There’s a lot to be said about the “it” factor in the world. Does he/she have “it?” Who’s the new “it” girl? What is “it?”
That’s a fair question. What actually is “it,” especially when it comes to sports?
Is “it” the ability to lead a team? Is “it” the look, personality, and success to build a brand? Is “it” another word for being “clutch?” The world may never know. But for having “it” when the subject is Jeremy Colliton, head coach of the Chicago Blackhawks, there’s a lot of cloudy speculation to sift through.
• Steve Greenberg of the Chicago Sun-Times tried to dissect this notion of having “it” or not around Jeremy Colliton. The truth: no one knows yet. Colliton has been given the reins to a team that has been rudderless as an organization since he took over as head coach. It was a thankless job having to replace Joel Quenneville. It was also not in the plans to have to coach through a pandemic, play hockey in a bubble, and then when things get closer to “normal” you lose three players that would have been key to having any sort of success. All heading into the final year of Colliton’s contract with the Blackhawks. Might it be the rawest deal given to a head coach in the NHL? Probably not, but damn if it’s not up there on the list. World anomalies aside, this is a prove “it” year for Colliton as a head coach.
• And in this prove it year for Colliton, he’ll have 56 opportunities to prove it (theoretically) given the shortened season. The Blackhawks will have plenty of eyes on them nationally as NBC announced their nationally televised game schedule for the 2021 NHL season. Chicago will appear on NBC or NBCSN ten times in 2021, not a bad number for a team that was once the darling for NBC. Now, that title this season belongs to the Pittsburgh Penguins as they have a staggering 18 games on national TV this season.
• But let’s not get ahead of ourselves thinking about the games and TV schedules, there’s still *checks calendar* ONE WEEK until the opening of the season!
— NHL on NBC Sports (@NHLonNBCSports) January 6, 2021
• The Blackhawks open the season against the Tampa Bay Lightning in just seven days. Training camp continues, but we still have little-to-no clue what the opening night roster is going to look like. In Tuesday’s training camp session, the team ran a scrimmage to help get players into game shape, get their minds thinking about game situations, and give the goaltenders a chance to show what they can do, outside of getting torched in drills. The scrimmage also provided us with the much coveted LINES:
Blackhawks' lines and pairings for scrimmage:
These are being shuffled but that's how they started.
— Ben Pope (@BenPopeCST) January 5, 2021
• Behold the glory that is the maybe, kind of, sort of Blackhawks lineup, maybe. Ok, maybe glory isn’t the right word, but at least this is something to go off. The top line of DeBrincat-Strome-Kane is all but a lock to be the top line to start the season. It’s the best the Blackhawks can offer at this point. Also pretty much a lock is the fourth line of Highmore-Kampf-Carpenter, which saw under-the-radar success in the postseason. Everything else? Up for grabs at this point
• What’s peaking my interest with the forwards group is the second line of Kubalik-Suter-Shaw. Rookie of the year finalist Dominik Kubalik was expecting to start this season with Jonathan Toews as his center. Now, it looks like fellow Swiss National League MVP Pius Suter may end up being Kubalik’s setup-man.
— Charlie Roumeliotis (@CRoumeliotis) January 5, 2021
• It was Suter’s first day at camp on Tuesday and he was thrown right into the mix. The Blackhawks are hoping that they have struck European gold once again with him, following in the footsteps of Kubalik, Dominik Kahun, Michal Kempny, and most notable Artemiy Panarin. Kubalik led the Swiss NLA hockey league in points and goals and was named the league’s MVP in 2018-19. Suter did all the same in the 2019-20 season with 30 goals and 53 points in 50 games with ZSC Lions. He signed with the Blackhawks and now the hope is that he can be thrust into a significant role in Chicago and thrive.
• Speaking of striking Gold:
• CUE “WE ARE THE CHAMPIONS!”
• If you missed it last night, Team USA defeated Team Canada 2-0 in the World Junior Championship Final to claim the fifth Gold Medal in USA history! Chicago Blackhawks prospect Landon Slaggert helped Team USA in the win, despite producing zero points throughout the tournament. It wasn’t his role on the team to be the highlight producing goal-scorer. He was picked to be a gritty, fourth-line energy forward and he played the role perfectly. Congratulations to him and his Team USA teammates!
• It’s not all bad for Canadians though, you still have this guy:
How on earth was this only 1 year ago today pic.twitter.com/2he6hiaM3U
— Dimitri Filipovic (@DimFilipovic) January 6, 2021