The Blackhawks opened training camp today at the Fifth Third Arena and Team President of Hockey Operations and General Manager Stan Bowman addressed the Chicago media before the players took the ice. His first statement to the group to open the 2021-22 preseason:
The Blackhawks are 100% vaccinated against COVID-19.
— Charlie Roumeliotis (@CRoumeliotis) September 23, 2021
It’s great news for the club to be one of the teams in the league that has reached the 100% full vaccination level. This helps the Blackhawks avoid as many potential problems related to COVID-19 this season as possible, and, as Bowman put it in the presser, “shows the players’ commitment to try to be safe this season.”
Bowman spoke on the return of Jonathan Toews, as well. In a Zoom call with season-ticket holders on Wednesday, Bowman shared expectations for the returning Captain this season and reiterated the necessity to keep expectations low to start.
Bowman said the Blackhawks will work with Toews to figure out what he needs in terms of days off, etc.
"The schedule gets hard. We don’t know how he’ll handle it. He could handle it great and if he does, then that’s awesome. If not, then we’ll work with him to figure it out."a
— Mark Lazerus (@MarkLazerus) September 23, 2021
Making sure Toews is as fully healthy all season is going to be a dance for the Blackhawks training and coaching staff this year. We hear about workload management in the NBA, but it’s a concept that the club could learn from regarding Toews’ usage in 2021-22. If he’s able to be full-go for 82 games this year, all the better, but if he no longer can be the 20+ minutes a night guy for the Blackhawks, that has to be OK too.
Patrick Kane spoke this offseason about a “nagging” injury that he has been dealing with since the Edmonton bubble in the 2020 postseason. Even with dealing with this injury last season, Kane still finished tied for fifth in the NHL in points and led the Blackhawks with 66 points in 56 games. Bowman down-played the injury, calling it something a lot of players go through.
"I don't know if it's in Patrick's case, but a lot of players don't want to have surgery. … It's not something that he's that concerned about. It's just there."
— John Dietz (@johndietzdh) September 23, 2021
There is a rumor/report that came from the latest episode of NHL.com’s ‘@The Rink’ Podcast calling Kane’s injury a wrist issue, but that hasn’t been confirmed by Kane or the organization to be the problem. Hopefully whatever the issue is, Kane can play through it or have it no longer be a hinderance to him as he looks to move into third-place in Blackhawks history for goals (needs three more), second-place in Blackhawks history for assists (needs 36 more), and fourth-place in Blackhawks history for career points (needs eight more).
A position to watch this training camp for the Blackhawks is at goaltender. With the addition of Marc-André Fleury this offseason and the emergence of Kevin Lankinen last season, the top two spots in net for Chicago seem to be locked-up. But, the Blackhawks have four goaltenders that could all play in the NHL this season, and all four are on expiring contracts.
Bowman on having 4 waiver-eligible goalies:
"It's pretty clear right now who the top 2 guys are. As far as after that, we'll see how it shakes out, we'll see how health goes. You're going to need to use at least 3 goalies this year …so having depth there is not a bad thing."
— Ben Pope (@BenPopeCST) September 23, 2021
Depth is not a bad thing, no, but with the log-jam of Lankinen, Malcolm Subban, and Collin Delia behind Fleury, one would expect that Chicago will move on from one of those three to capitalize on potentially adding draft capital or at the very least some cap space as the season progresses.