Listen, I’m going to talk about this right off the bat, because say what you will about the White Sox, Bears, Bulls, or Cubs right now, but last night was owned by another Chicago sports legend.
• The Best in the World is back!
• After seven years away from professional wrestling, and two UFC losses, Chicago-native and multi-time professional wrestling World Champion CM Punk returned to the ring at AEW Rampage last night at the United Center.
• Listen to that crowd. I don’t think the UC has been that loud in a long, long time.
• CM Punk (aka Phil Brooks) had been out of the professional wrestling world for a while after leaving the WWE in 2014 in a well-documented split. Punk, a Chicago sports super-fan, returned in true Chicago fashion, issuing his own version of the Michael Jordan “I’m back” fax…
— player/coach (@CMPunk) August 21, 2021
• Punk’s return to the ring was felt across not only the professional wrestling world, but the sports world as a whole. A die-hard Blackhawks fan, the club made sure to welcome Punk back to the profession in style…
Welcome home @CMPunk!
— Chicago Blackhawks (@NHLBlackhawks) August 21, 2021
• I’m not as big of a professional wrestling fan as I was when I was much younger, but I know a historic moment when I see it in the wrestling world. That was an unforgettable return last night.
• Oh, and he finally got his ice cream bars, which he shared with the United Center crowd.
— United Center (@UnitedCenter) August 21, 2021
• I hope that one day, the United Center gets that loud again for the Blackhawks or the Bulls.
• One person that could have a hand in making that hope and dream a reality is Blackhawks head coach Jeremy Colliton. After sitting back and watching Stan Bowman create a roster that looks like a Stanley Cup Playoffs contender on paper, Colliton is now going to be at the helm of an NHL roster that has high expectations. No longer in the category of “rebuilding,” the Blackhawks are now going to be expected to perform at a high level and many have aspirations of seeing postseason hockey back at the United Center this year.
• With all of the moves made this summer, Colliton joined the guys at NBC Sports Chicago on the latest Blackhawks Talk Podcast to discuss the offseason and what can and should be expected of the Blackhawks this season…
Jeremy Colliton Speaks: Blackhawks Offseason Moves, High Expectations for 2021-22, and Morehttps://t.co/cEENxbXBMQ
— Bleacher Nation Blackhawks (@BN_Blackhawks) August 20, 2021
• Colliton touches on the new faces in Chicago like Marc-André Fleury, Seth Jones, and Jake McCabe, as well as talks about Jonathan Toews’ return and what the new expectations of the team means to him as head coach. Highly recommend listening to the full podcast interview.
• Speaking of new faces, one of those new faces in Chicago (Seth Jones) wouldn’t be here without the trade that brought him to the Blackhawks which involved former 2018 eighth overall pick Adam Boqvist. And speaking of the 2018 NHL Draft, The Athletic’s Scott Wheeler self-evaluated his draft analysis and rankings from the 2018 Draft and re-selected the first round based on what we know so far about the players picked from that draft class.
My 2018 NHL Draft re-draft:
1. Buffalo: Quinn Hughes
2. Carolina: Andrei Svechnikov
3. Montreal: Rasmus Dahlin
4-31 (plus a review of my ranking at the time, changes since, new evaluations, and more): https://t.co/RsMTChvSkQ pic.twitter.com/yhvnCFwZBJ
— Scott Wheeler (@scottcwheeler) August 20, 2021
• In realty, the Blackhawks selected Boqvist eighth overall and Nicolas Beaudin 27th overall in that year’s first round. A number of other Blackhawks players wind-up in Wheeler’s re-drafted first round crop. Not to spoil much of the piece, which is well worth the full read, here are how the Blackhawks would have been impacted in the re-draft:
- 6th overall (Detroit): Adam Boqvist
- 8th overall (Chicago): Noah Dobson
- 25th overall (St. Louis: Philipp Kurashev
- 27th overall (Chicago): Liam Foudy
- 31st overall (Washington): Nicolas Beaudin
• I know a few people who wanted Dobson before the 2018 NHL Draft, and most of them say they still would take him over Boqvist if they had the chance to re-draft. Well now Boqvist has helped turn himself into Seth Jones, so maybe that desire to re-draft has been quelled. As for seeing Kurashev in a Blues sweater, ew, no thanks.
• Wheeler still having Beaudin land in the first round is interesting over a few names left on the board in the re-draft, who were taken in the first round in the real draft. With the loss of Boqvist to the Blue Jackets, Beaudin may arguably be the top defensive prospect in the Blackhawks’ system now. Maybe interchangeable with the likes of Wyatt Kalynuk and Ian Mitchell, but Beaudin has worked himself into the conversation at the NHL level after a shaky start to his professional career in the AHL in 2019-20.
— Blackhawks Talk (@NBCSBlackhawks) February 12, 2021
• Beaudin tallied his first two career NHL goals and six points in 19 games at the NHL level last season and will again be fighting for an NHL roster spot in Chicago this year. It’s unlikely he’ll start the year in Chicago, maybe, but if he doesn’t he will enjoy getting top minutes in the AHL with the Rockford IceHogs, and likely will be top of the call-up list for Chicago defensively this season.
• A Happy Blackhawks Birthday to Dominik Kubalík today!
— Bleacher Nation Blackhawks (@BN_Blackhawks) August 21, 2021
• Also worthy of celebration today is the U.S. Women’s National Team as they opened up the IIHF World Championships preliminary round with a dominant 3-0 win over Switzerland. Helping the cause for Team USA was Captain and Blackhawks Development Coach Kendall Coyne-Schofield, giving the U.S. a 2-0 lead in the second period.
• Blink and you’ll miss it indeed. Coyne-Schofield led the way for the U.S. with that goal and an assist in the game.
• After taking care of Switzerland, the U.S. is back in action on Sunday as they take on Finland at 8:30 p.m. CT on NHL Network.
• In news, thankfully, not tied to the Blackhawks, the Calgary Flames avoided arbitration with newly acquired defenseman Nikita Zadorov and signed him to a one-year, $3.75M deal yesterday.
Big Z: inked!
— Calgary Flames (@NHLFlames) August 20, 2021
• This is the third-straight one-year deal for Zadorov, on his third different team. After reportedly asking for just shy of $6M per year in his opening negotiations with the Blackhawks, the team decided it was better to part ways with the big defenseman and traded his restricted free agent rights to the Flames for a third-round pick. Smart move.
• Finally in NCAA news, after it is was announced earlier this week that Owen Power would be returning to Michigan after being selected first overall by the Buffalo Sabres, yesterday we found out he will be re-joined by a few other 2021 draft picks…
• Not only is the first overall pick coming back, but also Matthew Beniers, the second overall pick for the Seattle Kraken, and Kent Johnson, the fifth overall pick for the Columbus Blue Jackets, are both returning to Michigan. Good luck to the rest of the Big Ten and the Men’s college hockey scene.
• That will do it for today. Hope you all enjoy your Saturday!