Reichel’s Pissed, Health Updates, Lineup Changes, Bedard Adjustments, Ottawa’s a Hot Mess, and Other Blackhawks Bullets

Let’s jump off with some additional thoughts about a few things we learned at/after the Blackhawks practiced on Wednesday. The headline was Lukas Reichel moving to the wing with Andreas Athanasiou moving up to the second-line center spot for the time being. Head coach Luke Richardson said the move was not necessarily permanent, but they liked what they saw from AA in the middle against Arizona and need more from Reichel. I thought Richardson’s comments were pretty pointed about Reichel: they believe in him, they have confidence in him, and they’re going to do what they can to put him in a position to succeed. But at the end of the day, it’s up to him to do it. And the NHL is a production-based business. It’s go time, buddy.

  • Taylor Hall was on the ice skating before the rest of the team. After practice, Richardson said Hall asked into the battle drills the rest of the team was doing in practice but they didn’t want him there quite yet — but they’re happy with his progress and he might be closer to returning than we might have expected when he went on IR. Richardson said they were going to see how he felt on Thursday — the Blackhawks are only having a gym day today, so no on-ice activity for the full group — and maybe Hall will join them for a team skate on Friday. That would be huge.
  • Richardson also told us Alex Vlasic is progressing in concussion protocol but hadn’t met with the third-party doctors yet. So his status is still TBD, but having almost a full week between games and then a relatively light schedule with one game in six days gives him time to recover fully.
  • With those two players still out of the picture, the Blackhawks put Jason Dickinson back at center on the third line with Tyler Johnson and Ryan Donato. I would assume that line gets a lot of time against Sasha Barkov on Saturday night — and probably Jack Hughes on Sunday.
  • On the blue line, Jarred Tinordi was skating with Connor Murphy and Wyatt Kaiser spent time with both Isaak Phillips and Nikita Zaitsev. My gut is we might see Tinordi-Murphy and Kaiser-Phillips on Saturday at least if Vlasic isn’t cleared. Phillips spent time on his off-side (the right side) in Rockford to start this season. I would love it if they kept Kaiser on his natural side. He’s had a tough start to the season.
  • I asked Richardson about how he thought Connor Bedard was adjusting to the NHL through the first month of his career.
  • “I don’t think he really cares about matchups,” Richardson said. “I think he just wants to go play. I think he thinks and has the confidence that he can beat anybody at a one-on-one – and he might be right.”

  • Yeah, that’s a scary proposition for the rest of the league. Obviously he’ll care about matchups more as he learns the game at the top level and understands more of how the league is going to approach him at home versus on the road, but this piece from Ben Pope is a nice look at how Bedard is already showing signs of beating the physical game in the NHL.
  • If you’re one of those who likes to complain about how/where to find the Blackhawks on your television, I have some good news about two game in December. NBC 5 Chicago will simulcast two Blackhawks games late in the calendar year. You’ll be able to see the Hawks host the Habs on Dec. 22 and then the game in Dallas on Dec. 29 on good ol’ Channel 5.
  • Let’s get back into this whole Ottawa Senators debacle because it just keeps getting more awkward by the day. If we rewind back one full week, the Senators found out one of their bright young players — who they hadn’t been able to sign as an RFA — was suspended for half of the 2023-24 season for wagering on hockey. So Shane Pinto is out of the picture until after Christmas at least (assuming they sign him now), but then the hammer drops yesterday that the NHL is docking the organization a first-round pick for screwing up the Evgenii Dadonov trade(s) a couple years ago. Which led to the team parting ways with general manager Pierre Dorion later yesterday.
  • Exhale. Now step back and think about the fact that the sale of the Senators was officially finalized on Sept. 21 — when, in theory, the investigations into both Pinto and the trade debacle were under way. So one can appreciate the frustration of new owner Michael Andlauer yesterday when he met with the media in the middle of a burning dumpster to answer questions about the hows and whys of the train being so far off the rails. He was frank, honest, and pissed.
  • “Why I inherited this is beyond me,” Andlauer said. “There’s no reason for (the Dadonov ruling) to last that long. I knew about it…and it was basically, from the seller’s perspective, it was really a non-issue. I don’t know if a first-rounder is a non-issue to you guys, but it is to me.”

    “The organization should have been made aware (about Pinto)…I don’t understand why (Dadonov) took so long. Maybe it was because the club was for sale and they didn’t want to disrupt, making sure the seller got the best price possible.”

  • I love what Elliotte Friedman had to say about it in his written “32 Thoughts” column from last night:
  • Ottawa owner Mike Andlauer wins the Jim Rutherford Award for blunt, unexpected honesty with a whopper of a performance in the aftermath of a stiff league penalty — the Senators forced to sacrifice a first-round draft pick for their role in the aborted 2022 trade of Evgenii Dadonov from Vegas to Anaheim.

  • This other nugget from Freidman’s 32 column was interesting to me as well:
  • Columbus’s Kent Johnson is now represented by CAA. Johnson was scratched twice in the first seven games, and, like many young, talented players, is still finding his way. It happens. There’s no reason for the Blue Jackets or their fans to panic right now, but what raised eyebrows is CAA’s represented a couple of players who have asked out of Ohio — Pierre-Luc Dubois and Seth Jones. Johnson needs to recognize there are things he must do to make it work.

  • And one more, since Blackhawks fans were all over the alleged Conor Garland Sweepstakes a couple weeks ago:
  • Most active team behind the scenes: Vancouver. The Canucks like what they’ve seen so far. Their best players look great. They want to add, and don’t want to toss in sweeteners to do it. A hockey move with the hope to create cap room. When others are ready, they’ll be waiting. 

  • And now, a pretty goal from Blackhawks prospect Nick Lardis last night:

  • In the wake of Adam Johnson’s death, the push for more protective gear is skyrocketing all over hockey. Which makes sense — it’s overdue. The WHL became the first league to mandate neck guards on Wednesday. And that begins on Friday.
  • Finally, let’s all hope the Bears can get a deal done to keep a really good pass rusher they paid a second-round pick to get before the trade deadline earlier this week. It sounds like they’re trying.
  • written by

    Tab Bamford has been writing about the Chicago Blackhawks for almost two decades. He joined Bleacher Nation as the lead Blackhawks writer in May 2022. Tab is a member of the Professional Hockey Writers Association and is the author of two books about the Blackhawks: "100 Things Blackhawks Fans Should Know & Do Before They Die" (Triumph Books) and "Chicago Blackhawks: An Illustrated Timeline" (Reedy Press, 2021). Find him on Twitter/X/Instagram/Threads at @The1Tab

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