Chicago Blackhawks rookie forward Connor Bedard did not return after taking a huge open-ice hit in the first period of Monday’s 4-2 loss to the New Jersey Devils.
The Blackhawks announced that Bedard would not play the remainder of the game before the second period. He played four shifts and 3:05 of ice time at night.
After the game, Chicago coach Luke Richardson did not have much information about Bedard.
“Not back in the game yet,” Richardson said when asked about Bedard. “We will take everyone home and obviously get them tested at home to see if there is anything further. So hopefully we’ll know more tomorrow.”
Road trip from hell for the Blackhawks.
12/29 at Dallas: Taylor Reddish hurt. No timetable.
Dallas 12/31: Tyler Johnson hurt. Feet in walking boots.
Nashville in 1/2: Anthony Beauvillier hurt. Arm in a sling.
Jersey at 1/5: Connor Bedard gets injured. TBD.
– Mark Lazerus (@MarkLazerus) 6 January 2024
The injury occurred when Bedard was handling the puck through the Devils’ defense, splitting two defenders at the blue line and skating straight to attack Devils defenseman Brandon Smith. The force of the blow knocked Bédard onto the ice and he immediately grabbed his face with his right hand. Bedard stood up, skated off the ice and went straight to the Blackhawks’ dressing room.
Bedard wasn’t the only player Chicago lost to injury Friday. Forward Nick Foligno left the game after fighting with Smith in the second period. The Blackhawks announced that Foligno would not play the remainder of the game before the third period. Foligno has eight goals and nine assists in 39 games this season.
Chicago forward Boris Katchauk thought the hit on Bédard was dirty.
“Everyone saw it was dirty, so I think it’s dirty,” Katchouk said.
Richardson was less certain.
“I haven’t really seen it very often yet,” Richardson said. “I saw it right away on the bench. I don’t know if it was dirty or not. I think Connor was reaching for the puck and he didn’t see it because he was behind one of their players. I don’t think he made a move on her. I think he just stopped and Connor ran straight towards him.
“I don’t think it was intended to attack or anything. I just think he was working hard on the blue line and trying to keep the puck out on the penalty kill.
Richardson was pleased to have Foligno come forward in defense of Bedard.
“Players always take exception and are more heated because they’re invested and they’re their teammates,” Richardson said. “It’s always a good thing. This is a good sign. This team is a good close team and has been all year. He did very good work there. I thought he lifted people up and they took away any punishment that Nick might get tonight. Nick is such a leader.”
The 18-year-old Bedard, the No. 1 overall pick in the 2023 draft, was named to the NHL All-Star Game on Thursday. He has 15 goals and 18 assists in 39 games this season.
Bedard is the latest player to join the Blackhawks’ growing injury list. Their injury reserve list already included Taylor Hall, Seth Jones, Tyler Johnson, Taylor Raddish, Anthony Beauvillier, Joey Anderson and Andreas Athanasiou.
(Photo: Rich Gresley/NHLI via Getty Images)