6,317 days. That's how long it's been since the Chicago Blackhawks drafted Jonathan Toews. Over 17 years later the team (and the city) have reveled in 3 Stanley Cups, parades, Hall of Fame players, jersey retirements, and memories that will last a lifetime.
Of course, add in the missteps along the way from young players off ice behavior, trades gone awry, and most notably the sexual assault coverups. These are all, and should be, apart of that era of Blackhawks hockey. It is all encompassing after all when looking back.
In terms of today (and tonight's opening game) it is about looking to what "could" be a dominant new era of hockey in the windy city. Connor Bedard is wearing the jersey for the first time in an NHL regular season game. One of the most decorated prospects to ever come up through the junior ranks is now a Chicago Blackhawk.
Aside from Bedard, the excitement lies in players like Lukas Reichel, Kevin Korchinski, Alex Vlasic, and Colton Dach at the forefront of cementing NHL roles. Perhaps next season the likes of Frank Nazar, Oliver Moore, and Nolan Allan will enter the fray as young cornerstone players as well.
Then there is the confidence factor that has most Blackhawks fans (myself included) buoyant about the next 10-15 years. It stems from the way that Danny Wirtz, Jaime Faulkner, Kyle Davidson, and Luke Richardson have handled not only the unpleasant times (sexual assault scandal, Patrick Kane trade), but also their ability to (in very short order) resurrect our prospect pool as well as set up our future with valuable assets to use either in trade or in drafting.
From all angles, this is shaping up to be a team run by true professionals that have identified skill traits in players that are essential to winning hockey in the modern game. This has me excited and ready for them to hit the ice at the United Center.
This team may not be a finsihed product yet, but the future is bright (the envy of most franchises in my opinion) and the new era of Blackhawks hockey officially starts tonight against the Penguins.