After taking three points in two games in southern California, the Blackhawks leave their dads at the airport (not really) and return to the United Center ice for a home tilt against a really good Carolina Hurricanes squad. We’ll have a lot of Marian Hossa stuff this week as well with his jersey being retired this coming weekend.
- The first thing I want to share this morning is my deepest hopes that everyone on the Saint Ignatius College Prep hockey team recovers fully. They were involved in an awful accident in Indiana this weekend that sent 16 players, coaches and staff members to the hospital. I’m the parent of a high school athlete and this is one of my greatest fears. I can’t imagine the emotions in these families.
- On Monday morning, The Athletic published an interview Mark Lazerus did with Blackhawks general manager Kyle Davidson. A lot of it touches on the potential… disappointment(?) that the team isn’t as bad as they were supposed to be. With the Blackhawks playing relatively well, the general manager continued his optimism about how his group and the coaching staff are overhauling the culture of the Blackhawks.
It’s great for the culture of the team. They’ve got a little chip on their shoulder, they’ve got something to prove. And you know what? It’s fun to come to the rink in a year that no one from the outside thought it would be. So it’s fun. Because they work really hard, they’re playing for a coach that they clearly love playing for. And so that’s good for the Chicago Blackhawks. That’s good for everyone associated with the team, that wants us to get where we want to be.
- If you’ve noticed, I’m spending a lot of time in this space talking about the future of the organization. I’ve done that since I started covering the Blackhawks 15 years ago — even when they were winning championships. But now it feels more immediately on-our-minds. Here’s part of what Davidson had to say about how his first draft class is helping accelerate the timeline for the rebuild.
I think the early returns — very early returns — are pretty good on a lot of the guys. (Kevin) Korchinski’s doing his thing and (Frank) Nazar’s gotten his surgery and will be back. Even guys like Ryan Greene, he got another goal (Saturday night), he had five points (Friday) night. (Paul) Ludwinski does his thing, Sam Savoie does his thing. You can see when building a team, there are some guys that you can see in roles moving forward.
- Finally, Laz asked GMKD a couple great questions that I’ve openly speculated about on Twitter since the summer. Could Kane and Toews be part of the rebuild beyond this year? Here are a couple answers he gave about those two, first about Toews specifically and then about whether or not he sees a scenario where one/both of them is traded and then re-signs here as UFAs this coming summer.
We’ve always had a vision for Jonathan of being part of the culture-building and being that leader that has been through it all, seen it all, and can help us usher in that next era. So I don’t think it changes anything there. Maybe from other teams, it changes their plans on whether they’re going to call or not.
It’s such a unique situation with their history and with our situation and where we’re at on our path. It’s so cliché to say we’re just taking it day by day, but that’s literally what we’re doing. We’re just living in the present and just seeing how this season plays out. Right now, I think things are really good and so we’ll check in with them and monitor how they’re feeling but we’re not at that point where we’re thinking of scenarios or anything like that.
- Give this one a read because there’s a lot in there.
- This coming Sunday afternoon, the Blackhawks will honor Marian Hossa by taking No. 81 out of circulation permanently. A banner will take its place in the rafters next to Maggie and Pierre, the Golden Jet, Savoir-Faire, Tony O, Mr. Goalie and Stosh. Last night the Hawks shared the details of when the ceremony will begin — and it isn’t right before the game against Sidney Crosby and the Penguins begins at 6.
- Hossa was at Soldier Field to watch Justin Fields put on a show… and the Bears lose. Unlike this year’s Bears team post-trade deadline, Hossa will be remembered for playing defense. SMH.
- Just throwing this reminder out there that our captain is not to be messed with. Jonathan Toews wanted the smoke — all of it — on Saturday night at the Honda Center. But the lesser Strome preferred to run his mouth and then hide in the penalty box. I can’t get enough of 19 wanted a piece. (However, again, I’m thankful he didn’t turn the dance music on because I’m more happy watching a healthy Toews do work this season.)
- What’s kinda of crazy to me is that Patrick Kane isn’t answering as many questioned these days about where/when he’s going to be traded. He’s being asked about where his scoring his hiding. Kane leads the Blackhawks with 12 points in 14 games entering Monday, but 10 of those 12 points are apples. Ben Pope shared Kane’s thoughts on his offense thus far — a good reminder that he’s still adjusting to new linemates and they’re still adjusting to his incredible, all-time ability.
- One point from 88 in this really good story from Pope stood out to me. As I noted in my takeaways in more than a couple of the Blackhawks’ recent games, they’ve been getting out-played on the stat sheet almost every night. And they’ve started spending way too much time in their defensive end. So Kane talking about how he can personally help remedy that shows a thoughtfulness we should expect from the future Hall of Famer.
“It’s not really about points or anything like that,” Kane told Pope. “It’s about how to get the puck, get puck touches, how to get it in space so I can do my thing. … It’s just more about puck possession: Getting touches, hanging on to it. It seems like a lot of the time we’re out there, we’re chasing it, playing in the ‘D’-zone.”
- Ian Mitchell returned to the ice with Rockford this weekend in Texas. On Sunday night, he picked up his first assist of the 2022-23 season on this Isaak Phillips’ goal. I really hope we get a chance to see Mitchell in Chicago this season.
- A number of years back I had the honor of interviewing Borje Salming for a cover story for The Fourth Period Magazine. He is the gold standard by which players from Sweden are measured, even today. His resume was easily worthy of a place in the Hockey Hall of Fame and he remains one of the most beloved players in Maple Leafs history. He was a terrific interview, thoughtful and well spoken and clearly still in love with the game that made him famous.
- Sadly, Salming is now dealing with aggressive ALS. He was honored a couple times in Toronto this weekend. This was well overdue and emotional to watch, not because I spoke with him years ago but because the fans share love for him that he shares back. Even though he has lost the ability to speak, you could tell he was in the moments. Beautifully done, Toronto.
- Finally, let’s talk rumors for a minute. No, not Kane or Toews trade rumors, but the free agent shortstops in MLB that might be on the Cubs’ radar right now.