With Tuesday’s game against the Columbus Blue Jackets postponed due to the ongoing global pandemic and the latest variant omicron, the Blackhawks continued to practice and saw some familiar faces rejoin the team.
In very good news, Jujhar Khaira — out since taking a hit from Jacob Trouba against the Rangers on Dec. 7 — could be ready for Saturday’s home game against the Nashville Predators:
Jujhar Khaira could potentially return Saturday vs. Nashville, Derek King indicated.— Ben Pope (@BenPopeCST) December 28, 2021
Additionally, Tyler Johnson was on the ice for the first time since getting the same neck surgery as Jack Eichel:
In bad news, Brett Connolly, who was sent to the taxi squad after it became an official thing again until the All-Star Break, will not have games count towards his suspension on the taxi squad:
Derek King said that Brett Connolly's suspension will remain at 4 games as long as he's on the taxi squad. The games do not click off until he's back on the active roster.— John Dietz (@johndietzdh) December 28, 2021
Luckily, the Blackhawks have not announced any additional changes to COVID-19 protocol, meaning that goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury remains the sole player on Chicago’s list.
Kirby Dach understands the frustration surrounding his career so far, and shares those frustrations:
Kirby Dach: "I just want to become the player I know I am. It’s been 2.5 years... It's frustrating. It sucks. As much as an athlete shouldn’t be paying attention to outside noises, it’s tough to turn away from that stuff. I have to be better — that’s all it comes down to."— Ben Pope (@BenPopeCST) December 28, 2021
Dach also said practices during the pause have been “quick but efficient” and if there’s one thing you can be, you should be efficient:
Kirby Dach says the #Blackhawks coaching staff has done a good job of keeping these practices "short, but high-paced" during this pause.— Joe Brand (@Joe_Brand1) December 28, 2021
In off-ice news, per Rick Westhead, the Blackhawks appear to have settled the lawsuit from John Doe 2, the high school player allegedly assaulted by former Blackhawks video coach Brad Aldrich:
Confirming John Doe 2's lawyer has withdrawn his lawsuit vs Blackhawks, indicating a settlement has been reached.— Rick Westhead (@rwesthead) December 28, 2021
Presumably CHI, which pledged to be a "beacon for professionalism" when settling Kyle Beach's case, demanded a nondisclosure agreement covering both JD2 & his lawyer.
In unrelated but still somewhat related news, the Blackhawks have four prospects at World Juniors, so let’s check in on ... oops:
BREAKING:@usahockey has forfeited their game against @SwissIceHockey due to a a mandated team quarantine following a positive test result of two of its players.— IIHF (@IIHFHockey) December 28, 2021
More at https://t.co/dDceNHvTed#WorldJuniors pic.twitter.com/0WkEUif0m3
Landon Slaggert is an alternate captain for Team USA and Drew Commesso is one of the team’s goaltenders, while Wyatt Kaiser is a key player on the blue line. Slaggert scored against Team Slovakia on Dec. 26.