Thursday was the first day of “school” for the Chicago Blackhawks. Luke Richardson officially took the ice with his team as a head coach for the first time. The Blackhawks were split into three groups on the ice, and most of the media missed the second group’s on-ice time (a group that includes Lukas Reichel) because we were speaking with the two champions who are left in the building.
- Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews met with the media — individually — for the first time since the summer trades of Alex DeBrincat and Kirby Dach. They were primarily asked about their personal futures in Chicago, but also commented about the departures of a couple guys they had played with over the last few years.
- One comment from Toews grabbed some eyeballs on Twitter yesterday:
- A couple weeks before he was traded, I wrote a piece considering how selecting Dach had played out in the three years since he was picked third overall. Could he have done more to help himself? Absolutely. And he’ll need to do that now in Montreal to take advantage of his fresh start. But the organization didn’t help his progress as a professional hockey player whatsoever. And hearing the captain say as much directly on the first day of camp was noteworthy.
- Right off the jump, a couple injury notes from Thursday. Colton Dach and Paul Ludwinski were still in concussion protocol after leaving the prospect showcase games early. Ian Mitchell is going to miss the next six weeks because of a left wrist injury. That makes his future an even tougher proposition to forecast.
- Richardson spoke about the frustration of Mitchell missing time in what was going to be a critical year for him.
“I know It’s frustrating for him,” Richardson said. “It’s disappointing, and he’s not even going to be able to get in training camp and then get injured. It’s going to be tough for him as a defenseman to come six-seven weeks or whatever it is when he’s back. Everyone’s at a certain level, and he’s starting at the bottom after missing training camp, and that’s very frustrating for any athlete. We’re just there to give him any support he needs, and I know our medical staff and strength coaches are great, and they will have him as good as they can be without being on the ice.”
- Connor Murphy was away from the team to attend the funeral of one of his billets in Canada. Richardson said he’s traveling back to Chicago after the services.
- Jake McCabe skated before the teams took the ice and remained on the ice during the practice. Richardson said he couldn’t do anything that would involve contact, but the new coaching staff felt it was valuable for him to see the new concepts from ice level rather than upstairs. The timetable for McCabe’s return is still in the late-November/early-December range.
- Since the trend these days in the Blackhawks organization is looking a bit different than before, their AHL affiliate rebranded. The Rockford IceHogs showed off their new look on Thursday.
- Yeah, we just started training camp. But let’s think about the future for a moment. TSN’s Bob McKenzie dropped his top 16 prospects in a special on the network on Thursday. Yes, Connor Bedard was No. 1, followed by Matvei Michkov and Adam Fantilli. And yes, we’re going to keep an eye on these players.
- The Blackhawks have spoken about building a more robust analytics department moving forward. A few of the names added to that group were shared on Thursday.
- According to this Russian tweet, Blackhawks prospect Ilya Safonov has signed a contract in the KHL through the 2024-25 season. Safonov, 21, was a sixth-round pick by Chicago in the 2021 NHL Draft.
- Finally, the Cubs’ rebuilding process has progressed well enough that they’re now positioned to have a strong group of core players growing up internally and they can go spend a boatload of money. As a reminder to Blackhawks fans: in the summer of 2024, the Hawks will have $17.9 million on the books. That means they’ll have to spend about $65 million to get to the salary floor that summer. The goal is for the Blackhawks to be in two years where the Cubs are now (with a top-three pick next summer accelerating the star potential in the system.