Pride Night Thoughts, Proud Prospects, NCAA Action, No Chicago In NHLPA Poll, and Other Blackhawks Bullets
I want to open with a serious, but necessary and nuanced thought given some of the ill-informed comments I saw following news that Chicago will not wear Pride jerseys on Sunday night. First, some context.
This Sunday against the Vancouver Canucks, the Blackhawks will celebrate their Pride Night at the United Center. However, the team has opted NOT to wear special jerseys showing their support during warmups. In short, the Hawks had safety concerns for their three Russian-born players, who still have family in Russia, where a law was passed banning “gay propaganda.” You can read way more about the decision here. We already covered it.
I bring it back up again today, like I said, because of those ill-informed reactions. The decision, itself, is obviously disappointing, but the entire conversation is nuanced and blame is potentially being misdirected.
The Blackhawks had a team meeting about their Pride night events before the trade deadline, agreeing it was a go. Since then, something has changed — clearly. That might be the addition of two players via trade. It also might have something to do with the leadership void in the room. In other words, we don’t know if any other (non-Russian born players in the room) stood against lending their support.
So while it’s easy for some of us to say “Just sit the three Russian players” from our comfortable couches. Sadly, it isn’t that simple.
The Organization (capital “O”) is making this decision, saying it did not come from the players, and that is partially so the three individuals in question aren’t blamed for the decision or made to stand out from the rest of the roster and be asked to release statements.
So, please, don’t point fingers at only the three players who were loosely affiliated with this decision like it’s somehow *their* fault. All we know for certain is that the Blackhawks made this decision as an Organization.
(Michael: And I’ll add, even if it WAS on behalf of ONLY these three Russian players, which it may not be, don’t be so quick dismiss the potential and legitimate concern they’d have for their family and friends still in Russia…Not everyone in the world enjoys the same freedom of expression we do in America. In other words, this doesn’t feel exclusively like an empty excuse to avoid doing the right thing).
- The Seattle Thunderbirds, where Blackhawks prospects Kevin Korchinski, Nolan Allan and Colton Dach are playing in the WHL this season, did not have a Pride night on their schedule. But the only openly gay player in the WHL, Predators defense prospect Luke Prokop, is on their roster, too. So last night the fans organized their own Pride night. And the players followed suit.
- Dach returned from injury to score a pretty goal (below) and Allan also scored for Seattle last night.
- It’s a big game day for the Blackhawks and some of their prospects. The NHL club is in our nation’s capital for an important game for both teams (Washington needs a win to keep their playoff dreams alive) while the NCAA tournament kicks off after lunch. So let’s start this morning’s bullets with what I’m watching on the ice all over the country today:
- 1:00 PM CT — Boston University vs Western Michigan (ESPN2)
- 4:00 PM CT — St. Cloud State vs Minnesota State (ESPNU)
- 4:30 PM CT — Denver vs Cornell (ESPN News)
- 6:00 PM CT — Blackhawks at Capitals (NBCSN)
- The Blackhawks have four prospects playing in the NCAA tournament this afternoon, starting with Drew Commesso and Ryan Greene at Boston University. Then Dominic Basse and St. Cloud State take on Minnesota State while Aidan Thompson and Denver face Cornell. The nightcap of NHL action is just the cherry on top. If you’re interested, the fourth NCAA game of the day is top-ranked Minnesota vs Canisius at 8 PM CT on ESPN2. Make sure you vote in our Twitter poll!
- ESPN dropped a nice overview of players to watch in the NCAA tournament games, with a few draft-eligible names (hello, Adam Fantilli) and some college free agents that may interest the Blackhawks as well. When they discuss drafted players on the rosters, however, they failed to mention two Blackhawks prospects: Denver’s Aidan Thompson and Boston University’s Ryan Greene. While this might be perceived as my Chicago goggles pointing out omissions, both players have been important second-line centers on their respective rosters; Thompson was a point-per-game player for the Pioneers this year. Seem like big misses to me.
- Teams that won’t participate in any championship tournaments through next season? Russia and Belarus. The IIHF announced on Wednesday that those countries will remain banned through next year. So no World Juniors or World Championships for either country.
- The Blackhawks added two somewhat-healthy bodies to their off-day skate on Wednesday. Petr Mrazek and Andreas Englund joined the team in Washington. We’ll see if anyone is assigned to Rockford before the game on Thursday (Anton Khudobin being the most obvious choice).
- The NHLPA released their 2022-23 player poll on Wednesday. The only mention anyone or anything related to the Blackhawks gets this year is Kendall Coyne Schofield receiving votes when the players were asked “Which female hockey player (current or past) would you most want to play alongside?“
- Patrick Kane was the top player in stick-handling (46.1 percent), easily beating Connor McDavid (28.7 percent). Kane was the runner-up in best passer to McDavid’s teammate, Leon Draisaitl. I was surprised to see McDavid finish fourth in the poll in “Most Complete Player” with Sidney Crosby, Patrice Bergeron and Sasha Barkov coming in with more votes.
- I was also somewhat surprised to see Chicago not even crack the top five in the “best city to spend an off-day” category. You can see the complete results of the poll below.
- Finally, big announcement time from us here at Bleacher Nation. We’re hosting a powerhouse event at HVAC Pub on April 6 with an incredible guest! Hit that link to reserve your spot!