Three days after he became the sixth player in franchise history to be taken third overall, the Blackhawks welcomed Kirby Dach to Chicago on Monday for the first time to show him around his new organization. He was given a tour of Fifth Third Arena, the Blackhawks locker room and plans to explore the city over the next few days.
"It's been crazy," Dach said of the last 72 hours. "After hearing my name called, I didn't hear anything or remember anything. I had to watch the video over a couple times to remember what happened, I kind of just blacked out in the moment and enjoyed it. I flew home two days ago and flew here [Sunday] and it's been awesome. The facility here is first class and I can't wait to get started in a couple weeks in [development] camp."
It's an exciting day for the organization and the city of Chicago because the Blackhawks are adding an elite prospect during a time where they're retooling for a chance to win another Stanley Cup.
"This is an important day for us for a couple reasons," GM Stan Bowman said. "I've had a chance to get to know Kirby over the last few months and I think as you guys get a chance to talk to him and hear from him, you're going to find out that he's really committed to being the best he can be and to making the Blackhawks an elite team.
"The other thing is we talk about what makes a player important in today's NHL. People say you've got to have a high skill level and being able to create offense is important. Other people are going to say you look at the way the playoffs were played and skill's great but you've got to have size and competitiveness. So that's the more important attribute. When you look at the game that Kirby brings to Chicago, he's got a little bit of everything. He's got the skill to play with the high-skill players. He can make plays that can wow you. He's also got the competitiveness to show that he wants it more than anyone else. I think we've got a special player here and as you'll see we're excited for what's to come."
Dach, who's a 6-foot-4, 198-pound center, is the kind of player you build around and he's already joining a group that features three-time Stanley Cup champions Patrick Kane, Duncan Keith, Brent Seabrook and Jonathan Toews. He already received phone calls from Kane and Toews welcoming him to the franchise.
"Growing up as a kid in Canada, you're always watching hockey," Dach said. "And when they were winning Stanley Cups all the time in Chicago here — with the three in the six years — Toews and Kane, Keith and Seabrook, were a big part of that. And to be in a dressing room with those guys now is pretty surreal, and those are the moments you dream of as a kid. To have it come true, you have to take a step back and realize that."
While he may have looked up to them as a kid, Dach is now part of the group and wants to play a large role on a team that wins not just one more championship but several.
"Winning to me is everything," Dach said. "There's a saying, 'You gotta hate to lose before you like to win.' And I hate to lose so anything I do I always have to win no matter what it is. It's something that drives me and the ultimate goal in hockey is to win the Stanley Cup and I'm going to work as hard as I can and push myself to every limit to get there because that's what I want to do.
"Obviously Chicago's had a couple runs here in the past where they've been able to do that and I want to be a part of those runs and be a key member of those teams."