CHICAGO — The No. 1 overall pick in the 2023 NHL Draft and the best prospect in years in professional hockey is getting an education on a number of fronts this September.
It’s a lesson that Connor Bedard will continue to learn over the next few months as he joins the Blackhawks, adjusting to life in the NHL and in Chicago.
There’s a lot to learn even for the talented center, who is now the face of the rebuilding Blackhawks in 2023-2024 about life on and off the ice. That continues in training camp, which the team is holding at Fifth Third Arena before their season opener October 10 against the Penguins in Pittsburgh.
Already that venue is featuring Bedard jerseys for sale in the lobby, further cementing the 18 year old’s place on the franchise’s hierarchy.
“I haven’t thought about it too much,” said Bedard if it’s hit him that he’s in the NHL and already has so much attention. “Kinda those first few times, it’s pretty crazy to think about, I guess. You kinda see somebody wearing your jersey or whatever, I think that’s pretty cool.
“It’s weird to think about, but when you’re kinda in the moment, you’re not too weird about it. But definitely now, when you sit back, it’s good.”
All is part of the process for Bedard to take on a major responsibility with the Blackhawks while also adjusting to life in the spotlight along with a major sports market.
Bedard says that he gets recognized in Chicago here and there, but mostly has been spending time at the team’s practice facility and with other teammates at their homes.
“Not a crazy amount, really,” said Bedard when asked what he’s gotten to know about Chicago. “I knew how nice it was, I’m learning about the drivers, they’re intense here, I’m trying to figure that out. It’s been great.
“The fans are unbelievable so far. I think that’s the best part for us is having that support and kinda feeling that. You really notice it. It’s a beautiful city so, like I said, I couldn’t be luckier to be here. I’m excited to learn more about it and kinda look around a bit.”
Another adjustment for Bedard has been cooking, which is something he’s slowly building up as he ventures out on his own.
“I just kinda FaceTime her (Connor’s mother), put her on the counter, and she tells me what to do,” said Bedard when asked about cooking, with his dishes so far including chicken, rice, and tacos.
That’s just one thing he’s getting to learn as a career that has many expectations for so many expectations gets underway.