If you don’t listen to the “32 Thoughts” Podcast whenever a new episode drops, I highly recommend you make it part of your listening list. It’s always insightful and Elliotte Friedman and Jeff Marek are two of the best in the business at asking great questions and trying their best to get answers.
They were at the NHL’s North American player tour in Vegas earlier this week and their Friday episode includes a number of interviews with players, including Connor Bedard.
They talked with Bedard for about eight minutes, and it’s a fun conversation. They weren’t able to get him to disclose his living situation in Chicago this year — nobody has yet — but they had some other really good questions for the Blackhawks’ new superstar that gave us another look inside his drive to win.
After a fun anecdote about Bedard’s gear at a tournament when he was 12, they asked him about sticking in Regina last season when a postseason run wasn’t in the cards. Loyalty has been something so many people have pointed to as one of the leadership qualities Bedard brings to the rink every day, and his answer was what we’ve come to expect from Bedard, but it’s also incredibly mature coming from a player who was 17 as the WHL season played out.
“[Loyalty] is big,” he said. “Whatever team I’m on I expect to win. Not saying because I’m on it but the mentality of the game. With Regina of course we had a good team but of course it fell short and everything but I really liked everything we had and I had so many good friends on that team. You’re there all year and you’re working towards the same goal and I think that’s something that’s so much fun. For me, I wanted to carry that out and continue with them and try to win.”
Marek asked Bedard about the roster he’s joining in Chicago, comparing it to the roster the Penguins built around Sidney Crosby when he arrived in the league almost 20 years ago. They brought up Taylor Hall and Corey Perry by name, but Bedard added Nick Foligno to the conversation as well. Bedard referred to Foligno as “one of the best people I’ve ever met,” adding he went to dinner at the Foligno house and met his family. He had great things to say about the veterans in the Blackhawks’ room.
“[They] seem unreal and so welcoming. I felt really comfortable going in the room without knowing people. Says a lot about their characters.”
I love hearing him say that because even as a prodigy who the entire hockey world has been watching for years, he’s still an 18-year-old jumping into professional hockey for the first time. I think all of us can remember having some feelings of anxiety in our first job, but every indication is that the Blackhawks have built a room that’s bringing Bedard on board in a great, comfortable place.
It has been years that the hockey world has been watching everything Bedard does, which is what makes the coming season one that will have the attention of fans well beyond Chicago. They asked Bedard when he realized he was becoming a “hockey celebrity” and how it feels to be someone young players look up to.
“It was a bit when I was 15 or 16 when I was in Regina,” he said. “That World Juniors in Halifax really changed everything. After that there was a lot more attention and kids were fired up seeing me or something and I’d go home and I’m like ‘why are these kids excited to meet me, I’m a normal guy’ but that’s pretty sweet that you can have an impact on these people. And you get to meet these kids and talk to them and maybe they have questions for me I find that pretty cool. Just knowing you can impact people’s lives just be being you and living your own life that makes you want to do things that much better.”
He might not like changing his gear very often (rarely changes gloves), but Connor Bedard continues to live up to the hype in every way. We’ll get our first chance to see him on the ice in a Blackhawks sweater this weekend, and then training camp starts next week.
You can listen to the full episode, which includes their conversation with Bedard as well as time with Sidney Crosby, Jack Hughes and Leon Draisaitl, here: