COLUMBUS, Ohio — Brandon Saad scored his 30th goal on Friday night, a pretty nice individual accomplishment for a young player who achieved some great team ones with the Blackhawks.
“It’s been a tough year,” he said. “But to finish off with some good hockey, score some goals and hit that valuable mark, it’s definitely something I’ll remember forever.”
Indeed, this wasn’t an easy year for Saad. He got a six-year, $36-million contract with the Columbus Blue Jackets but the team struggled from the start and never regained its footing. Saad, who played all of his Blackhawks’ years under coach Joel Quenneville, went through two coaches in one season with the Jackets.
And it’ll be tough to see his former Blackhawks teammates head to the playoffs while he, for the first time in his young professional career, will miss them.
“Yeah, it’s tough,” he said prior to seeing the Blackhawks in the regular-season finale for both. “I’ve been playing a lot of hockey lately. It’s different with training, things like that. But it’s my first long summer to relax, recharge the batteries. You always want to be playing — I know I’ll be watching the games. But to have a full summer of training and go into next year, you just try to get better and do what you can.”
Saad said he doesn’t think about what might have been if he and the Blackhawks could have worked out a deal last summer. They didn’t and as he said, “you move on.” He’ll always have friends in that locker room and always have great memories of the two Stanley Cups he won with the Blackhawks.
And yes, he’ll even check in every now and then this postseason to see how they’re doing.
“Right away it’s something to get away from the game and relax and get on vacation, things like that. But it’s definitely checking the scores, seeing toward the end who’s getting down there toward the end,” Saad said of the playoffs. “Seeing the year [the Blackhawks] had, it’s going to be a fun one tonight. But they have bigger and better things ahead of them.”