Depth Strength, One Year Since the Beach Investigation, a Couple Minor Trades, Ludwinski's Strong Return, and Other Blackhawks Bullets

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Depth Strength, One Year Since the Beach Investigation, a Couple Minor Trades, Ludwinski’s Strong Return, and Other Blackhawks Bullets

Chicago Blackhawks

We woke up around Chicago today to temps in the 30s and frost on the ground. The Edmonton Oilers visit the United Center tonight. It’s beginning to feel a lot like hockey season, people. With the Hawks riding a four-game winning streak into the first time seeing McJesus and Draisaitl, I’m intrigued to see what the attendance looks like tonight — and how the surprisingly fast Blackhawks track with the standard for speed in the NHL from Edmonton.

  • What has been the key to the Blackhawks’ success early this season? The players and coaches will give you a wide range of reasons, from consistency in communication to simplified systems to veteran leadership. But one piece has been at the core of each of the Blackhawks’ wins: depth. And the role players on this team have stepped up big time.
  • Mark Lazerus and Scott Powers at The Athletic published a length piece on Wednesday marking the anniversary of the Blackhawks’ releasing the Jenner and Block report from the investigation into the Kyle Beach assault. The two sat down with Danny Wirtz and Jamie Faulkner to look at what the Blackhawks have done as an organization in the past year to address the glaring issues that were made public in the report.
  • Their findings are encouraging. They break down steps the organization has taken over the past couple years to move away from John McDonough’s “culture of fear and secrecy” into a more transparent present and future. I have noticed those changes being around the organization and it appears Wirtz and Faulkner are going to great lengths to reform their internal processes to make the workplace — from junior staffers to the top of the NHL roster — more hospitable.
  • Powers and Lazerus also talked to Respect Group co-founder Sheldon Kennedy, whose group is working with every NHL team to combat discrimination, harassment and bullying in organizations. He told them the Blackhawks (and Winnipeg Jets) have been leading organizations in the entire NHL at adopting their programs and being progressive in their training. This, too, is encouraging.
  • One of the biggest things they talk about in the article (please read it) is how the Blackhawks organization is working to be a better, more open place to talk about and deal with mental health. Head coach Luke Richardson is a huge supporter of mental health initiatives and the team having two individuals on staff to work with players and others in the organization has been a tremendous asset for players.
  • This portion of their closing section was especially important for me:

If anything, the Blackhawks are a perfect test case for the kind of systemic and fundamental change in the hockey culture that Kennedy is fighting for, that Danny Wirtz and Jaime Faulkner are striving for, that fans throughout the hockey world are hoping for.

Because if the Blackhawks can do it, then any team can.

  • I was glad to read the progress outlined in this story. And I can speak from personal experience around the organization that everything feels more intentionally purposeful now. There is an awareness of their previous issues and action being taken to reform the organization. Not being able to own, acknowledge and grow from a transgression this sever would only make it worse. Hockey culture at large has lots of problems its dealing with right now. The Blackhawks are moving in the right direction.
  • The other trade on Wednesday sent forward Evan Barratt to Philly. Ben Pope spoke with him during training camp about his hopes of making the NHL at some point, and I’m with Ben in hoping he gets a shot at the league with the Flyers.
  • A second-round pick the Blackhawks’ new front office hopes works out a lot better than Boqvist or Beaudin is Paul Ludwinski. The Hawks selected him with the 39th overall pick in the 2022 NHL Draft and he had a nice summer. Unfortunately, his action at the prospect showcase in September was limited because of a concussion. Thursday morning, Scott Wheeler shared a piece on Ludwinski coming back from that concussion and his ongoing development.
  • I absolutely love this quote from Kingston head coach Luca Caputi about his star forward:

“He doesn’t really know how to do anything without full speed or a 100 percent type of effort. He’s invested in everything he does and I think that’s infectious on the younger group,” Caputi told Wheeler. “And he’s really just a second-year player because he wasn’t able to play in his first year in the pandemic, so he has learned a lot really quickly. He has done everything that we thought he would and then some since coming back. It goes without saying that he’s one of the engines that drives the bus around here and we’re going to need him if we’re going to continue to win hockey games.”

  • The Blackhawks’ opponent on Thursday night picked up a 3-1 win in St. Louis last night, and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins scored his 200th career goal. Stuart Skinner was in net for the Oilers last night, so maybe we’ll see Jack Campbell tonight in Chicago?
  • Finally, the Bears made a mid-season trade involving a respected veteran who put up franchise record-setting numbers last season. So what’s next after Robert Quinn was dealt to the Eagles? We’ve got answers (and a few more questions).

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Author: Tab Bamford

Tab is the Lead Blackhawks voice for BN. He is the author of two books about the Blackhawks, most recently "Chicago Blackhawks: An Illustrated Timeline" (Reedy Press, 2021). Find him on Twitter at @The1Tab