‘It seems like it never stops’

Blackhawks’ brutal early-season schedule testing young players: ‘It seems like it never stops’

originally appeared on
NBC Sports Chicago

The Chicago Blackhawks have faced a daunting first month in the 2023-24 season and the challenging schedule doesn’t seem to be letting up.

“It seems like it never stops,” said Blackhawks head coach Luke Richardson with a smile.

There’s a debate about whether the intensity of the early-season schedule is a good or bad thing for the younger players. Does it benefit them by thrusting them into high-stakes matchups right from the start, or could it hinder their development by skipping a “warming-up” period?

“I think it can go either way,” remarked Jason Dickinson. “It depends on how they handle it. If they handle it well and they look like they belong and they look like they’re playing good hockey, then I think it’s extremely beneficial for them to be like: ‘I’ve played these elite teams, I can do it, I’m an NHL player.’

“If they handle it poorly, on the other hand, it’s potentially deflating, they get in their head, they start overthinking, they start trying to do too much or not enough and then it hinders them a little bit. So I think it all depends on — the results obviously matter, but more-so the process that they’re taking in those games.”

The sentiment is echoed by veteran Nick Foligno who sees it as a valuable learning experience and an opportunity to grow.

Richardson acknowledges the challenge but notes the importance of facing these teams early and using it to build consistency within the team.

The Blackhawks’ younger players seem to relish the challenge, seeing it as an opportunity to test themselves and improve against elite competition.

The killer schedule includes formidable opponents – Boston, Vegas, Colorado, Tampa Bay, Florida, New Jersey, and Toronto, making it a relentless test for the Blackhawks.

There are no easy games. And while the younger players in Chicago may not have been perfect, they are showing resiliency and embracing the challenge.

“Every team’s elite in their own sense,” notes Kevin Korchinski. “There are no bad teams in this league. Whether you’re playing the worst statistical team in the league or the best, they’re always going to play their hearts out every game. For me, playing against better players is always better for development.”

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