CHICAGO – When the Chicago Blackhawks won the 2023 NHL Draft Lottery, there’s no superlative to describe the fan reaction. Diehard fan Alex Buccola enjoyed every second of it not only because of what it meant, but because of the nostalgia it provided.
“It was an instant flashback to when Patrick Kane got drafted and became my idol,” Buccola recalled. “I started thinking about how many young kids in the Chicagoland area are gonna be wearing #98 now.”
For those who have followed the Blackhawks through thick and thin, Monday’s Draft Lottery victory was something they hoped for, but wasn’t exactly what they thought would happen. Buccola is not only a lifelong fan, but played the sport for 13 years. He grew up at the rink and was at preseason games as an infant–back when it was practically an open seating policy since the team was struggling. Hockey is in his blood and the Blackhawks winning the chance to draft a generational player was indescribable.
Cathy Ek is a decades-long fan who grew up watching the Blackhawks on the only television in the house. The 70’s Blackhawks lost Bobby Hull but gained a young fan. Enduring decades of ebb and flow hockey, Ek sees this as an opportunity for the Blackhawks to shorten things.
“The pick has changed the entire outlook for the next two years,” she said. “They will no longer be irrelevant.”
Chicago Blackhawks Fans Excited That the Rebuild Will be Shortened
Perhaps the biggest takeaway was how the opportunity to take a player of Bedard’s caliber trims the rebuild’s length.
“I really think it means the Hawks are 2-3 years now from being a playoff,” Buccola said. “This cuts it from a five-year plan and that probably means the most to me. We’ll get a contending team quicker.”
“They’ve gone from being irrelevant the last eight years to having something,” Ek said. “Between dumb trades, and then the dagger, seeing Kane and (Jonathan)Toews go, things are now in a much better place.”
It’s anyone’s guess just how long it will take but it’s certainly seems like it’ll be a shorter timeframe than initially thought. Scoring $5.2M in revenue following the news certainly speaks to that.
But for all the wondering about the timeline, what should Davidson do with the draft capital he’s acquired?
What should Davidson do with the Draft Capital?
So what should the Chicago Blackhawks do?
Here’s where the consenus believes Davidson is not only the right man for the job, but there’s a variety of moves that could be made to continue the speed up on the rebuild.
Says Buccola: “I would like to see Davidson trade up in the draft this year to add in more offensive threats that Bedard could play with. For that, the right prospect would ahve to fall. If that isn’t reasonable, than just pick at 20.”
Ek would like to see the defensive side of the team fleshed out a bit. Beyond that, it’s supporting Bedard with the right players.
“I’d like to see them build around Bedard with some good, young players but also some veterans,” she said.
Longtime fan Jeff Busam compares this draft to what the Chicago Bears have been doing.
“They need help everywhere at this point,” Busam said. “It would be cool to see them package some of those second rounders to get another first.”
Busam’s 11-year-old son plays hockey but didn’t share in the euphoria. As a defenseman, he worships Cale Makar. It shows how one player can define their alliegance.
Such as what Bedard can do for Chicago and beyond.
Aside from Bedard, Busam feels a younger core, much like the championship run back in 2010-2015, would be fun to see again.
“I think Bedard changes things for sure,” Busam said. “However, it would be nice to have a bunch of young guys growing up together like they did the last time.”
Whatever Davidson decides to do, a small sampling of fans shows that he likely has the most patience and grace to work with.
Getting the rights to draft a generational player like Bedard will do that.