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Blackhawks purchase IceHogs; Hardman joins team

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The Blackhawks officially purchased their AHL affiliate from the city of Rockford.

Rockford Ice Hogs v Laval Rocket Photo by Minas Panagiotakis/Getty Images

On Wednesday morning, the Blackhawks officially announced that they’ve purchased their AHL affiliate, the IceHogs, from the city of Rockford.

With a reported sale price of $11.8 million, this transaction allows the Blackhawks to become the 21st NHL franchise to own its AHL affiliates. As part of the acquisition, the Blackhawks organization will provide funding for a $23 million renovation of the IceHogs home arena, the BMO Harris Bank Center.

Blackhawks coach Jeremy Colliton, who got his start with the organization as the IceHogs head coach in the 2017-18 campaign, commented on the purchase.

Meanwhile in Chicago, the Blackhawks held an optional practice on Wednesday morning which featured the debut of forward Mike Hardman, who signed a two-year deal with the Blackhawks on March 30. It is unknown when Hardman will make his in-game NHL debut. In 58 games with Boston College, Hardman tallied 22 goals and 22 assists.

Carl Soderberg also attended Wednesday’s optional practice. The 35-year-old center has been a healthy scratch for the last two Blackhawks games. It is a possibility that Soderberg, who will be an unrestricted free agent at the end of the season, will be moved at the trade deadline.

Blackhawks general manager Stan Bowman also provided an update on Alex Nylander, stating that the No. 8 overall pick from the 2016 NHL Draft is still recovering from knee surgery. While still not definite, Bowman said it was unlikely that Nylander will play this season.

While speaking with the media on Tuesday, Colliton also offered some insight on the team’s status regarding COVID-19 vaccinations. Colliton said he’s been vaccinated, as well as some other staff members. While no players have have been vaccinated yet, Colliton made it sound like that’s going to be a priority in the upcoming days and weeks.

The Blackhawks will wrap up a two-game series against the Stars with a 7p.m. puck drop at the United Center on Thursday evening.