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Reichel’s Plan, What’s Up With Kane? Hot Mic, and Other Blackhawks Bullets

Chicago Blackhawks

This summer, there was a ton of excitement surrounding the Chicago Blackhawks, for what was happening on the ice, when the team added Seth Jones and Marc-André Fleury. The expectations were high. They have failed to reach those expectations so far this season and at different points of the year, it’s been a drag to watch this team. There needed to be an injection of excitement to a team that is 13-18-5 and not contending for a playoff spot.

So we get Lukas Reichel.

•   The 2020 first-round pick by the Blackhawks was recalled from the Rockford IceHogs yesterday and will be making his NHL debut with the club tonight when they host the Montreal Canadiens. Reichel’s rookie season, outside of dealing with COVID, has been everything the Blackhawks organization and fans could have hoped for. In 20 AHL games, he leads the IceHogs in goals (11) and points (20).

•   But, Chicago is not planning to keep Reichel around with the Blackhawks very long. Yesterday, interim head coach Derek King likened the development plan for the 19-year-old to be a marathon, not a sprint.

•   It’s the right call for Reichel, to be honest.

•   Yes, we’d love to see what he can do at the NHL level for the rest of this season, playing in the remaining 46 games for the Blackhawks. But that wouldn’t be the best for him or for the club. Reichel is a good player and will likely be a solid NHLer for Chicago and a key piece to the future Blackhawks puzzle. But he’s not saving this season. And if he plays more than nine games, the Blackhawks then burn his first year of his entry-level deal, making his window for a new contract the 2024-25 season, instead of having the deal “slide” another year and extending the window to the 2025-26 season.

•   Reichel’s move from Rockford to the Taxi Squad was one of a number of roster moves made by the organization yesterday.

•   Reichel still needs to be moved to the active roster officially, but that is expected to happen today ahead of the game against Montreal. Also coming back to the active roster for the Blackhawks are defenseman Erik Gustafsson and goaltender Kevin Lankinen, both coming off of COVID protocol.

•   At yesterday’s morning skate, Reichel was centering the top line for the Blackhawks between Dylan Strome and Patrick Kane. Talk about a debut! While it won’t be a long-term trio, and might not be where Reichel even plays officially, it’s probably a dream for the rookie to play his first NHL game with future Hall of Famer Patrick Kane on his wing. And just as excited, is Kane himself…

•   If they are playing together tonight, it might be a glimpse into the short-term future for the Blackhawks, and maybe could jump-start Kane’s goal-scoring this season. With seven goals in 32 games this season and just 22 over his last 88 played, something is up with Kane’s goal-scoring ability…

•   Whatever his “nagging” injury is, it seems to be hindering him. He’s been dealing with it since the 2020 bubble postseason and that is the point where his goal-scoring pace, usually at least in the mid-to-upper 20’s, has fallen off.

•   With seven goals in 32 games this season, Kane is on his lowest goal-scoring pace of his career in a full 82-game schedule, on pace for 17 goals this season. His career-low was in 2007-08, his rookie season, when he scored 21 goals. Without going on a goal-scoring tear, Kane’s career-low would coincide with the Blackhawks having their lowest goals per game marker currently 2.33) since the 2003-04 season (2.29).

•   Tonight’s game is not only scheduled to be Lukas Reichel’s NHL debut, it is also Andrew Shaw’s Legacy night at the United Center. Fittingly, the Blackhawks take on the Canadiens, the other team Shaw played with in his NHL career. From Scott Powers and Mark Lazerus of The Athletic, a myriad of stories about Shaw in his career from some of the people who knew him best.

•   So much gold in here, I highly recommend reading through it all.

•   Shaw spent most of his career in Chicago, playing 362 of his 544 NHL games with the Blackhawks. He also played in 67 of his 72 Stanley Cup playoff games with the Blackhawks, leading to two Stanley Cup Championships in 2013 and 2015. He endeared himself to the Chicago fan base and yesterday, Shaw spoke about how emotional it will be to be back at the United Center to honor his career, which was cut short due to concussion issues.

•   Some players will never be Hall of Famers or have their numbers retired, but sometimes they create legacies that will still live on for long after their careers are over. Andrew Shaw is a perfect example of that.

•   A Happy Blackhawks Birthday to former Chicago goaltender Nikolai Khabibulin!

•   The saga that is Evander Kane took another turn yesterday with Edmonton Oilers Captain Connor McDavid speaking on the rumors that the Oilers were interested in adding Kane after he was cut from the San Jose Sharks organization. In case you’ve missed it, Kane has had a plethora of off-ice issues in recent years, from domestic abuse allegations, gambling problems (including allegations he bet against his own team), and now numerous COVID protocol violations, leading to the San Jose Sharks terminating his contract and making him a free agent. The Oilers have been a team connected to potentially adding Kane, and McDavid spoke about that potential scenario.

•   When we say hockey culture has a problem, this is everything you need to see. Winning supersedes everything. Kane has been afforded more than one “second chance” in his career. Usually when players get a “second chance” there needs to be a lesson learned. There hasn’t been a lesson learned in his case. And even with all of the major red flags that come with a player who has the history he does, just because he can score goals, all of that gets pushed to the side.

•   Hockey LOVES to tout a player’s “character,” whether it’s character issues or having great character. McDavid is the face of the NHL, the league’s best player, a generational talent, and the Captain of the Oilers. He’s propped-up as having that great character. But dismissing the problems that come with Evander Kane in the pursuit of winning hockey games, that’s all the character you need to know about.

•   I’m not a fan of Brad Marchand, but getting caught on a hot mic on live TV is never not funny…

•   Maybe cursing on NHL on TNT is good luck? Marchand went on to record a hat-trick in Boston’s 5-1 win over the Canadiens last night.

•   Interesting choice to toss that hat on the ice. Seems like one I would want to keep if I wore it to a hockey game!

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

•   We will see you tonight for Blackhawks-Canadiens 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.