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Blackhawks Wrap: Keep Testing Your Limits

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This Sunday’s Cinema and Blackhawks Blend builds off of last week’s selection which looked at how great moments are born from great opportunity–albeit it in a different vein and angle.

The expected, but next great moment in Connor Bedard’s future with the Chicago Blackhawks happened when he signed his entry-level deal Monday. So now, the contract is on the books.

Now what? Well, now, Bedard puts on his metaphorical cape, straps the hopes and dreams of an organization and its fans onto his shoulders, and begins his NHL journey.

Today’s blend borrows from a line in the 2013 film Man of Steelwhich is the rebooted origin story of Superman. While Bedard isn’t exactly an alien from another planet, he does exhibit qualities that put him on another level.

It also brings expectations that at times bring some heavy weight as well.

Superman Also Needed to Learn to Fly

In the 2013 film produced by Jonathan Nolan, the story follows how Kal-El becomes Superman. It shows how he arrived to earth, the adjustments he has to make harnessing the gifts he has, and then trying to understand what his purpose is.

But the scene that goes with today’s quote is when Superman finally comes to be. Here he is, in the frigid cold learning how to fly, the words of his father narrating his motivation. As he walks in the frigid Artic ice, he’s finally coming to terms with the powers and gifts he possessed. His first attempt at flight ends with a fall back to gravity, crashing through a mountain and then thudding back to the unforgiving ice. But his will is undeterred as again, Superman flies again, this time successfully.

Prior to the first flight, which ended with him careening back to Earth, Kal-El hears his father’s soothing voice (played brilliantly by both Russell Crowe as Jor-El and Henry Cavill as Superman). Jor-El explains how he arrived at his powers and then admits he’s even better than he ever could have imagined. But how can he understand just the full magnitude of his gift?

“The only way to know how strong [you are],” Jor-El says, “Is to keep testing your limits.”

Bedard Has Always Tested His Limits

Bedard has spoken almost exhaustively about how he sets goals and how he maintains to meet them. It’s also been just as exhaustively written about how Bedard constantly exceeds those expectations.

Now he steps onto the ice himself and not only grapples with what his career will look like, but also the high expectations placed on him. It’e been a constant since he was 13 years old, profiled in the Hockey News as the subject of Ken Campbell’s article five years ago.

Lost in all of the excitement is that at the end of the day, he’s still a young kid figuring things out. At 18, I was a senior in high school working a part-time job. I was trying to decide on a college and was lucky to not feel as if my world was ending when I blew off studying for a test and had to take it cold in the morning.

They say life is relative to one’s experience and often subjective. Stressors for one may not be the same for others. So when Bedard simply shrugs off the attention, he’s not being flippant. A 13-year-old Bedard sounded an awful lot like the 17-year-old version answering one question after another. He’s been prepared for all of this, grounded by a very modest family, and finds solace through the relationship he had with his late grandfather.

But at some point, that pressure and expectation has an effect on him, too. Unlike Superman, Bedard is in fact human.

“I’m a normal person in the end,” Bedard said after a week of development camp.  “That’s something, you have a little more noise around you or whatever, people may forget that a little bit. I’m a human being, I’m still a 17-year-old kid. There are responsibilities that come along with the noise and attention and stuff, and I’m aware of that, but in the room, I’m just one of the guys and in life and with my family. I’m a normal person.”

A normal person who has been testing his limits since he was in middle school. For every goal cleared, a new one has been set in his path in what is hockey’s version of a daily checklist.

The Chicago Blackhawks have a generational talent in a now 18-year-old kid who is ready for the bright lights of the NHL. He’s polished, humble, and unbelievably talented. But at the end of the day, when the Blackhawks likely go through a rough season, he has a poor game, or has to face the same questions again, those limits will be tested.

He won’t fly with ease at first–there will be those who want to teach him the harsh realities of what a man’s league is. But like Superman, he stands for more than that. Though it’s a game intertwined in a business, Bedard seeks more out of it. That his talent, the one that takes a stick and a puck and allows to him to create masterful moments, has to be more.

He’ll test those limits, likely exceed them as he has before while still being the person he’s always been.

“You know you have an impact on a lot of kids and a lot of people in the world,” Bedard said.  “I look at it more as it’s an honor to be able to impact kids or people or maybe get someone to try hockey, get someone to start loving the game as much as I do. Just try to look at that as a positive and just try to be the best person I can be.”

CHN Top 10

  1. Connor Bedard’s contract is another step forward for the Blackhawks
  2. NHL Network ranks the Blackhawks prospect pipeline as the fourth best. How does it shake out?
  3. With Fan Duel Canada setting Bedard’s goal total, what does history say about it?
  4. What about a Jake DeBrusk trade to Chicago? Does it work or even make sense?
  5. Some love for Eddie Belfour
  6. And Steve Larmer, too. Whose number should be retired
  7. Beyond the Numbers on Bedard and Instant Success with the Blackhawks
  8. Chicago’s prospect with arguably the best name signs a deal with Rockford
  9. Puckdoku Profiles of Fun: Rock ‘Em Sock ‘Em Veterans
  10. On what the arbitration meeting means with Philipp Kurashev and the Blackhawks

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