The NHL Has a Serious COVID Problem, Gritty's Racy Portrait, Savard at 60, and Other Blackhawks Bullets

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The NHL Has a Serious COVID Problem, Gritty’s Racy Portrait, Savard at 60, and Other Blackhawks Bullets

Chicago Blackhawks

Y’all, this is exhausting.

Much like North America and, you know, the rest of the World, the NHL has a COVID problem.

•   As of yesterday, 90 players were listed on the NHL COVID Protocol list:

•   The Minnesota Wild were hit hard and are shutdown for the time-being.

•   Buffalo Sabres head coach Ralph Krueger this morning was added to the COVID Protocol list. The team is also on a temporary shutdown. As are the New Jersey Devils.

•   Reports from Emily Kaplan of ESPN and Elliotte Friedman of Sportsnet detailed new measures the NHL is taking to combat the outbreak and spread of COVID around the league. Included in these changes: (1) Deploying portable air cleaners behind the benches with HEPA filters, (2) Players and coaches no longer permitted to arrive at arenas more than one hour and 45 minutes before puck drop, (3) All meetings should be virtually conducted, (4) Additional locker room space for teams and their opponents (six feet between player stalls), and (5) Removing the glass behind team benches to improve airflow during games.

•   Whether or not these changes actually make a difference remains to be seen. I’m hopeful they work because having hockey is better than not having hockey but if we cannot have hockey safely then I’m OK with not having hockey.

•   Sadly, the NWHL was not able to complete their 2021 season. It’s just awful to see the hard work that the league and everyone involved put in, to not have an Isobel Cup Final for the second year in-a-row.

•   This all sucks.

•   Ok, shifting gears. Gritty:

•   Whoever is behind the Gritty costume deserves a raise. The content and entertainment is quality.

•   Happy 60th Birthday to Blackhawks legend Denis Savard!

•   We are one year away from the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics, COVID-pending, and it looks like the NHL will be sending players back to the Olympic games after missing the 2018 games. In that spirit, I went through the Blackhawks organizational depth to see who could be representing their countries in 2022. Spoiler: it’s more than just Patrick Kane.

•   Coming up tomorrow, the Rockford IceHogs begin their 30-game AHL season taking on the Cleveland Monsters….wait, what’s that? Not tomorrow? Saturday? Saturday. Not against Cleveland? Against Chicago. Oooookay.

•   Speaking of the Blackhawks farm system, Scott Powers of The Athletic profiled defensive prospect Jakub Galvas. The 21-year-old is playing his fifth professional season in Europe this year, playing with Jukurit in the Finnish LIIGA. In 190 professional games in the Czech Extraliga and Finnish LIIGA, Galvas has 11 goals and 49 assists. The Blackhawks hold his draft rights until June 1 and, as Powers reports, both Galvas and the Blackhawks expect to sign an entry-level contract by this offseason.

•   The Super Bowl is this Sunday, if you hadn’t heard. One of the biggest, if not THE biggest sports betting day of the year. Get in on the action with the DraftKings Illinois Sportsbook!

Author: Mario Tirabassi

Mario Tirabassi is a writer for Bleacher Nation. You can follow him on Twitter @Mario_Tirabassi.