Photo: NHL via Getty Images
2020 has been a particularly tough year for almost everyone in the world. Thankfully for most, we are in the final week of the year and sights can begin to turn to a new year. Unfortunately for the Chicago Blackhawks, the year is ending much like the rest of 2020. During the week they lost not one, not two, but three key players to injury or illness.
The team’s bad week began on December 23 when it was announced that forward Alex Nylander underwent knee surgery to repair a torn meniscus that had occurred during the playoffs.
Nylander rested and trained conservatively, but as Blackhawks team physician Dr. Michael Terry said when announcing the news, “Unfortunately, his symptoms came back when he started to skate.” Nylander is expected to be out until mid-April.
Photo: NHL via Getty Images
While Nylander is not one of Chicago’s most significant players, he still contributed 10 goals and 16 assists in 65 games during his first year as an NHL regular, and provided offensive depth.
Nylander, 22, is the younger brother of Toronto Maple Leafs forward, William Nylander, and the son of former Capitals player, Michael Nylander.
Later that same day, the news worsened for the Backhawks. Kirby Dach, one of their most promising young players, was injured in one of the World Junior Championship exhibition games.
Dach collided with Russian forward Ilya Safonov, about eight minutes into the period. He immediately took off his right glove before skating to the bench and on to the locker room. The next day, Dach traveled to Chicago to be evaluated.
Dach ended up getting surgery on December 27 and it was later announced he would be out 4-5 months. If out four months, he could return April 29, with six games remaining in Chicago’s 56-game regular season.
During 2019-20, Dach scored 8 goals and had 15 assists in 64 regular season games and had one goal and five assists during post season.
Already dealing with two forwards out long term due to injury, the Blackhawks were dealt possibly their biggest blow on December 29 when they announced that center Jonathan Toews would miss the Blackhawks’ training camp and there was no time table for his return.
The 32-year-old center said in a statement he’s been experiencing symptoms that have left him feeling “drained and lethargic.”
Toews continued, “I am working with doctors so I can better understand my condition. Until I can get my health back to a place where I feel I can perform at an elite level and help my team, I will not be joining the Blackhawks for training camp. I do not have a timetable for when I will rejoin the team. I am extremely disappointed, but it wouldn’t be fair to myself or my teammates to attempt to play in my current condition.”
Even prior to these recent losses, the Blackhawks’ outlook for the 2020-21 season was grim. Goalie Corey Crawford left in free agency and they had already traded Brandon Saad during the offseason.
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