Hope you are all having a good week. It’s a challenging time in the world and I hope you all are taking care of yourselves. I especially want to reach out to our East Coast and Gulf Coast readers and hope you are all doing OK through the storms and flooding we are seeing after Hurricane Ida swept through. We’re here to try to be an escape as the NHL season approaches.
• In fact, we are 40 days away from the opening face-off of the 2021-22 season, while the Blackhawks season begins in 41 days on October 13th!
— NHL (@NHL) September 2, 2021
• Oh, hi Marc. In the collage of NHL players to celebrate the countdown to the beginning of the season, the Blackhawks are represented by Marc-André Fleury, which is an interesting sight to see after Patrick Kane was basically the default Blackhawks player used in artwork like this for the past few years. No surprise there are high expectations for the reigning Vezina Trophy winner this season in Chicago.
• Feeding those high expectations this season will be defenseman Connor Murphy, who signed a new four-year extension with the Blackhawks earlier this week. Yesterday, Murphy spoke to the Chicago media following his new deal and his expectations for the club as they move forward beyond the “rebuild” and back, hopefully, into playoff contender status.
Connor Murphy Speaks: New Contract, Blackhawks Offseason Moves, Jonathan Toews, and Morehttps://t.co/XaNQKpg2dy
— Bleacher Nation Blackhawks (@BN_Blackhawks) September 1, 2021
• And yes, Murphy spoke to the media IN PERSON. What a time to be alive.
A real live press scrum! pic.twitter.com/UvRBIuwgNf
— Mark Lazerus (@MarkLazerus) September 1, 2021
• Murphy is going to be a formidable component in the Blackhawks’ top-four defensive group along with Seth Jones, Jake McCabe, and Calvin de Haan. It’s a veteran group that has a ton of focus on the defensive aspect of the blue-line, whereas in the recent past, Murphy had to usually be paired alongside more offensive-minded players and would sometimes be tasked with “babysitting” a developing defenseman (Adam Boqvist). But with a solidified top-four, Murphy will likely be right behind Seth Jones in usage this season and he is up for the task.
• Murphy also gave an update on what he is seeing out of Jonathan Toews since he has hit the ice with the Blackhawks Captain this summer…
Connor Murphy on Jonathan Toews:
"He looks great. It's cool to see. Right when he came in, he had the same drive and excitement he's always had to train hard and work on his game… It's nice to see him finally get rewarded to be healthy, back on the ice and ready to go."
— Ben Pope (@BenPopeCST) September 1, 2021
• Encouraging words. Which is basically all we can hang our hats on for the time being with regards to Toews. We are being told he has progressed to the point where he will be healthy enough to play in 2021-22, but to what degree, we don’t know yet and won’t know until he is on the ice. Which is hopefully opening night.
• If not by opening night on October 13th in Colorado against the Avalanche, hopefully it is by October 19th for opening night at the United Center.
• Speaking of which, the United Center announced today that if you are planning to attend a Blackhawks or Bulls game this upcoming season, you will have to provide proof of a full COVID-19 vaccination or a recent negative COVID-19 test.
UPDATE: The United Center will require all event attendees, including fans at @ChicagoBulls and @NHLBlackhawks games, to present proof of full vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test to gain access to the arena.
— United Center (@UnitedCenter) September 2, 2021
• We currently don’t know the full extent of what vaccination protocols will be for the NHL this upcoming season, but after last season’s move to get players, coaches, and staff vaccinated, I would venture a guess that pretty much every team has at least a majority of their players vaccinated. If the league is sending players to the Winter Olympics in February, they will need to be fully vaccinated to head to the games in Beijing.
Multiple sources confirm that a decision for NHL players to appear in the Beijing Winter Games will come this week. No one is confirming decision…but I as understand it, if NHLers go, all players and travelling personnel will have to be fully vaccinated
— John Shannon (@JShannonhl) August 30, 2021
• Following the news from the United Center, as well as NBA arena’s having restrictions for unvaccinated players, the NHL may not be far behind in implementing strict protocols for the 2021-22 season for vaccinated and unvaccinated players.
• Speaking of Captains and of the United (Airlines) Center, this is no way to treat the Captain of Team USA’s Women’s Team…
— Bleacher Nation Blackhawks (@BN_Blackhawks) September 2, 2021
• Kendall deserves better after coming home from the IIHF World Championships. Maybe the baggage handler had money on the U.S. winning Gold?
• Speaking of scandals, the Blackhawks just can’t avoid them, can they? On Wednesday, TSN’s Rick Westhead filed a report of a man who brought a lawsuit against the club for illegally scanning his face and storing his biometric data from face-scanning technology used by the team.
— TSN (@TSN_Sports) September 1, 2021
• It was a rather confusing report and there seemed to be missing information from the whole picture. But, just a few hours later, it was “resolved.”
UPDATE: A Blackhawks spokesman says the plaintiff in this lawsuit has agreed to voluntarily dismiss his case against the NHL team.
— Rick Westhead (@rwesthead) September 1, 2021
• Ok, I guess that’s that on that then.
• Finishing today with a good palate-cleanser, we turn to the Cam and Strick podcast with Andy Strickland and Cam Jansen. They had Arizona Coyotes forward Clayton Keller on a recent episode and he gave us a bit of insight to his teammate, the legendary two-time Stanley Cup Champion Phil Kessel…
We could all use a video of Phil Kessel throwin down a nasty dunk on somebody. Full interview with Clayton Keller out on all platforms. @camandstrickpod 👇👇👇 pic.twitter.com/FhqgzFj9t0
— Andy Strickland (@andystrickland) September 1, 2021
• Lest we forget the time that Kessel challenged Ryan Reaves to a game of one-on-one…
— Tim and Friends (@timandfriends) October 24, 2017
• “I can ball.” Phil is the best.
• That will do it for today. Hope you all have a good Thursday!