It still feels surreal. As NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly held the card for the No. 1 overall pick on Monday night, time stood still. When he finally revealed the Chicago Blackhawks as the winners of the NHL Draft Lottery, the CHGO Blackhawks crew was hit with a combination of relief and ecstasy. Our friend Chris Peters called Connor Bedard “The Shortcut to a Rebuild” and now the Blackhawks will have the right to select him on June 28 in Nashville.
Greg, Mario, and I thought we’d use this space to summarize our thoughts on the night, and what Bedard will mean to the team, to the fanbase, and to us.
Waking up this morning, I needed to check my phone to make sure last night actually happened. Even though my dreams were full of goal horns, I was relieved to find out that the Blackhawks winning the Draft Lottery was not just a figment of my imagination.
Being able to see that moment for this franchise sitting between Jay and Mario and live in front of a record audience for CHGO Blackhawks made it something I won’t forget. Of course, the internet has been full of outrage and conspiracy theories, but none of that matters because Bedard will officially be a Blackhawk in 50 days.
Winning the Draft Lottery doesn’t mean the rebuild is over. There is still plenty of pain ahead, but having Bedard on the roster makes things a little easier. Factor in that the Blackhawks have seven more picks in the first three rounds of this historically deep draft, and this rebuild is off to a tremendous start.
Winning the Draft Lottery was the huge payoff we all hoped for. Blackhawks fans had to endure a lot over the past 12 months. Players like Brandon Hagel, Alex DeBrincat, and Kirby Dach were all moved for draft picks. Then, during a season full of losses, Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews played their last games for the franchise. That is a lot to take, but all the hand-wringing and anxiety was worth it…..No. 98 is on his way. And he has Luke Richardson as his first NHL head coach. I’m glad we hopped on the ride.
After losing my voice shouting in anxious anticipation and then again in celebration during the NHL Draft Lottery, I’ve come down a bit for the high of the Blackhawks winning the top overall pick and the opportunity to select Connor Bedard.
Ok, one last scream, AHHHHHHH!
Ok, so Connor Bedard, the generational talent and undisputed best player in the 2023 draft class for the past two years, will be a Chicago Blackhawk. After going through the tank season that was 2022-23, saying goodbye to Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane, and having endured what felt like endless piles of shit in the news over the past two+ years, Blackhawks fans have reached the light at the end of the tunnel.
Before I go on, I still feel it is necessary to acknowledge the atrocious events that occurred during 2010 and the cover-up that former Blackhawks management proceeded with. The outrage, anger, and disgust that 31 other NHL fan bases feel with Chicago landing No. 1 is right. The cries of “RIGGED!” are as expected as the rising and setting of the sun. If I wasn’t a Blackhawks fan, I’d probably feel the same way. But the ping pong balls came up in Chicago’s favor and no one who had anything to do with the incidents revolving around Brad Aldrich’s sexual assault of Kyle Beach and the cover-up get to be a part of it.
Moving forward, the Blackhawks get the cheat code, the shortcut, the cornerstone to their rebuild. The term generational talent is thrown around a lot in hockey. Not every top overall prospect is one. That’s not the case with Bedard. He is as much of a sure thing in the NHL as a Draft prospect since Connor McDavid. He is a player built in the mold of Patrick Kane, but with the shooting ability of Auston Matthews. The hype surrounding him is warranted and Blackhawks fans should be over the moon that they get to see him become the next face of their franchise.
Monday night, Greg made the comparison of the Blackhawks winning the NHL Draft Lottery to the Chicago Cubs winning the World Series, and for me personally, that was spot on. It was a relief as much as it was a joy, at least at first. As time went on, and I got to visit the chalked-up Wrigley Field, reality set in. The beauty, and the difference, between the Cubs winning the World Series and the Blackhawks winning Connor Bedard is the fact that the fun STARTS now. We haven’t even seen Bedard in a Blackhawks sweater yet, despite some killer work from our guy Joey Spathis.
Bedard’s statistics speak for themselves. In 57 games with the Regina Pats, Bedard tallied 71 goals and 72 assists. That’s 143 points in 57 games. That’s 2.51 points per game! Even more impressive was his performance in the 2023 World Junior Championships. In seven games with Team Canada, Bedard had nine goals and 14 assists. 23 points in seven games against the best his age group has to offer.
This kid is going to be a hockey star.
For his teammates and fellow prospects, you can’t help but feel happy for them. Guys like Seth Jones and Connor Murphy, who have been consummate pros since joining the organization, have to feel a bit of relief today. Other prospects in the system, like Lukas Reichel, have to be licking their chops to play with Bedard.
For Blackhawks fans, the last few years have been difficult. We must acknowledge the organizational failure around Kyle Beach. There are many hockey fans around the country who feel the Blackhawks shouldn’t even have had the opportunity to make this pick and should have been sanctioned with draft capital being taken away, and perhaps they have a point. It didn’t happen, though. Everyone (with the exception of Rocky Wirtz) who was involved in the organization then is gone. Hopefully those now at the top can promise a better and safer environment for their prospects.
For us in the media, it is thrilling to be able to cover a player of this caliber. I wasn’t in the locker room for the ascent of the dynasty Blackhawks. Hopefully, I’ll be there for the next dynasty.
Adding Connor Bedard is indeed, “The Short Cut.”