A fascinating storyline this season will be how Chicago Blackhawks rookie Connor Bedard is viewed and compared throughout the season. He didn’t register a point in the Blackhawks 3-2 shootout loss to the Minnesota Wild and had a few moments where (gasp!) he looked like a rookie.
Why isn’t this expected? Because lost in all of the preseason is the fact that Connor Bedard has been hyped since he entered his teenage years. The spotlight has burned on the kid for years and now it’s going to be scorching–especially outside of Chicago. Because there’s still an awful lot of sour grapes that the Blackhawks won the lottery and were able to get him first overall.
Why can’t people just be happy about their prospects playing well? Why do we have to put down other prospects? Let alone an 18-year-old kid? https://t.co/ITGouLIkVL
— Chicago Prospects (@Chi_Prospects) October 6, 2023
What Chicago fans have to deal with now is the damned-if-you-do, damned-if-you-don’t argument. It goes something like this:
- If Bedard turn out to be the superstar everyone thought he would be, it’s crap because the Blackhawks never should have been able to get him in the first place
- If Bedard turns out to be not as generational, it’s a full-bellied laugh at Chicago, and how they missed–especially if Adam Fantilli laps him or someone a bit lower turns out to be the next Cale Makar
It’s an unfair position but one that sports fans do constantly. And why? To cloak their insecurities of the psychological hangups when it comes to their sports team. Everyone does it. Hell, look at the Cubs pre 2016. Cubs fans would mentally prepare themselves for the collapse until the 108 years of demons were finally exorcised.
This is a bit different, but the thread is awfully similar.
Bedard Will Be Fine and So Will the Blackhawks
It’ll be another rebuild year where the Blackhawks lose more than they win–probably by a wide margin–but that’s by design and allows youth to figure things out with veterans like Nick Foligno and Corey Perry around to help show them the ropes.
It’s disingenuous to think that Bedard hasn’t been as good as others. Its irrelevant to compare to other teams because Bedard’s case is different than Fantilli’s or Logan Cooley’s. Everything is subjective to its situation. Look no further than the New York Rangers’ former first overall pick in Alexis Lafrenière. Once a can’t miss, he’s struggled mightily with the Rangers and now there’s rumblings he may be relegated to the fourth line.
Really? A can’t-miss prospect taken first overall just three years ago? He was supposed to be the guy that pushed an up and coming Rangers squad over the top.
“For the most part Lafreniere has looked like an undrafted invitee to training camp on a tryout.” Things aren’t going well for Alexis Lafreniere in New York… https://t.co/jUuIxxN8Hp
— HabsLinks (@HabsLinks) October 5, 2023
The situation was different in that Bedard has been afforded far more time and way less pressure in his first season. The Rangers were positioning for the playoffs and a run in his rookie campaign. It was also during the bizarre Covid shortened season.
Regardless, just because Bedard isn’t putting the puck in the net every game or that there’s genuine excitement over what he could be isn’t an issue.
It’s normal. And down the road, when Bedard is exactly what everyone thought he was, the debate will seem silly.
But like the thoughts pre-draft that he wouldn’t play for Chicago or sign with them if he was taken first overall, this is shrug worthy. Five points in four games, and his vision on the ice has been what’s expected.
Hell, he drew three penalties in the 3-2 loss to the Minnesota Wild Thursday night.
Maybe Blackhawks head coach Luke Richardson put it best.
“We’re going to have to trust a guy with that kind of talent and vision,” Richardson said. “When he thinks it’s right to shoot or when he thinks it’s right to hold onto the puck or make a play.”
In other words, trust in what he’s always been–the generational talent who only gets better.