Yesterday was a beautiful day. The sun was out, it felt like fall and there were hockey players on the ice at the Fifth Third Arena. I got a little sneak peak at some Kane-Domi action before the Blackhawks’ prospects took the ice for a spirited practice. It felt like hockey season, and that’s what we’re here for.
- Last night I was invited to join a few folks to talk about the Blackhawks on HockeyDB’s Twitter Space. We discussed the Hawks retiring Marian Hossa’s jersey, the likelihood Patrick Kane is actually traded (and odds he might stay) and then the conversation went off the rails talking about the philosophy of the rebuild.
- It was a terrific conversation overall with lots of differing perspectives. Feel free to listen to it while you can.
- I got to the Fifth Third Arena a little early on Wednesday because the big boys — the NHL Blackhawks — were on the ice before the prospects showed up. It was good to see some familiar faces on the ice and a few new guys skating in red and black.
- Then the prospects hit the ice at noon. It was loud, and — unlike the NHL players — they had names and numbers on their jerseys.
- One thing that struck me immediately watching the prospects skate was… their skating. The reason Lukas Reichel is the top forward prospect in the organization was abundantly clear: he’s fast, and his stride looks effortless. Some of the other guys looked like they were trying hard at top speed. But Reichel — and Kevin Korchinski for that matter — hit their top gear with ease.
- That makes sense when you pay attention to what the new front office has said over and over again about the attributes they value in players. Speed has been the word on repeat since the end of the regular season. And the guys they drafted this year clearly have plenty of it.
- At the end of practice while the rest of the prospects were talking to the media people like me in the dressing room, three guys they drafted this year — Korchinski, Paul Ludwinski and Gavin Hayes — stayed on the ice and got in some extra work. They looked like they were having a great time and got along well. It’s good to see the next generation building relationships on the ice like that.
- The guys at The Athletic chatted with a few prospects after practice. One intriguing nugget (pun intended) from their prospect notebook is the note that Reichel has made some pretty dramatic changes to his diet to become a better player. And one of the ways he’s done that is spending time with Connor Murphy, who has emerged as a real leader in the room for the Blackhawks.
“[Murphy’s] a healthy guy, he’s a real professional and I can steal from him,” Reichel told The Athletic on Wednesday. “I got to eat healthy. It’s not my thing, but I just got to do it for hockey. I like to eat salmon, steak or something like that. I feel good after and it’s good for me.”
- It looks like the Blackhawks’ ECHL affiliate is getting a new home! According to the report below, the Indy Fuel will have a brand spankin’ new, 8,500 seat capacity rink that’s reportedly going to open for the 2024-25 season.
- If you aren’t familiar, the ECHL is like baseball’s Double-A (or single-A) for hockey. This is below the AHL, but some guys can make their way to the NHL from these ranks. Justin Holl was in Indy with the Blackhawks’ organization back in 2014-15 and is now on the blue line in Toronto.
- It’s also worth laughing that this rink will hold more people than the future home of the Arizona Coyotes, which will have a 5,000 seat capacity and will open the same year (reportedly).
- The San Jose Sharks rolled out new uniforms for the coming season. What do you think? The Blackhawks will get to see their home uniforms for two of their more significant games of the regular season, when they honor Doug Wilson and Patrick Marleau.
- Finally, this is the kind of effort we would love to see from the Blackhawks this year. That being said… #Bad4Bedard is still the #OneGoal this season. But let’s wreck a few seasons along the way (like they did to Vegas last year).