IT. IS. HERE.
That’s right, it’s finally gameday! The opening of the 2021 NHL season begins tonight at 7 p.m. for the Chicago Blackhawks as they travel to Tampa to take on the defending Stanley Cup Champion Tampa Bay Lightning. The last time the Blackhawks played against the defending Cup champions on opening night of the NHL season was October 5, 2017 against the Pittsburgh Penguins. Chicago won that game 10-1. So, that would be cool to do again tonight.
• Let’s start today with a big Happy Birthday to Blackhawks head coach Jeremy Colliton!
— Bleacher Nation Blackhawks (@BN_Blackhawks) January 13, 2021
• It would be a pretty cool set of birthday gifts for Colliton if he was to get a win tonight after getting a two-year contract extension yesterday.
— Chicago Blackhawks (@NHLBlackhawks) January 12, 2021
• Colliton’s job this season and into the next two of his extension is to coach through the rebuild and develop the next wave of Blackhawks talent. His contract expires at the same time as Jonathan Toews, Duncan Keith, Patrick Kane, and general manager Stan Bowman. If the Blackhawks are not back on the competitive track by the end of the 2023 season, or before, there could be an organizational reckoning.
• But that’s for future us to worry about, heh, right?
• The Blackhawks have landed in Tampa!
Blackhawks arrive for the first of a two-game “series” to open the season pic.twitter.com/OmvO9J5sn5
— Joe Smith (@JoeSmithTB) January 13, 2021
• Someone to watch tonight for the Blackhawks: Patrick Kane. Not that you probably weren’t going to pay attention to Patrick Kane anyway, but he’s got a chance to set Blackhawks history.
Kane’s 18 career points in Chicago’s season openers rank third in franchise history: Mikita (5G, 15A) and Hull (11G, 8A). pic.twitter.com/NPVxA0dX5V
— Chicago Blackhawks (@NHLBlackhawks) January 13, 2021
• Want to know more about the Blackhawks who are not named Patrick Kane? For the new fans, casual fans, or the diehards, here are a couple of breakdowns of the roster ahead of the 2021 season for the forwards, defensemen, and goalies. Enjoy!
• And who will make up the Blackhawks roster to begin the 2021 season you ask? We’ll we got you covered there too!
• This season is bringing a lot of new things to the table for 2021, including helmet ads for the first time. The Blackhawks announced today that their 2021 helmet sponsor will be *drumroll* United Airlines.
— Chicago Blackhawks (@NHLBlackhawks) January 13, 2021
• Much like what seems like half the league is doing, the Blackhawks are going with the same company that sponsors their home arena for the helmet ads. Along with the helmet sponsorship, the Blackhawks and United are launching a small business grant recovery program called “Support West” to help businesses affected by COVID-19.
• By the way, I called it: “The Chicago Blackhawks are still one of the few teams in the league yet to name a helmet sponsor for the 2021 season. Your guess is as good as mine as whom that sponsor will be, (come on Old Style) but likely it will be United Airlines.”
• Now I’m feeling even more confident in my predictions for the Blackhawks this season!
• How about a couple predictions about the NHL season ahead?
• Art Ross Trophy (Most points): Connor McDavid
• Hart Memorial Trophy (League MVP): Nathan MacKinnon
• James Norris Trophy (Best defenseman): Victor Hedman
• Vezina Trophy (Best goaltender): Andrei Vasilevskiy
• Calder Memorial Trophy (Rookie of the year): Alexis Lafrenière
• Frank J. Selke Trophy (Best defensive forward): Mark Stone
• Rocket Richard Trophy (Most goals): Alex Ovechkin
• Conn Smythe Trophy (Playoffs MVP): Nathan MacKinnon
• Stanley Cup Final Four: Avalanche (West), Lightning (Central), Maple Leafs (North), Penguins (East)
• Stanley Cup Final: Avalanche vs Lightning
• Stanley Cup Winner: Avalanche
• I hope all of these come true and while we’re on it I hope the season can go off without major issues in regards to COVID-19. The MLB and NFL ran into major issues at different points of their seasons and had to adjust on the fly to make it all work. The NBA is going through that process right now. For the NHL, I truly hope they learn from the other major professional leagues who are playing their seasons not in a bubble form (Hello, NWHL). We learned on Tuesday night that there had been 27 players test positive through the course of training camps, with 17 of those positives coming from the Dallas Stars alone.
— NHL Public Relations (@PR_NHL) January 12, 2021
• Ok, fun stuff to wrap this up. If you’ve been following the NHL on NBC Instagram account, you’ve seen their bracket tournament of the best home sweaters in the NHL, based on fan voting. Well they are down to their final matchup: Blackhawks vs Rangers
• In non-Blackhawks news, but staying in the Central Division, the Detroit Red Wings have a new Captain: Dylan Larkin.
Competitive. Driven. Dedicated.
Our captain. pic.twitter.com/p4NZonVzAP
— Detroit Red Wings (@DetroitRedWings) January 13, 2021
• When the NHL announced it would be playing outdoor games this season in February at Lake Tahoe, I was very excited. The scenery will be amazing and, I thought, “Wow, how will they make it work to skate on the lake?” Well luckily I wasn’t the only one who mistakenly thought the game would be on the lake…
— Peter Baugh (@Peter_Baugh) January 12, 2021
• Here’s to the Blackhawks not crushing my dreams, at least for tonight! See you for puck drop! GAMEDAY FOLKS!