Shiny golden baubles sometimes make people do some funny things.
For instance, Connor Bedard is the shiniest golden bauble currently playing junior hockey and he will be eligible for next summer’s National Hockey League amateur draft.
As a result, Chicago Blackhawks are doing some funny things to try to increase their chances of putting the North Vancouver native into a Blackhawk uniform.
Like trading their No. 1 sniper, 41-goal man Alex DeBrincat, to the Ottawa Senators for a mere draft pick. Like allowing top-six forwards Dominik Kubalik and Dylan Strome to become free agents. Like dealing the No. 3 draft pick from three years ago, Kirby Dach, to Montreal for a couple of draft picks.
Overall, five of Chicago’s top eight scorers from last year are gone. (Brandon Hagel was dealt to Florida late last season.)
It seems the Blackhawks’ organization asked itself “How bad can we be for the draft of 23?” and the answer has been “let us count the ways.”
The Blackhawks were fairly bad in 2021-22, finishing sixth in the seven-team Central Division with a 28-42-12 record. A rebuild was definitely called for, but most teams don’t undertake a reconstruction in such an obvious manner.
And, of course, because of the NHL’s draft lottery setup, there’s no guarantee an historically terrible season will win them the rights to Bedard, the 17-year-old Regina Pats superstar some are comparing to Connor McDavid.
The team with the worst record in the NHL gets a statistically better chance to win the No. 1 draft pick, but the 11 worst teams who missed the playoffs in 2021-22 will have sort of chance, albeit slim for most of them, to move up to No. 1.
Some of Chicago’s remaining pieces, such as veteran all-stars Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane, are said to be expecting the next shoe to drop before the season gets underway or before next year’s trading deadline.
Playoff teams with a chance for the Stanley Cup might pay handsomely for a player like Kane, and Toews offers untold veteran leadership.
Meanwhile, hockey fans in the Windy City, a ‘happenin’ town’ where not much will be happening on the ice, will have to grin and bear it during 2022-23, as their team gets to the bottom of the NHL standings early, and likely stays there.
Bedard, meanwhile, will go about his work with the Pats, and be helpless to determine his professional hockey fate. If it’s with the Blackhawks, the Chicago plan worked. If it’s elsewhere, Blackhawk fans may be wearing brown paper bags to games well into the future.
• Bob Molinaro of pilotonline.com, on Cowboys owner Jerry Jones long-winded media scrum to open training camp: “His way of reminding the world again that he’s the star of the franchise. The most dangerous place anyone can stand is between Jones and a camera.” • Marshall Stuart, via Twitter, after the Tigers’ Derek Law became the first pitcher to allow a homer, commit an error, hit a batter and throw a wild pitch in a single relief appearance: “Is that the Nuke LaLoosh hat trick?”
• Jack Finarelli, on his sports curmudgeon.com website, on Deshaun Watson returning from his six-game suspension for sexual misconduct on Oct. 23, in the midst of the NFL’s ‘appeal to women month’: “If he decides to ‘wear pink’ for those games, that decision could easily find itself in the Hall of Fame of Bad Decisions.”
• Steve Simmons of Sunmedia: “I have decided to adopt the Lou Lamoriello game plan for my life: Have a five-year plan that changes every day.”
• Comedy writer Gary Bachman: “Jets QB Zach Wilson invited WR Braxton Berrios over for dinner last night. Wilson passed the mashed potatoes and Berrios dropped them.”
• Jack Finarelli again, on games between non-contenders: “A series between the Pirates and the Rockies is as meaningful as serenading a corpse.”
• Another one from Bob Molinaro: “During its coverage of the Little League World Series, ESPN asks players cutesy questions, such as, ‘What’s your dream job?’ During a recent regional game, the answer from 11-year-old Missourian Brody Jackson flashed on the screen as ‘chicken nugget taste tester.’ And like that, a star was born.”
• Alan Shipnuck of the Firepit Collective, on the lawsuit filed by three LIV golf members who tried to get a court to allow them to play in the Fed-Ex Cup playoffs: “ (Had they won), the three plaintiffs would have died from frostbite in Memphis in August because of the frigid reception from their peers,” • Comedy writer Paul Lander, via Twitter, on Padres star Fernando Tatis Jr.’s 80-game PED suspension: “On the upside, he’ll be available for next year’s Kentucky Derby.”
• Thomas Carrieri of LostInBostonSports.com, via Twitter, on kids eating free whenever the Red Sox win: “The good news about this season is the Red Sox are single-handedly ending childhood obesity.”
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