Kirby Dach’s continued ascent in the hockey world during 2020 took another step forward on Friday, as Dach was named the captain for Team Canada ahead of the 2021 World Juniors that begin on Christmas Day.
The 2020 No. 3 overall pick dazzled during Canada’s training camp and a few intra-squad scrimmages:
Two other players who were in the mix for that No. 3 overall pick in 2019 that Chicago used on Dach will be the alternate captains: defenseman Bowen Bryam (No. 4 overall to Colorado) and forward Dylan Cozens (No. 7 overall to Buffalo).
It’s Friday afternoon, and there are a few other Blackhawks lingering around the internet, so let’s dive into them:
Stan Bowman addresses media
Fresh off his recent promotion/reassignment/whatever, Stan Bowman visited with the media on Friday morning for his first public comments since the draft. Much of what Bowman said was related to his talent for lengthy sentences that don’t convey much, but a few nuggets related to a couple current Blackhawks were mentioned:
Regarding the continued lack of a contract for restricted free agent Dylan Strome:
#Blackhawks president of hockey ops/GM Stan Bowman on RFA Dylan Strome: "We have had conversations with his agent. Ongoing discussions. I’m always optimistic we’ll get something done."— Brandon Cain (@brandonmcain) December 18, 2020
And here’s an update on 2020 first-round pick Lukas Reichel, who recently tested positive for the coronavirus:
Stan Bowman on #Blackhawks prospect Lukas Reichel testing positive for COVID-19: "Whenever anyone test positive for COVID there's reason for concern. Thankfully the reports we've gotten are promising and he's not suffering the ill effects some people do."— Brandon Cain (@brandonmcain) December 18, 2020
It hasn’t gotten any better for Germany since its team arrived in Edmonton for the World Juniors, either. An announcement from the IIHF on Friday reported that eight more German players have tested positive and is in quarantine until Christmas Eve.
Still no official word on start of 2020-21 NHL season
The last reports on the start of the next NHL season pegged Jan. 13 as a start date — in a little over three weeks. But there’s been minimal reporting about any significant progress towards making that proposal a reality. The latest hang-up appears to be related to the plan for a division of all-Canadian teams, with recent pandemic restrictions in that country raising questions about the possibility of any hockey games being played there. One potential resolution is moving all of those teams to the US and another round of divisional realignment.
TSN’s Pierre LeBrun reported that there will be a call for the NHLPA’s executive board on Friday to provide an update on any progress.
OHL season issues?
One specific part of Canada has seen a massive increase in its coronavirus numbers lately, and that’s led to some apprehension about the status of the upcoming OHL season, according to this update from reporter Rick Westhead:
Covid-19 numbers are exploding and Southern Ontario is likely to be locked down until mid-Jan at least.— Rick Westhead (@rwesthead) December 18, 2020
While the OHL says it hopes a season can start Feb. 1, several player agents tell me they're advising young players to come to terms w possibility season will be canceled.
A pair of Blackhawks prospects would be directly affected by any significant issues with the next OHL season. Defenseman Isaak Phillips, a fifth-round pick (141st overall), plays for the Sudbury Wolves while center Chad Yetman, a sixth-round pick (172nd overall), plays for the Erie Otters.