The Blackhawks were decimated with injuries before the 2020-21 season even began but they're still finding ways to pick up points and stay competitive. That's the culture head coach Jeremy Colliton is trying to instill.
If you're a Chicago fan, it's exciting to think about what the Blackhawks may be able to accomplish as a group at full strength given the unexpected early success.
While they're getting more bodies back from the COVID-19 protocol, the Blackhawks are still without several key players. GM Stan Bowman joined the latest Blackhawks Talk Podcast to provide an update on three of them.
Kirby Dach, who underwent right wrist surgery on Dec. 28 and was put on a four-to-five-month timetable, has officially started skating. But he still has many hurdles to overcome before being cleared to play.
"When you watch him skate, you think he could play tomorrow night," Bowman said. "He looks ready to roll, but he's got a ways to go. It's one of those injuries where he's going to look ready to play much earlier than he's ready to play and cleared by the doctors, but that's why you have the doctors there.
"He's a young guy, he might heal quick, but he'll be back on the ice playing for us when he's more than safe to do so and until that time, he'll just be training. But, just talking to Kirby, he's excited to be on the ice and skating. He'll get a lot of work done as he's getting his range of motion back, strength back, he has to let it heal, so he's probably going to have plenty of time to do a lot of extra work ramping up to when he can actually be cleared. But he's probably going to be bugging us saying, "I can play. Let me play." And we're just going to have to wait until the doctors clear him."
Brent Seabrook, who's been out since Day 1 of training camp with a back injury, is skating on and off but it doesn't sound like he's ready to return anytime soon.
"I think he's just working through it," Bowman said. "He had trained really hard over the offseason from the time in the summer until training camp. I know he was working hard, he wanted to get himself back to being ready to play and things were going good and he had a setback and now it's taking some time for him to get himself back into where he can play.
"I don't know where that process is. I know he's not ready to skate with the team now, I don't know when that will happen. I think it's a matter of just letting it play out. He's been around a lot, I've talked to him several times. He's typical Seabs, he's happy to be at the rink, he likes being around the team, so that's all positive. It's just, as far as timing or when he'll be back, I don't really have a feel for that."
And finally, there have been scary rumors swirling on social media about Jonathan Toews' health and Bowman dispelled those.
"His status is the same as it was the last time we spoke of it, but nothing has changed as far as all these crazy things you're hearing or speculating," Bowman said. "That's not the case. But I think the important thing that we've tried to communicate to Jonathan is that just take your time, take care of yourself, when you're ready, you're ready. We'd love to welcome him back whenever that is, but until that happens we're just going to let him ... he's on his own timeline.
"We're not trying to call him daily to ask him how he's feeling, I think it's better to let him ... we know how much he loves being the leader of the team and when he's ready, he's going to be back here. We're not going to have to pull him back. So until that happens, we wish him the best and we know he'll be back when he's ready."