Paul Sullivan: Blackhawks need to get back to their losing ways to help save the rebuild -- Connor Bedard is waiting
Published in Hockey
CHICAGO — With five wins in six games after their 4-1 victory against the Flyers in Philadelphia on Thursday, the Chicago Blackhawks have proved something to their loyal fans.
They’re no good at tanking.
Unfortunately at this point most Hawks fans would be much happier if they tried to tank a little harder, giving them a better chance in the draft lottery, in which game-changing center Connor Bedard awaits as the No. 1 pick.
Bedard, 17, recently was named Most Valuable Player at the 2023 World Junior Championship, guiding Team Canada to a gold medal and leading the tournament in goals (nine), assists (14) and points (23). He was the seventh player all time to be granted exceptional player status to enter the Canadian Hockey League at an early age and on Thursday was leading the Western Hockey League in goals (36) and points (78) in 31 games.
Bedard already is one of the most famous hockey names around and may be the third most talked-about player between periods at the United Center behind Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews.
Every Blackhawks fan knows exactly what is at stake here. So does general manager Kyle Davidson, coach Luke Richardson and everyone on the ice.
“He is one of the more natural scorers to come along since Patrick Kane with a draft hype reminiscent of Connor McDavid and Sidney Crosby,” vice president of NHL Central Scouting Dan Marr said in an NHL news release. “Like those three, Bedard is a player that can bring you out of your seat.”
Or actually put you into a seat, which is the kind of player the Blackhawks are hoping to get in the draft.
The Hawks are guaranteed a top-three pick if they finish at the bottom of the league, so they’ll no doubt get a very talented player either way. But what matters most right now is trying to get in good position to draft Bedard, who would fast-forward the rebuild, help fill the United Center regularly and draw national attention to a franchise that has fallen on hard times since being a golden team in the 2010s.
Getting the No. 1 pick would be the best thing to happen to the Hawks since they selected Kane with the first pick of the 2007 draft. Bedard could make the Hawks relevant again, just as Kane and Toews did at the start of their careers.
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