Reichel Skating Again, Gauging Olympic Interest, New Team USA GM, and Other Blackhawks Bullets

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Reichel Skating Again, Gauging Olympic Interest, New Team USA GM, and Other Blackhawks Bullets

Chicago Blackhawks

The Winter Olympics are coming up quick. As are the number of NHL players getting placed in COVID protocol. As are the number of cases around North America. I don’t know about ya’ll, but it really, really feels like just a matter of time before NHL and NBA games are once again without fans in the stands if things don’t turn back the other direction.

•   NHL players heading to the Olympics? That ship has sailed in my mind already. Yesterday, Blackhawks goaltender and potential Canadian selection Marc-André Fleury expressed his concerns over the potential protocols players will have to face in Beijing.

•   He’s not alone. Fellow Canadian John Tavares and many others are now publicly expressing their concerns and hesitations surrounding the upcoming Olympic Games.

•   But it’s not unanimous around the league. According to ESPN’s Emily Kaplan, a number of locker rooms are divided around the potential of going to the Olympics or not.

•   There is still about a month’s worth of time for things to play-out. The NHL has an opt-out date of January 10 to pull from the Olympics without facing a financial penalty. To me, it feels like players deciding not to go will happen before then.

•   Yesterday’s Blackhawks-Flames game was postponed due to a COVID outbreak with Calgary. Today, it got worse.

•   Add in Mat Barzal, Brad Marchand, and Devon Toews to the COVID list today, too. It’s not going well.

•   But in other Olympic news, Team USA has officially named Bill Guerin as the new U.S. Men’s Olympic Team General Manager, replacing Stan Bowman.

•   The U.S. currently has a “long-list” of 55 NHL players under consideration for their Olympic roster. Jack Eichel would normally be considered for Team USA in normal conditions. But he hasn’t played all season and underwent neck surgery a few months ago. His timetable to return would see him back on the ice just before the Olympics, so is he under consideration for Team USA now?

•   If (when) NHL players decide not to go to the Olympics, we will again see players not on NHL contracts playing instead.

•   Off the top of my head, that would potentially include former Blackhawks like Dominik Kahun (Germany), Artem Anisimov (Russia), Tomas Jurco (Slovakia), and Marcus Kruger (Sweden).

•   As for non-NHL Team Canada, they have their rosters for the Spengler Cup and Channel One Cup set, along with their coaching staffs for those tournaments. Included is a familiar Blackhawks name…

•   Good for Jeremy.

•   Also good news for the Blackhawks organization today as the Rockford IceHogs have announced that Lukas Reichel, along with Arvid Söderblom and Dylan McLaughlin, will all be rejoining the team soon as they have been removed from concussion and COVID protocols.

•   Reichel has been the best IceHogs player this season prior to his concussion two and a half weeks ago. He leads the team in goals and points, still, even after missing a handful of games. Due to his concussion, he was left off of Team Germany’s World Junior Championships roster, again, after missing last year due to COVID. He’ll hopefully be rejoining the IceHogs on the ice soon.

•   One of the other players from the IceHogs that has led the team in point-production this season is Brett Connolly. Recently recalled to the Blackhawks, Connolly is getting a major opportunity to prove that he can live up to his contract and stick in the NHL with Chicago.

•   In today’s morning skate, Connolly was playing along with Brandon Hagel and Jonathan Toews on the second line and was getting time on the second powerplay unit. So yeah, big opportunity.

•   Also getting a major bump in responsibility is Dylan Strome. For the second morning skate in-a-row, Strome was on the Blackhawks’ top line with Alex DeBrincat and Patrick Kane on his wings.

•   Strome was also on the top powerplay unit for the Blackhawks today, so a lot of opportunities being given out by interim head coach Derek King for players to prove themselves worthy of major minutes in Chicago.

•   Some important information from The Athletic’s Scott Powers in his latest post regarding the beginning of the mediation process, starting tomorrow, in the lawsuit involving the Blackhawks and Kyle Beach.

•   Also mentioned in here is news of a potential Sportsbook addition coming to the United Center. Something to keep an eye on.

•   Oh, hey, forgot about that baseball lockout going on. Well, here’s the latest:

•   When do pitchers and catchers report?

•   That will do it for today. Hope you all enjoy your Tuesday!

Author: Mario Tirabassi

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