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Jonathan Toews Playing His Role, More Lawsuit Updates, and Other Blackhawks Bullets

Chicago Blackhawks

Two days off between Blackhawks games has felt like two weeks off. When you’re watching a winning hockey team, you want to watch them as often as possible. Funny how that works, eh?

The Blackhawks have won both games under interim head coach Derek King, both in extra time, and have a small winning-streak heading into tonight’s contest against the Arizona Coyotes. Chicago and Arizona were the final two teams to earn wins this season, but now the Blackhawks have themselves a solid five-point cushion between them and the Coyotes for last-place in the Central Division and the NHL. Hey, it’s something.

•   One of the major storylines to begin the season, outside of the amount of losing the Blackhawks have been doing, the coaching changes, the front office changes, and the lawsuits, has been the play of Jonathan Toews. After missing the entire 2020-21 season, Toews came back to Chicago this season with a cloudy outlook of what to expect from him. So far through 14 games this season, he has done everything the Blackhawks have needed him to do, except score a goal.

•   Toews is playing the fewest minutes per game of his career this season, but is still a fixture on both the powerplay and the penalty-killing units for Chicago. Making the most of his 17:51 minutes per night has been an effective measure for his usage this season as he still is likely getting back to full speed on the ice, full speed to his standards. He’s also winning faceoffs at the highest rate of his career so far this season as well. The goals will come, just hopefully sooner rather than later.

•   In off-ice news, the Blackhawks, Kyle Beach, and John Doe 2 continue their frustrating legal process. Even after the findings of the Jenner and Block investigation were made public and the Blackhawks dismissed Stan Bowman and Al MacIsaac, the sides are still working to find the proper conclusion to this story. On Thursday evening, we learned that the two sides are not close to a resolution yet as settlement talks have been contentious to begin. At the same time, the Blackhawks are operating like soulless ghouls when it comes to the treatment of John Doe 2 when looking to provide the medical help he deserves.

•   If the organization truly sympathized with John Doe 2 on a human level, they wouldn’t need to validate his experience following the sexual assault by Brad Aldrich by going through medical records, school transcripts, or income records to see if he really was affected by it. Think about that, on a human level, for a second.

•   It’s messed up. For more information on where the two sides stand, here is the latest from Mark Lazerus of The Athletic:

•   I’m getting sick of talking about this legal process, not because I’ve grown tired of the subject, but because I continue to get physically ill from the actions by the Blackhawks organization.

•   In prospect news, Scott Powers of The Athletic goes through his observations of the prominent IceHogs in the Chicago farm system. We’ve talked about the plan for Lukas Reichel this season after his hot start to the year, but what to make of the rest of the top prospects in Rockford?

•   Wyatt Kalynuk scored in his first game of the season with the IceHogs after coming off of LTIR. He will likely rejoin the Blackhawks soon as he gets back up to game speed. He will have some competition for ice-time with the Blackhawks since Caleb Jones is also close to returning to health and Erik Gustafsson is not going to just let his spot in the Chicago defensive rotation go for nothing, even if he’s played under 15 minutes combined over the past two games.

•   Continuing down the prospect system in Chicago, the 2022 World Junior Championships are still a month and a half away, but it’s not too early to ponder which Blackhawks prospects might be in the lineup for the countries represented. The Athletic’s Scott Wheeler made his initial predictions for the major five nations (USA, Canada, Russia, Sweden, and Finland) and just three Blackhawks made the list. All three on Team USA.

•   Outside of the major five nations, Germany, the Czech Republic, Switzerland, Slovakia, and Austria will also be competing in the 2022 tournament in Alberta, Canada. There is a chance that, along with Landon Slaggert, Drew Commesso, and Wyatt Kaiser for Team USA, Lukas Reichel (Germany) and Michal Krutil (Czech Republic) could join their countries at the tournament. Both are currently with the IceHogs and if Reichel is not with the Blackhawks by Christmas, as I said he would be before the season, then Chicago may allow him to play as a top member of the German side.

•   In league news, the Ottawa Senators are going through a major issue with COVID right now. As it stands, the Senators have nine players out due to COVID protocols.

•   Ottawa played last night against the Los Angeles Kings, depleted roster and all, losing 2-0. They are 3-9-1 on the season and are playing without a number of key players. It’s almost comical that the NHL is forcing them to continue to play with this many players and an assistant coach out with COVID.

•   We knew this was possible, even with all the measures the league put in place to try to avoid this kind of outbreak within a single team. Hopefully all involved can recover quickly and properly and get back to health and back on the ice. The Sens are back in action on Sunday.

•   The Columbus Blue Jackets will be retiring Rick Nash’s No. 61 retired on March 5, 2022 this season. Nash played 674 of his 1,060 NHL games with the Blue Jackets and scored 547 of his 805 career points. He split the Rocket Richard Trophy with Jarome Iginla and Ilya Kovalchuk as a 19-year-old in the 2003-04 season while with the Blue Jackets.

•   And a fun fact, Nash made his NHL debut on October 10, 2002 in a home game against the Chicago Blackhawks. He scored and the Blue Jackets won. Nash played against the Blackhawks 64 times in his career, the second-most of any NHL club behind the Red Wings (68). He also scored 27 goals and 55 points in those 64 matchups, the most goals and points against any club in his career.

•   Mentioning the Blue Jackets, former Columbus coach John Tortorella is settling into his new role with ESPN, though he may not be there long as already there will be a coaching vacancy with the Blackhawks next summer that he may fill. In the meantime, it didn’t take too long into the season for Torts’ first bad take on ESPN. When talking about Connor McDavid and his playing style, which for the record is the highest-skilled of any player in the NHL right now and maybe ever, Tortorella thinks he needs to change it to succeed in the postseason. Playing a more two-way game and sacrificing a bit of his world-class, untouchable offense, to play some defense…

•   Sure, Jan.

•   Also, Tortorella says that McDavid needs to not worry so much about not getting calls in the postseason, which he never does. On cue, McDavid was clearly tripped in last night’s game against the Bruins and did not draw a penalty on the play.

•   Can’t make that up.

•   An awesome moment last night as Zach Fucale, at 26-years-old, made his first NHL start for the Capitals last night. And in another moment you can’t make up, Fucale earned a 21-save shutout over the Detroit Red Wings.

•   As you see in the graphic, Fucale is the first goalie to earn a shutout in his NHL debut since 2015. And speaking of 2015, Fucale becomes the last member of the 2015 Gold Medal Canadian World Junior Championships roster to make their NHL debut.

•   File this under things you love to see.

•   That will do it for today. Hope you all enjoy your Friday and enjoy the new (old) Taylor Swift album, if that’s your jam.

•   A reminder about tonight’s Blackhawks-Coyotes game…

•   No cable or over-the-air broadcast tonight. Puck drops on ESPN+ and Hulu only, at 7:30 p.m. CT!



Author: Mario Tirabassi

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