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Blackhawks Column: The Young Core Has Its First Big Moment

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Who knows–maybe this is the game where it all started. Where years from now, the presumed future leaders of the Chicago Blackhawks–Connor Bedard and Kevin Korchinski–circle and point to it as the turning point.

Of course there will be still be some tough games between then and now–along with some lessons learned.

But something felt different Friday night–from the effort that propelled the Blackhawks to victory to the raucous crowd that thundered as if it were the golden years of the 2010s.

The ones that came with Stanley Cups.

Indeed, something changed Friday afternoon and maybe it won’t be evident right away. But it most certainly felt different for the first time in a long while.

Blackhawks Team Effort Included the Young Core

It felt like an eternity as the puck banged off the boards, bounced onto the net, rolled off and onto the ice before finally before being whacked into the back of the net. It was Bedard who started the play, circling around the net, through the left circle, and ripping a shot so hard it slingshot back to the top of the cage.

It was the other teenager–another part of that young core–Kevin Korchinski–who flung the puck to where it was intended. The incredible comeback–from what early on appeared a lackluster effort–culminated with a game winner from the 19-year-old rookie.

“Yeah the puck was bouncing and it was just scrambly,” Korchinski said of his first career NHL game-winner. “Just went to the net and got a good bounce. It’s really fortunate.”

Fortunate? Maybe. But having the instincts to know where to be hardly has to do with fortune.

When general manager Kyle Davidson traded fan favorite Alex DeBrincat to get the seventh overall pick in the 2022 NHL Draft, he saw those instincts–raw as they were a year-and-a-half-ago. He was taking a calculated risk sending an established, 23-year-old, 40-goal scorer to the Ottawa Senators.

There were those who thought the young GM was getting the bad end of the deal.

But on a November afternoon nearly 17 months later, that kid with afterburners for skates and acute offensive instincts made good on that hunch.

Korchinski, along with Bedard, are the centerpieces of this rebuild, make no mistake about that. Bedard, however, was a sure bet, can’t miss prospect. But Korchinski was more of a question mark–not in ability but if he would live up to not only where he was selected, but for who was given up in the deal.

Wednesday looked like what the Blackhawks bargained for with Korchinski and Bedard.

Blackhawks Young Core Building To Something

Now, it’s just one game–and the Blackhawks are going to experience what head coach Luke Richardson called the ups and downs of a season. At 6-12, they’ve already experienced plenty.

The key, though, is extending the ups while limiting the downs.

“We’re in a building process right here. We have to have desire to keep building,” Richardson said.  “We can’t have the stumbling block every once in a while. If it happens once, we should really learn from that and just keep bringing that up as a reminder that that cannot happen again in our process here.”

The process took its first big step Friday afternoon with the team not missing out on what was a terrific performance from Jason Dickinson’s first career hat trick. The effort wasn’t in vain as the young core at three-on-three in overtime put the game away with earsplitting cheers enveloping it all.

Likely it’s the first of many moments–which includes some downs with those ups in the process.

But what a way to start that process.

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