As I walked into the Firth Third Arena on Wednesday for the training camp opening press conference of GM Kyle Davidson and head coach Luke Richardson, there were huge black walls built up in the lobby. Inside the “box” of sorts were Blackhawks players and prospects getting their green screen photos taken for various media this year, including some “first day of” school pics, too. By the end of the presser when I was leaving, Lukas Reichel was playing FIFA on a huge television in the lobby.
Welcome to 2022 training camp, Blackhawks fans! Let’s get to the goods.
- We’re crying too, Blackhawks social media people.
- Davidson and Richardson covered a lot of ground in their press conference, from the current status of Kane/Toews to making more moves before the regular season begins to locker room culture. It’s clear the head coach and front office are on the same page (is that a thing? asks fans who watched the Bowman/Quenneville dynamic for a decade).
- One item of note: Richardson said he likes the idea of opening the season with Max Domi and Patrick Kane on a line together. Those who come here frequently and pay attention might have noticed we mentioned that a full week ago.
- Here’s a great comment from Richardson about being around the team to build culture. As a player, he was in the room more than 1,400 times in the regular season — he knows what being an NHL player is like, and what it takes to hang around for two decades. But I definitely get the vibe that some guys maybe just didn’t want to be completely open around the last permanent head coach (read: Colliton, Jeremy) and Richardson gets the need to be with his team. His perspective is going to pay dividends.
- He probably won’t join the NHL team on the ice until December, but veteran defenseman Jake McCabe was on the ice before anyone else getting in some work on Thursday. It’s good to see him skating and we hope he recovers well and can return at full strength.
- As we continue to keep an eye on prospects who are part of the future while watching the NHL players hit the ice today, here’s another great read on University of Michigan interim coach Brandon Naurato. How he cultivates talent is going to be important for a number of NHL organizations — including the Blackhawks. Frank Nazar is one of Michigan’s key freshman.
- Speaking of the Big Ten (and Michigan), the conference announced it’s pre-season all-conference teams on Wednesday. Blackhawks prospect and Notre Dame forward Landon Slaggert is one of the first-team forwards. And, for whatever it’s worth, Adam Fantilli (second-team) is one of two freshman to earn recognition before ever taking the ice (Logan Cooley is the other).
- Chris Peters previewed the USHL Fall Classic, and the first name on his watch list is Blackhawks’ first rounder Sam Rinzel. Here’s what he had to say about Rinzel, who will skate one year in the USHL before heading to the U. of Minnesota:
The highest-drafted player returning to the USHL this season, Rinzel spent a portion of last season with Waterloo while also playing for his high school team in Chaska, Minn. Rinzel will be part of Waterloo full-time this year and there’s a lot of excitement about what he can bring back to the league. Selected 25th overall by Chicago in July, Rinzel has a lot of raw tools including high-end skating ability and some solid offensive skill to go along with a 6-foot-4 frame. Rinzel has some rounding out to do and strength to build, which is why a return trip through the USHL this season will do him a lot of good before moving on to the University of Minnesota next season.
- Wanna hear a story about a team with a player in his early 20s who scored 41 goals last year and isn’t reporting to training camp because he wants the bag? Let’s go to Dallas, shall we?
- No, the Blackhawks probably aren’t going to trade for Robertson.
- And no, they shouldn’t help the Stars make enough cap space appear to keep a 23-year-old 40-goal scorer. Let ’em sweat, GMKD.
- Finally, I kinda sorta felt like this one was an appropriate quote to leave in our first bullets of training camp. Have a beautiful Thursday morning, folks!