Chicago Blackhawks rookie phenom Connor Bedard left Friday’s game in the first period after taking a hit to the head and the 18-year-old North Vancouver native’s first game at Rogers Arena against the Vancouver Canucks is slated for just over two weeks from now.
Chicago’s here on Jan. 22, kicking off a four-game Western swing. The Canucks were Bedard’s favourite team growing up; he’s talked about crying for a week after the 2011 Stanley Cup Final.
The Canucks beat the Blackhawks 4-3 in Chicago on Dec. 17. Bedard had two assists.
The Blackhawks were visiting the New Jersey Devils on Friday and Bedard was crossing into the offensive zone when he was checked high by Devils defenceman Brendan Smith. He left the game immediately, holding a hand to his mouth.
Smith didn’t get a penalty on the play. He did fight Chicago veteran forward Nick Foligno in the second period.
Blackhawks coach Luke Richardson told reporters afterwards that Bedard would be evaluated Saturday when the team returned to Chicago.
Bedard was the No. 1 pick in the 2023 NHL Draft and leads the Blackhawks in scoring with 33 points, including 15 goals. He was named to the 2024 NHL All-Star Game on Thursday.
“Well, I think he obviously banged his head, but I’m not sure,” Richardson said. “I just got in there now and haven’t heard anything other than everybody’s coming home tonight, everybody’s fine to come home and we’ll get him checked out at home.
“ … [The trainers] didn’t say that he’s got a concussion, but we’ll just wait until we get home and checked out thoroughly.”
Richardson told reporters that “I don’t know if it was dirty.”
“I think Connor was reaching for a puck and didn’t see him because he was behind another one of their players,” he continued “I don’t think he stepped up on him. I just think he kind of stopped and Connor ran headfirst right into him.”
Chicago winger Boris Katchouk believed otherwise, saying: “Everybody saw it. It’s dirty. I think that’s dirty.”
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