Officially No NHL Participation in the Olympics, Kane and Fleury Antics, and Other Blackhawks Bullets

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Officially No NHL Participation in the Olympics, Kane and Fleury Antics, and Other Blackhawks Bullets

Chicago Blackhawks

The NHL originally had ten games on the schedule for yesterday, December 21, but with the rise in COVID cases leading to the shut down of numerous teams, only one of those ten games was played. That’s been the reality of the NHL over the past week and half. It was all coming to a point when the season needed to be paused and the dreams of seeing NHL players at the Olympics again would be dashed. Now the NHL is “off” until December 27, when the league hopes to resume as normal, whatever that means.

•   Today, it was made official what we had all been expecting for some time: No NHL participation at the 2022 Winter Olympics.

•   The full release from the league and the NHLPA…

•   Now, the three-week break that was supposed to be for the Olympics following the NHL All-Star Weekend, will be used to make-up over 50 postponed games. Three of which will need to be made up for the Blackhawks, all home games.

•   Speaking of home games, the United Center will have updated health requirements starting on January 3, in accordance with new City of Chicago requirements.

•   Proof of a full COVID vaccination is now what you will need to provide to see Bulls and Blackhawks games. No longer will the recent negative test option be available for fans.

•   As for the Blackhawks, they begin their Christmas holiday break relatively unscathed by the rise in COVID cases. Only Calvin de Haan has been placed in COVID protocol leading into the league’s pause. Knock on wood that it stays that way when the team reconvenes on December 27…

•   The schedule for the Blackhawks coming out of the pause looks like this…

•   Chicago held their final practice before the Holiday break yesterday and we saw Jujhar Khaira return to the ice for the first time since his concussion against the Rangers earlier this month.

•   Great to have him back skating with the team, but he is not going to be thrust right back into the lineup, according to Derek King.

•   Also back on the ice for the first time in a long time, Henrik Borgström has finally gotten over his case of “bad shrimp.”

•   It would be great to have the Blackhawks come back from the Holiday break with as close to a full-strength lineup as possible. They will resume the season with a 11-15-4 record, sitting in seventh in the Central Division and ten points out of the second wildcard spot in the Western Conference.

•   Having two future Hall of Famers going against each other in practice every day has been treat to watch this season between Patrick Kane and Marc-André Fleury. It has also been a treat to see their competitive relationship grow throughout the year.

•   That’s just great stuff. Fleury was on NHL Network recently, calling Kane’s shot one of the hardest to stop that he has ever faced.

•   Pretty high praise from a guy who has gone against Sidney Crosby, Phil Kessel, and Evgeni Malkin in practice every day before.

•   More COVID shut downs in the hockey world as the AHL has once again had to cancel their All-Star weekend that was set to be held in Laval, Quebec.

•   This is the second time that Laval has missed out on hosting the AHL All-Star weekend. The Rockford IceHogs might not have many All-Star caliber players on their AHL roster, but Lukas Reichel may have had a real case to be involved in the AHL All-Star weekend festivities this year.

•   Speaking of prospects and COVID impacts, the upcoming World Junior Championships will be held to 50% fan capacity this year, with the tournament being held in Red Deer and Edmonton in Alberta.

•   This was supposed to be the “make up” tournament for Red Deer and Edmonton, after last year’s World Junior Championships was held there with no fans. This year’s tournament was originally supposed to be held in Gröteborg, Sweden, which will now host the 2024 tournament.

•   The Blackhawks have four prospects headed to the World Junior Championships this year, with three of them playing with Team USA. Landon Slaggert returns to the U.S. team to help defend the 2021 Gold Medal, while Wyatt Kaiser and Drew Commesso join him.

•   Yesterday, Team USA announced their leadership group for this year’s tournament, and Slaggert was named as an alternate captain.

•   Team USA opens the tournament on December 26 against Slovakia, while Michael Krutil and the Czechs open the tournament on the same day against Team Canada.

•   Want a good laugh to end today? The Anaheim Ducks had some fun with their Holiday greetings this year.

•   Trevor Zegras cannot help himself from getting meme’d this year, it seems.

•  Hey, Cubs fans … something to maybe start getting excited about:

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

Author: Mario Tirabassi

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