Jones and Fleury Debut at NHL Media Tour, There's Hockey Tonight, and Other Blackhawks Bullets

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Jones and Fleury Debut at NHL Media Tour, There’s Hockey Tonight, and Other Blackhawks Bullets

Chicago Blackhawks

The NHL is conducting its annual preseason Media Tour in the city of Chicago this week. For people like myself, it’s essentially an event the personifies the moment in the opening song “Content” of Bo Burnham’s “Inside” when he shines his headlamp onto the disco ball. Literally, here’s all the content you’ve been missing over the summer.

•   And sometimes it’s not good news. According to a report from NHL’s Tracey Myers, Patrick Kane is still dealing with a minor injury that he says has been “nagging” him since the 2020 postseason in the Edmonton bubble. The Blackhawks are going to need 100% of Patrick Kane this season if they are going to have any hopes of making the postseason for the first time in a full 82-game season since the 2017 Stanley Cup Playoffs, a year we’d all like to forget.

•   Like I said, it’s not always good or fun news. Kane was asked by Mark Lazerus of The Athletic about the investigations being done by Jenner and Block into the Blackhawks scandals involving former video coach Brad Aldrich. According to Kane, and in contradiction to Nick Boynton’s comments, he knew nothing at the time and is cooperating with the investigation.

•   Another player the Blackhawks are going to need 100% of this season is newest goaltender Marc-André Fleury. After waffling this summer about playing in Chicago following an unexpected trade from the Vegas Golden Knights, Fleury is on-board for the final year of his contract playing with the Blackhawks, but that might be it. Fleury, the 2021 Vezina Trophy winner, says to Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman and Jeff Marek that the 2021-22 season “could be” his last in the NHL.

•   If this is the final year for Fleury, he’s going to go out with a lackluster mask. During the NHL Media Tour this week, we got our first look at Fleury’s new mask with the Blackhawks from designer Stephane Bergeron. To me, it could be better and it looks like a mask you could find as a generic template in EA NHL22. According to Bergeron, the Blackhawks put the kibosh on three other designs because of “racial tensions” in the designs.

•   Thanks to Ben Pope of the Chicago Sun-Times, it appears there’s some context to what was not allowed in the designs.

•   So while Fleury’s mask is going to be talking point for a bit, his new goalie pads on the other hand are amazing! The look mimics old school leather pads of yore and has some red, white, and black accents to give it the Blackhawks flavor. The pads, to me, seem to be an honorary memorialization of former Blackhawks legend Tony Esposito, who passed away in August. Or Fleury just likes the look on his own. Either way, A+ from me.

•   Here’s another look at his full setup for the 2021-22 season:

•   And it wasn’t just his full Blackhawks gear that looked great at the NHL Media Tour. Fleury’s suit coat had a next-level inner-lining that featured a picture of his kids. Fleury had a difficult decision to make following his trade to Chicago that would have involved uprooting his family from Vegas to Chicago. Ultimately the family made their way to Chicago and appear to be settled-in, according to Fleury.

•   Not only was Marc-André Fleury on display for the first time in Blackhawks gear yesterday, but so was new defenseman Seth Jones. After being traded to the Blackhawks and signing a massive eight-year contract extension, Jones is the new face of the blue-line in Chicago. He had an opportunity to see Zach Werenski, his former defensive partner in Columbus, while at the Media Tour.

•   The red and black looks good on Seth. With that eight-year extension, it better look good because it’s going to be a look that he’s going to wear for a long time. Chicago is hitching a big portion of its future wagon onto Seth and his ability to be a true No. 1 defenseman in the NHL. He’s been one before, and is still arguably one, but it hasn’t been the same for the past few years since Jones’ career-year with the Blue Jackets in 2017-18.

•   A defenseman that will likely join Jones in the NHL rotation in the near future is 2021 first-round pick Nolan Allan. The Blackhawks used the 32nd overall pick in this past summer’s draft on Allan and yesterday he signed his entry-level contract. He’ll slide his ELC this season and return to the WHL with the Prince Albert Raiders in 2021-22 and will likely be on Canada’s radar for the 2022 World Junior Championship team.

•   Allan, along with 23 other Blackhawks prospects are in St. Paul, Minnesota this week for the Tom Kurvers Prospect Showcase along with the Minnesota Wild. A mini-camp for the two teams respective prospects, the camp will feature two scrimmages between the prospects, with the first happening tonight at 7:00 p.m. and the other happening on Sunday afternoon at 1:00 p.m. You can find all the information on how to watch the games and who to keep an eye on for the Blackhawks here:

•   Another first-round pick to watch at the Prospect Showcase is Lukas Reichel. After spending the last two seasons in the DEL in Germany, Reichel comes to North America with a chance to make the Blackhawks roster on opening night. He’ll get his first chance to make an impression tonight and according to Rockford IceHogs head coach Derek King, who is coaching the prospects in Minnesota, Reichel will get time playing center this weekend.

•   And it’s great to see that Derek King still has his sense of humor after some challenging seasons in the AHL with the IceHogs.

•   Speaking of having challenges, after missing time due to lingering back injuries, former Blackhawk Zack Smith has announced his retirement from hockey.

•   From former Blackhawks to future ones, the 2022 NHL Draft is set to be held, in-person, in Montreal next summer on July 7th and 8th. Will the Blackhawks be in the lottery? Will they be picking in a playoff spot? Will they make another draft day trade? How many cringe-worthy moments will they provide? All questions to be answered in Montreal next summer.

•   Ending today with some potentially teaser news from the Premier Hockey Federation (formerly the NWHL):

•   Yes, I would very much be interested in a professional Women’s team being located in Chicago. Would be much, much easier to take my daughter to a game in the future without having to travel to the East Coast or waiting for the PWHPA to come to town.

•   That will do it for today. Hope you all have a great TGIF Friday!



Author: Mario Tirabassi

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