebrate little victories. Big kudos to the captain for the day he had. I think the fans and his teammates alike were delighted to see him in his natural habitat again.
As general manager Stan Bowman stated, all 63 players were healthy and could fully participate before training camp opened. That was great news to start the day off. Unfortunately, there are now a couple of injuries to report.
- Jalen Luypen is a 19-year-old left wing prospect whom Chicago drafted in the seventh-round of the 2021 NHL Draft. During camp, he needed to be assisted off the ice and couldn’t bear much weight with his left leg. It is said that he appeared to take a puck off of his skate. Here’s to a speedy recovery for him and we hope to see him back on the ice soon!
- Kane mentioned in his exit interviews last season that he was dealing with an undisclosed injury. After training camp, he told that media that while that injury is still not healed, he is optimistic about his recovery and he doesn’t believe it will be a long-term issue. That’s good news and hopefully Kane will feel even stronger by the time the season starts on Oct. 13.
This training camp is sure to be an eventful one. Be sure to check back for updates on the scrimmages and the roster. The competition is heating up and it looks like it will be quite a show!
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Just a small town girl with Midwestern charm; combined with a love of dogs, writing, frappuccinos, Chicago-isms, sports, and a whole lot of Blackhawks hockey. Twitter: @brooke_lofo.