Connolly Suspended, Original Six Shut Downs, No Border Crossing, and Other Blackhawks Bullets

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Connolly Suspended, Original Six Shut Downs, No Border Crossing, and Other Blackhawks Bullets

Chicago Blackhawks

The past week has been a rough one for the Blackhawks, the NHL, and the sports world as a whole. With the COVID outbreak affecting leagues around the world and placing more than 100 players, coaches, and staff members into NHL COVID Protocols, the league has implemented enhanced league protocols, closed U.S.-Canada border crossing, and has seven clubs shut down through the Christmas holiday break. Meanwhile the Blackhawks have so far escaped major COVID concerns, but lost twice this week and had a suspensions handed down to Brett Connolly.

•   After his hit on Tanner Kero Saturday night, Connolly was given a four-game suspension on Sunday evening.

•   Connolly will miss the rest of the scheduled games for Chicago through New Year’s Day and will forfeit $70,000 in game checks.

•   Two-thirds of the NHL is experiencing complications due to the current COVID outbreak, but somehow Chicago has come out unscathed at the moment. Made even more impressive after playing the Capitals and Predators recently, where both teams either had COVID cases spike after playing Chicago or the team was out-right shut down.

•   Yesterday, the NHL and NHLPA agreed to continue the season as scheduled, for the time avoiding a league-wide pause. Teams would be shut down on a case-by-case basis, as they are currently.

•   Part of the announcement yesterday, which also included postponing 12 games that required crossing the U.S.-Canada border, was the ongoing discussions surrounding league participation in the Olympics.

•   We’ve been talking about it for about two or three weeks now, but the slow-burn of the NHL pulling players from the Olympic Games is heating up.

•   The NHL could use that three-week break to help get the schedule back on track, assuming everything can be sorted out by then. But with the Olympics likely off the table, what would it mean for the All-Star weekend?

•   Yesterday, the NHL added two more clubs who would be shut down through the Christmas holiday break.

•   The Red Wings, housing the only unvaccinated player in the league, and the Maple Leafs make it seven clubs out of 32 that have had to be shut down due to COVID outbreaks in the last week.

•   I’ve made my stance clear over the past week, so I’ll stop bogging you down with it. I don’t know why the league has been hesitant to try together ahead of the outbreak, but at this point, it appears they are playing from behind and things will continue to get complicated.

•   The Blackhawks were supposed to play tomorrow night against the Panthers, but that game was postponed. They are now off until Thursday when they will host the Dallas Stars. It could be an opportunity for there club to reset their own health status with Calvin de Haan and Henrik Borgström having been out with non-COVID illnesses for a handful of games.

•   With the Blackhawks off on Tuesday, they’re sent Ian Mitchell and Josiah Slavin to the IceHogs yesterday with the likely intention to have both of them play in Rockford’s Tuesday night game and then have them come back to the Blackhawks by Thursday. At least for Slavin, that should be the case.

•   Slavin has quickly become a reliable fourth-line option for the Blackhawks. After being a seventh-round pick in 2018, he has rocketed up the prospect depth charts and is finding a home in the Chicago lineup at just 22-year-old. He turns 23 on December 31.

•   News off the ice for the Blackhawks as they will be involved in settlement talks today with representatives for “John Doe 2,” the Michigan high school student who was sexually assaulted by former Blackhawks video coach Brad Aldrich.

•   This comes after the Blackhawks and Kyle Beach reached a settlement earlier this month.

•   Hopefully, like Beach, “John Doe 2” can come to a settlement with the Blackhawks that is fair to them and can help them move forward in their life from the incidents and process what life can be beyond these terrible situations.

•   Chicago has made major changes to their organization this year, mostly due to the sexual assault investigations involving the club. They have an interim General Manager and an interim Head Coach. Once they figure out their front office personnel, they will likely then make their decision on who will be the next head coach in Chicago. If Derek King doesn’t retain the job, the Blackhawks could look to Rikard Grönborg, a highly respected European coach who has won every where he has coached.

•   This is not Alpo Suhonen 2.0. This is not another Jeremy Colliton. Grönborg has won Gold Medals as either an assistant or head coach with the Swedish National Team at the World Junior Championships, World Championships, and Olympics. He’s also coached ZSC Lions in the Swiss National League for the past three seasons, leading them to being the top team in 2019-20 in his first year as head coach. He’s been on the NHL coaching radar for a few years now, but there has yet to be a team that has brought him in. He’s had the backing from former Swedish NHLers like Daniel and Henrik Sedin, Niklas Lidstrom, and Mats Sundin to coach in the NHL. Maybe the Blackhawks continue their “outside the box” approach to their coaching and front office changes.

•   Speaking of intentional play, and a bad sign for the Olympics, Team Canada has pulled out of this month’s Spengler Cup in Switzerland.

•   Canada won the last Spengler Cup in 2019, led by former Blackhawk Kris Versteeg, as well as Chris DiDomenico, Matt Tomkins, and Ian Mitchell.

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

•   Go Bears!(?)

Author: Mario Tirabassi

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