A Roenick Sighting, Role Players' Compete Level, An Intriguing Goaltending Option, and Other Blackhawks Bullets

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A Roenick Sighting, Role Players’ Compete Level, An Intriguing Goaltending Option, and Other Blackhawks Bullets

Chicago Blackhawks

Happy Monday, Blackhawks fans. Tomorrow night the boys will finish off their 7-game, 17-day, calendar year-starting homestand when Patrick Kane‘s hometown Buffalo Sabres and Tage Thompson stop by for an evening tilt. It sounded like head coach Luke Richardson was going to… shall I say, “refocus the effort level,” at practice today so we’ll see how they respond after their worst effort of the season on Saturday night.

  • Speaking of Saturday night, just a quick off-ice note. I ran into Jeremy Roenick at the United Center after the ugly loss. JR was kind enough to handle the foreword to my first book, 100 Things Blackhawks Fans Should Know and Do Before They Die, when it was first published 11+ years ago and we ran into each other at an event just before it hit shelves back in 2011. He was great to work with on the project.
  • Roenick was there with four young hockey players who wanted to meet their idol, Kane, and Roenick was facilitating the meeting. I think sometimes we forget when there are emotions fans have after a game like Saturday night that players have similar emotions, but sometimes have to put those feelings aside and put on a smile to represent the team. That cannot be easy.
  • This story from Mark Lazerus at The Athletic touches on an interesting player on the Blackhawks’ roster: Tyler Johnson. Richardson has mentioned multiple times this year that his compete level is near the top of the charts; he wants to win. Badly. But Tampa needed to dump his salary cap number ($5 million) so much they traded him and a second-round pick in 2023 to the Hawks for Brent Seabrook‘s LTIR relief. Injuries have impacted his ability to be on the ice since he joined the Blackhawks, but when he’s been available he’s worked his tail off and been productive.
  • His “do my job as best I can” attitude permeates the room right now. One of the smartest things GM Kyle Davidson did in putting together this roster was fill it with guys who were looking to prove people wrong and create opportunities for themselves. Guys like Tyler, Sam Lafferty and Jason Dickinson have been effort-every-shift guys. And that makes a bad team easier to cheer for. This comment from Tyler really captures what I respect about his approach every practice and every game:

“I don’t think you can really ever look at the long term,” the Blackhawks winger said. “I try to be in the present. Obviously, you’re working for your future and whatever that may be, and you have goals and everything, but I’m with Chicago right now, and I want to do as much as I can here.”

  • I bring up Dickinson in this conversation because Ben Pope wrote a nice story on him in the middle of last week for the Chicago Sun-Times. He’s been searching for his offense for a bit here, but he keeps working on the small details of his game to get better. He’s a third-line guy so his role isn’t necessarily to lead the team in scoring, but it’s nice to get the payoff at some point.
  • As I said above, what makes this Blackhawks’ team a group you can cheer for is because they keep working. As much as fans chuckled after years of hearing “One Goal” as a marketing slogan and then raised eyebrows when this season’s slogan — “Ready to Work” — was revealed, it actually captures this team pretty well. This roster is full of guys who take ownership of the performance of both themselves and the team at large.

“I feel like I should be doing more, so that sucks,” Dickinson told Pope. “We lose some close games, and it feels like, ‘Maybe I could’ve contributed something. It could’ve been different if this happened.’ It’s easy to look back on things and say, ‘What should’ve, could’ve, would’ve.’

“I felt really good about my game. I just wasn’t getting on the scoresheet. I felt like I was playing really good hockey, and it just wasn’t happening. That is more encouraging than it is discouraging that I’m not getting the points.”

  • Let’s take a moment to enjoy this well-executed rush and goal from Blackhawks prospect Kevin Korchinski this weekend. Brad Lambert, who set up Korchinski for the easy snipe, was the Jets’ first-round pick (No. 30 overall) in the 2022 draft. Seattle’s going all-in this season and if/when they get Colton Dach in the lineup they’re going to be a tough out.
  • The Red Wings put goaltender Alex Nedeljkovic on waivers on Sunday and I’ve gotta say, I’m at least minimally intrigued. He was terrific in Carolina but hasn’t lived up to the $3 million contract he got from Detroit. He’s a UFA at the end of the season. Should the Blackhawks claim him? At this time, probably not. Do the Red Wings want out of that deal asap? Absolutely. Is he a guy that at least intrigues me if someone calls on Alex Stalock as a backup option (again, contract ends this season) so Arvid Söderblom can stay in Rockford? Sure — especially if Detroit will throw in a lil’ something for the effort (draft pick perhaps?). So keep him in the back of your mind.
  • If you didn’t get a chance to read it this weekend, we’re nine days away from Seabrook serving as a head coach in the 2023 Kubota CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game in Vancouver. He’s been working in a player development role for the Vancouver Giants this season and might get the chance to see Connor Bedard work first-hand in this top-tier prospect showcase. After spending more than a decade as a teammate and good friend of Kane and Jonathan Toews, I asked the two future Hall of Famers what they think about Seabs behind the bench — and what advice they might have for the young players who will call him coach in a couple weeks.
  • Finally, it feels like we have a nice “man of the people” vibe working in our bullets today so let’s stay there with this fun story about the Jaguars’ quarterback celebrating the third-biggest comeback win in NFL playoff history at a Waffle House. Florida man indeed!

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