Connor Bedard training camp updates for the Blackhawks star rookie


Connor Bedard, the NHL’s most-anticipated rookie in nearly a decade, is officially in Chicago.

Despite his insistence that he’s just another player battling for a spot in the Blackhawks’ Oct. 10 opening-night lineup, all eyes will focus on him throughout training camp and the preseason as he makes the leap from junior to pro hockey.

The Hawks will likely struggle as a team again this season, but Bedard’s rate of development and production could provide plenty of excitement and long-term optimism anyway.

Here are day-by-day updates on Bedard’s first Hawks camp:

Sept. 28, Day 7 of camp: Bedard impressive in preseason debut

Bedard tallied assists on both Hawks goals in a 2-1 overtime win over the Blues in Thursday’s preseason opener. He also tallied nine shot attempts, including five on goal, and a 70.3% expected-goals ratio during five-on-five play in 21:20 of total ice time.

But he was hardly thrilled with his play overall.

“I don’t think I personally played great,” he said. “I’ve got a lot better than that from myself hopefully coming forward, but it was a good start.”

Read the full story here:

Sept. 27, Day 6 of camp: Bedard, Korchinski keep grinding

Nearly a half-hour after the organized portion of Hawks practice ended Wednesday, Bedard and defensive prospect Kevin Korchinski were still on the ice, practicing tipping point shots and passes to set up one-timers.

The two top prospects are good friends after facing each other in WHL games last season and playing together on Canada’s World Junior Championship team.

They’re also both expected to play, barring any surprises, in the Hawks’ preseason opener Thursday against the Blues.

Sept. 26, Day 5 of camp: Bedard and Hall keep building chemistry

In another scrimmage Tuesday, Bedard recorded one primary assist but easily could’ve earned a couple more if not for spectacular saves by goalie Arvid Soderblom.

He and Taylor Hall have already built strong chemistry on and off the ice. Their opposite handedness lends itself to juicy one-timer plays off faceoffs and on the power play, while their speed and puck control make them dangerous in transition, too.

“They probably see the game the same way,” coach Luke Richardson said. “[Taylor] thinking on the same level is going to be huge for Connor to have a guy to rely on.”

Read the full story here:

Sept. 25, Day 4 of camp: Bedard scores twice in scrimmage

In an intra-team scrimmage Monday — three days ahead of the first preseason game Thursday — Bedard received five shifts and scored goals on two of them.

The first finished off a pretty end-to-end rush with Taylor Hall. The other was a one-timer from slightly further out set up by Ryan Donato — a goal which came shortly after a defensive miscue that Bedard was upset at himself about.

“I don’t think I could get away with that in pee-wee hockey,” Bedard said. “That’s hockey, I guess. You make mistakes and sometimes things go your way. Obviously [I’m] still learning stuff.”

Donato mentioned the Hawks are learning how Bedard’s incredible shot doesn’t preclude him from making great passes to set up his teammates, too.

“He keeps on finding guys and giving them opportunities when they’re not really ready for it yet,” Donato said. “He’s catching guys off-guard. He’s a playmaker, too.”

Sept. 23, Day 3 of camp: Bedard gets his partner

Taylor Hall made his camp debut Saturday and immediately slotted in alongside Bedard on the first line. Surprisingly, however, Ryan Donato stuck as the other winger opposite them rather than Tyler Johnson, as had been expected.

Bedard’s skills have been the talk of camp, and various Hawks players and coaches have given fascinating analyses of the different things they’ve noticed he does so well. Read that full story here:

Bedard also spent some time with Nick Foligno in two-on-two drills that comprised a big portion of practice. Foligno told a funny story about his kids going wild the first time Bedard came over for dinner.

“I had to give him the riot act like, ‘Don’t act crazy, it’s just a person!’” Foligno said. “I think as soon as he walked in, they just handed him a mini stick like, ‘Let’s go!’ Poor kid, he was down on his knees the whole day. But I think he loved it more than they did, probably. It’s sad that I’m not even their favorite player anymore.”

The Hawks will have an off day Sunday before holding a scrimmage on Day 4 of camp Monday.

Sept. 22, Day 2 of camp: Bedard settles in

Bedard continued skating with Tyler Johnson and Ryan Donato as camp continued Friday.

“All [three guys] have an ability to shoot,” coach Luke Richardson said. “I thought it was a good start to give Connor some guys who have experience scoring at the NHL level and the ability to make plays at his kind of intelligent level. [As] we’ll move along, we’ll let other people have that opportunity, too.”

The Hawks also appeared to do some five-on-four practice for the first time, but Richardson later said they were simply practicing five-on-five tactics with one man removed in order to help out the offense.

Sept. 21, Day 1 of camp: Bedard hits the ice

A sold-out crowd of fans at Fifth Third Arena — where the Hawks had to start ticketing practices this season to avoid Bedard mania leading to overcrowding — watched Bedard hit the ice Thursday for his first-ever day of Hawks training camp.

“Once you’re on the ice, it’s hockey and you try not to be starstruck,” Bedard said. “But waking up and talking to my parents last night about it, it’s pretty special. To be here with the fans in this city and everything, it’s remarkable. I feel super fortunate. It’s definitely a dream right now.”

With Taylor Hall, Bedard’s expected mentor and near-constant linemate this season, sidelined by a lower-body injury, Bedard skated on a line with Tyler Johnson and Ryan Donato.

Bedard looked fully comfortable in the drills that Hawks coach Luke Richardson led the team through before enduring his first grueling session of end-of-practice conditioning laps. He’ll have to learn Richardson’s systems relatively quickly.

“[It’ll take] a couple practices of getting used to it and figuring it out and talking to other guys,” he said. “It’s not too hard, but it’s good and I think it should be quick.”

Bedard said he has been FaceTiming his mom for cooking advice and also going over to Nick Foligno’s house for some companionship since moving to Chicago. But he got the biggest laugh when asked what he has learned about the city so far.

“I’m learning about the drivers — they’re intense here,” he quipped.


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