The NHL regular season officially started with two games in Prague over the weekend, but it really kicks off with games on this continent tonight. And so, with the beginning of a new season, it’s time for players and fans to look forward.
But some take time to look back.
And, on Tuesday morning, The Players’ Tribune published a thank you letter from Alex DeBrincat to the Blackhawks, their fans, and the city of Chicago.
Go ahead and get your Kleenex ready, kids.
I’m not going to spoil the entire piece, but this anecdote speaks to not only how special the Blackhawks are to DeBrincat, but how he values his relationship with Patrick Kane.
But I had a bit of a hard time at that camp. I wasn’t nervous, I just wasn’t me. I remember we were practicing in South Bend, Indiana, on the Notre Dame campus — Kaner actually told me this story a few years ago from his perspective — and basically my game wasn’t in a good spot. I’d been a scorer my whole life, but now that I was trying to make the NHL, I felt like I needed a different dimension in my game. So I wasn’t doing the things that had gotten me to that point. And it got in my head. I basically couldn’t shoot the puck. Couldn’t one-time it. Couldn’t do anything. Some of the guys were noticing and Kaner told me that the coaches had pulled him aside and said, “Man … why don’t you go teach this kid to shoot the puck?”
So after practice, Kaner and I stayed on the ice and just sent one-timers back-and-forth for a bit and he helped me feel comfortable pretty quick. And we basically did that nearly every practice for the next five years. I think he wanted me to just be me.
We’ve heard Kane talk about how much he valued playing with DeBrincat, and how much it hurt him to see his “little brother” get traded this summer. Indeed, even more than Artemi Panarin — who came to Chicago a more finished product from Russia — Kane really took DeBrincat under his wing and played the role of mentor and teammate to DeBrincat.
Go ahead and read the letter from DeBrincat. It might be the last thing you want to read before a year full of questions (and losses) in Chicago, but it’s a refreshing reminder that playing for the Blackhawks is an honor for players who are cheered by the faithful at the United Center.