Blackhawks: Players are back on the ice but remain cautious

Patrick Kane #88, Chicago Blackhawks (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Patrick Kane #88, Chicago Blackhawks (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images) /

Pictures of Chicago Blackhawks’ players hauling their gear while wearing surgical masks are weird, right?

Then I recognized the players in the images and thought, “the Chicago Blackhawks are BACK!”

At least that’s kind of what raced through my mind when I saw the pictures being tweeted of players carrying hockey sticks and equipment bags on Twitter.

Then I realized that, no, I was just getting ahead of myself. Hockey hasn’t resumed, but perhaps there’s finally a real trickle of momentum heading in that direction.

Or is there?

During the Blackhawks’ first media availability in three months(!), there were a few statements that stood out about play returning. Mark Lazerus and Scott Powers were on duty to cover the team, and Patrick Kane, in particular, was quoted saying,

"“We have [to] be pretty cautious about that,” Kane said Thursday after the NHL and NHLPA agreed on a tentative opening date for formal training camps of July 10. “I know that the NHL is putting out dates and whatnot, but I think as players, nothing has been agreed to yet. I think there’s a long way to go before we reach a certain agreement where we would want to come back and play and feel safe enough — feel like it’s the right deal for us to come back. Obviously, we’re in the process of doing that, and it’s an ongoing process.”"

If nothing has been agreed to yet, then why are the players coming back?

It can’t just be boredom.

There must at least be verbal agreements in place for the players to have started practicing again, even though they haven’t agreed to play games.

Then again, SportsNet’s Elliotte Friedman reported that the league is pushing players to return this week, by June 21st. Friedman says that one of the things that will need to be sorted out are work visas.

This could be huge. Imagine if something goes wrong and a player like Dominik Kubalik can’t play because of a visa issue?

Friends, when a 30-goal scorer has to take a seat in the press box as a tourist, there’s a problem.

Unfortunately, things are so chaotic at the moment, and if league’s top brass haven’t been eating antacids like jellybeans, then they might have the composure of Olympians. It’ll probably all work out, but along with sunny summer weather, there could be some mild indigestion in the forecast.

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Things aren’t so smooth right now, but everything is trending towards play resuming. If the Blackhawks are on the ice again, then we’re one step closer.