Can’t wait for NHL-level hockey to start in early October? Have the freedom and ability to take a few days off work and travel to one of Michigan’s higher points? Then, boy (or girl), is there an opportunity for you.
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According to a post from Detroit Red Wings blog Wingin It In Motown (painful to give credit to anyone Wings-related), and confirmed by Detroit’s front office, the Chicago Blackhawks are one of eight teams that will compete in a prospects tournament in mid-September. The five-day event will be held at Centre Ice Arena in Traverse City, Mich. For a point of reference, that complex is just shy of a five-hour drive from the United Center, according to Google Maps.
This will mark the Blackhawks’ first appearance in the event since a three-year run from 1998-2000, according to Wingin It. The Blackhawks are replacing the Buffalo Sabres in the event. This normally wouldn’t be met with much sadness, but with the opportunity to watch Jack Eichel up in smoke as a result, some fans may be disappointed. Wingin It also notes that a whopping 479 players who were previously involved in this tournament, which is going on its 17th year at the Traverse City location, have competed in at least one NHL game.
This tournament will see two divisions of four teams. The Blackhawks have been placed in the Gordie Howe Division along with the Red Wings, Dallas Stars and Carolina Hurricanes. In the Ted Lindsay Division are the Columbus Blue Jackets, Minnesota Wild, New York Rangers and St. Louis Blues. For those of you wondering why the Hurricanes are in the Gordie Howe Division instead of the Blues, your guess is as good as mine.
The Blackhawks will face each of the teams in their division once ahead of crossover championship, third-place, fifth-place and seventh-place games. The goal is to compile the most wins within your division in order to advance to the championship game. Chicago will first face Dallas (think Stephen Johns might be in attendance?) on Friday, Sept. 11, at 7 p.m. That game is followed by contests against Detroit on Sept. 12 at 4 p.m. and against Carolina on Sept. 14 at 6:30 p.m. All of the crossover games will be held on Sept. 15, with the championship game occurring at 7 p.m.
In a nice touch, the tourney-winning team receives what is now known as the Matthew Wuest Memorial Cup. Wuest was best known for his work with CapGeek.com prior to losing a battle with colon cancer in March 2015.
Columbus won this event last year, while Detroit took down its first-ever title in 2013. That’s kind of amazing considering the event is going on its 17th year at this location and the Red Wings have consistently churned out ridiculously good prospects from their system for many years. But that’s why they play the games.
Looking at who might be involved in this tournament for Chicago, we can glance at the 2015 Prospect Camp roster. Pretty much everyone on the roster should be fair game, as the team’s training camp does not open until Sept. 18. Nobody in the Blackhawks’ current prospect pool has participated in this game as a member of the Chicago organization, as a result of the team not being involved in this event since 2000, so there’s not a past roster to compare to.
These games will not be televised, but we’ll try to provide updates on their results when the time comes around. If you are able to attend, ticket information can be found on this site, and we’d be interested in receiving updates from you during the event. Leave a post in the comments section if this winds up applying to you.
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