Blackhawks’ Connor Bedard Will Enjoy Rookie Season, Bring Maturity, Skills Coach Says

Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY

A new era for the Chicago Blackhawks will get underway when the puck drops against the Pittsburgh Penguins on Oct. 10. Connor Bedard will take the ice for his first regular season game as the face of the franchise.

Bedard knew where he was going when the Blackhawks won the NHL Draft Lottery in May. Now, how is the 18-year-old preparing for his rookie season in Chicago? Bedard’s longtime skills coach, Jon Calvano, spoke recently on the latest Blackhawks Talk Podcast and shared the advice that he gave the youngster. 

While the No. 1 overall selection in 2023 will receive guidance from everyone, Calvano stated his desire for the center to keep it simple. He wants Bedard to relish the wild ride of a rookie season. 

“Just enjoying it,” Calvano told NBC Sports Chicago’s Pat Boyle and Charlie Roumeliotis. “Like enjoying that opportunity, it’s every kid’s dream to play in the NHL, let alone be drafted and now, I guess, be the inherent superstar of an Original Six franchise with so many great players coming through. 

“I know he’s super excited about his commitment to the organization … I think he’s so embraced in being a Blackhawk great that he doesn’t want to miss anything that involves that opportunity.”

Even though the British Columbia native wants to establish himself as the next superstar, he should take his rookie season as a learning experience. Intake all the mistakes and successes to mold his game to become the next young player to dominate the league at an early age.

Connor Bedard Will Bring Maturity to the Blackhawks

Bedard seems to have the right mentality heading into Year 1 in the NHL. Even though the teenager has the “savior” label, he’s one piece of a puzzle that hopes to return the Blackhawks to the top of the Western Conference.

Furthermore, Calvano shared a story that reveals how playing in the NHL won’t be an overwhelming experience for Bedard. During an offseason training session, the Blackhawks star was unfazed by skating with NHL players at such a young age.

“He just jumped into the drill,” Calvano added. “There was no aweness of anybody. It was just, ‘OK, I’m a hockey player. I’m out here, and I’m going to jump in, and I’m going to give you a pass, Ryan [Nugent-Hopkins],’ and you kind of sat back and just realized that’s pretty odd for a ten-year-old not to be phased by an NHL player.

“That mindset of his just never changed (…) [The] young kid got dressed, did his thing, jumped on the ice, did his thing, got off the ice and left, like no picture, no autographs (…) So I think just that mindset he had from a young age. It obviously has helped him throughout his career thus far.”

Bedard’s mindset of knowing that he belongs despite his birth year will come in handy this upcoming season. Nonetheless, the Blackhawks have several veterans to take on the leadership role and not burden Bedard with too much responsibility out of the gate.

The Blackhawks have had a few tough years since their three Stanley Cup trophies in six seasons. Nonetheless, luck shined on Chicago, as they now have a mature and young superstar to build around for the foreseeable future.

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