Sights and Sounds: Blackhawks Open Training Camp

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Sights and Sounds: Blackhawks Open Training Camp

Chicago Blackhawks

Stop. Turn. Take a look around at all the sights and sounds!

Ok, so that’s not exactly the same lyrics, but close enough.

The Chicago Blackhawks opened the 2021-22 preseason with the first day of training camp on Thursday. If you’re like me, the sound of skates carving up the ice at the Fifth Third Arena and pucks slapping off stick blades gives you all kinds of feelings, like glitter is exploding inside you. (OK, I’ll stop now with the obscure references.)

With the return of hockey to Chicago, so came the return of Jonathan Toews to the ice with the Blackhawks. A sight for sore eyes, Toews looked right back at home with his teammates, old and new, out on the ice.

The Toews and Kane era of the Blackhawks continues for another season in 2021-22, but how will this chapter be written? After Toews missed all of last season, the heavy burden of carrying the club fell almost entirely on the shoulders of Patrick Kane. Something that neither have had to do for an entire season since they both made their NHL debuts back in 2007. With a “nagging” injury still lingering around for Kane, what can we expect from the team’s leading point-producer in 2020-21?

Not to be overshadowed by the return of Jonathan Toews, Thursday’s first day of training camp also gave us our first look at Marc-André Fleury in action for the Blackhawks. Following his acquisition this summer, Fleury comes into Chicago as the defending Vezina Trophy winner and looks to continue to play at the top of the NHL goalie class and make this season in Chicago, potentially his last, the best of his career.

And not to be overshadowed by the arrival of Fleury, Seth Jones also got his first taste of hockey in Chicago as he and younger brother Caleb hit the ice together on Thursday. The elder Jones will be the top defenseman for the Blackhawks this season and likely for the next handful of years to come after signing an eight-year contract extension upon his arrival in Chicago. He and Caleb have never played together on the same team in their lives, so this is going to be fun for the whole family.

Lukas Reichel made some waves at the Tom Kurvers Prospect Showcase, his first taste of North American hockey with the Blackhawks. He’ll look to carry that momentum into training camp and potentially earn himself a spot with the Blackhawks to begin the season. If you ask Stan Bowman, he’d be surprised if Reichel doesn’t play in Chicago at some point this season. I would be too.

So much attention is being paid to Seth Jones, Marc-André Fleury, and Jonathan Toews that a lot of people are sleeping on what might be one of the more underrated additions and improvements the Blackhawks made this season with Jake McCabe. His 2020-21 season was cut short due to a knee injury that required surgery. He looks good to me.

Another addition this offseason, Tyler Johnson started training camp running drills with Alex DeBrincat and Patrick Kane. So that’s probably getting him excited for his new opportunity with the Blackhawks after leaving the Tampa Bay Lightning.

Speaking of line combinations from day one of training camp, Jonathan Toews’ return to the ice saw him flanked by Dominik Kubalík and Brandon Hagel. Not to say that lines you see on day one of training camp hold too much weight, but this is a trio that I wouldn’t mind seeing in the regular season as well.

Jonathan Toews isn’t the only Blackhawk that missed all of last season and Jake McCabe isn’t the only player coming back from knee surgery. Alexander Nylander fits both of those categories. His first taste of hockey back with the Blackhawks came on Thursday as well. After an inconsistent 2019-20 season, hopes for Nylander were high before missing all of last season. Now he comes into 2021-22 with nothing guaranteed to him. Hopefully he will work and earn his way to NHL ice-time in Chicago.

The Blackhawks added Henrik Borgström at the trade deadline last season, but he was busy playing with HIFK in the Finnish Liiga. After not being able to get his NHL career off the ground with the Florida Panthers, the 2018 Hobey Baker finalist looks to make the most of a change of scenery and new opportunity with the Blackhawks.

From 2018 Hobey Baker Finalist to 2018 Hobey Baker Winner, Adam Gaudette also joined the Blackhawks at the trade deadline last season and after addressing off-ice health issues, Gaudette feels his health and game are where they need to be to make himself into a regular NHL player for the Blackhawks. If he can carve his way into the lineup, here’s to hoping Gaudette can be more than just another guy for the Blackhawks and be a more consistent contributor.

Finally, the newest “it-kid” in Chicago, 2021 first-round pick Nolan Allan got his first experience skating with the Blackhawks on Thursday as he prepares for the 2021-22 season. Although he is heading back to the Prince Albert Raiders in the WHL this season, Chicago has high hopes for the 2021 32nd overall pick to turn into a shutdown defenseman in the NHL someday soon.

I’m happy that hockey is back. I’m happy that the Blackhawks are back on the ice and I cannot wait until we drop the puck for the real thing on October 13th. Until then, let the preseason battles begin!

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Author: Mario Tirabassi

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