A New Era: The Chicago Blackhawks Are Ready To Play

A New Era: The Chicago Blackhawks Are Ready To Play

Kayla Wisneski, Staff Writer

Wednesday, October 13th, begins the most wonderful time of the year; but I’m not talking about Christmas, I’m talking about the 2021 – 2022 NHL season.

There are many reasons why this season is like no other. Between a completely new team in the Seattle Kraken and continued COVID precautions, viewers have no idea what to expect. However, for fans of the Chicago Blackhawks, this season is one to look forward to. 

Due to both COVID and an unprecedented number of injuries, last season left something to be desired. Many integral players were out on extended injury leave, including captain Jonathan Toews. He was out with an unclear medical condition for the entirety of the 2020 – 2021 season, citing symptoms that left him feeling “drained” and “lethargic.” Many players were also sidelined for part of the season due to quarantining, one being rookie Brandon Hagel. Hagel played his first season for the Hawks last year and put up a formidable 24 points.  

However, this year the Hawks are back at full power. Toews and Hagel are back on the ice, as is Kirby Dach, who was previously out with a wrist injury. Dach is now playing in his third season, and he has proved himself to be a vital member of the team. Just last season he scored 10 points in just 18 games.

While the return of favorite players has everyone celebrating, it’s the new editions that are really going to put the Blackhawks on the map. 

Many have coined this season the “year of the brothers,” and for good reason. The Blackhawks traded center Mattias Janmark to the Vegas Golden Knights in order to acquire a second round pick, which they used to select Colton Dach, younger brother of Kirby Dach. While he isn’t slated to hit the ice right away, he did participate in training camps, solidifying himself as an important prospect. 

With the shocking trade of longtime veteran Duncan Keith, the Hawks had a lot of defensive holes to patch up. They started by acquiring defenseman Caleb Jones from the Edmonton Oilers, which was shortly followed by a trade to the Columbus Blue Jackets for his brother, Seth Jones. The brothers are both seasoned players, in their fourth and ninth seasons respectively. Duncan Keith left behind some big skates to fill, but the Jones brothers have risen to the challenge, already reported to be “fitting in well” with the rest of the team. 

But perhaps the most shocking new edition is that of elite netminder Marc Andre Fleury, from the Vegas Golden Knights. In the past four years, Fleury has become the face of Vegas, serving as their starting goalie since the beginning of the franchise in 2017. Hockey fans everywhere were surprised to see him traded, as he is an extremely valuable player. 

Fleury boasts a .913 save percentage in his career, which is an impressive 17 years since being drafted in 2003. He was selected first overall by the Pittsburgh Penguins, becoming the third goalie in history to be the first pick. 

Fleury is also one of the most decorated goalies of all time, earning 3 Stanley Cups and both the William M. Jennings trophy (an award given to “the goaltender(s) having played a minimum of 25 games for the team with the fewest goals scored against based on regular-season play) and the Vezina Trophy (an award given to the goaltender who is “adjudged to be the best at this position”) in 2021. His teammates and coaches know him for his competitive spirit and joking manner.

But even after the trade was official, fans weren’t sure if the 36 year old was going to play another season. However, Fleury announced he was ready to go on Instagram, saying “Chicago, let’s get to work.” As for when he’s going to retire, it’s still up in the air. “If I still can help my team and enjoy what I do every day and come to the rink, have fun, have a smile and be with the guys, that’s what’s going to dictate when I hang them up or keep playing,” said Fleury. 

The Chicago Blackhawks will play their first game against the Colorado Avalanche on Wednesday October 13th, at 9:00 pm.