CHICAGO — It’s been quite a summer for the new face of the Chicago Blackhawks, from the NHL Draft to events featuring stars of professional hockey.
But Connor Bedard is happy to finally get the chance to do what he enjoys best this weekend: Play hockey.
“It’s what we all want to do,” said Bedard after taking part in the Blackhawks’ prospect practice on Thursday at Fifth Third Arena. “Of course, there’s been a lot of photos and interviews and everything, which is great. But I wanna play hockey, that’s what I love.
“So it’s good to kinda get back here and get everything started and focus on that.”
That will happen for the NHL’s No. 1 overall pick this weekend when he takes part in the Tom Kurvers Prospect Showcase in St. Paul, Minnesota. Bedard will get the chance to face the best young players from the St. Louis Blues organization at 6 p.m. on Saturday with a scrimmage against the Minnesota Wild’s prospects taking place on Sunday at 3 p.m.
“I love being in a routine and having that kinda get up and go to the rink and be with the same guys every day, build those relationships, and work towards a common goal of being a better team and winning games, of course. That’s really exciting for all of us,” said Bedard, who has had a fair share of experiences this summer.
He’s had some time to rest after the NHL Draft on June 28 and the off-ice development camp with the Blackhawks’ rookies that took place in Chicago that week. Over the past few weeks, however, Bedard has been busy, taking part in the four-day BioSteel NHL Camp in Halifax, Nova Scotia with 30 other NHL players.
This week, he was in the Las Vegas area taking part in the NHL’s media tour, where he was able to talk with a number of stars in the league, including one of his hockey heroes Sidney Crosby.
“It’s a bit of both,” said Bedard when asked if it was surreal being at those events or if he thought he belonged. “When you’re actually playing and doing things, you want to be good and compete, so that doesn’t sound really surreal, but sometimes you kinda go home or after practice and go, ‘Damn, that’s pretty cool.’
“It’s a bit of both, but when you’re in the gym or on the ice it’s just hockey and you’re trying to do your best.”
Now he’ll finally get to do that, playing his first hockey contest since he was with the Regina Pats of the Western Hockey League this weekend. Some might wonder why he would take part in the event since training camp is coming up next week and the start of the season is less than a month away.
But the Kurvers Prospect Showcase will serve as a way for the prospect to fully prepare for the start of his first NHL season.
“I think that’s what will get me ready to be honest with you,” said Bedard. “I haven’t played a game in a long time, and that’s what I want to do, and I’m a rookie, and like any other guy here. I wanna play a game so bad, it’s been so long, so I’m really excited for that.”
So many are excited to see him play the game he loves for the first time in the NHL over the next few weeks.