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Connor Bedard will return tonight


Connor Bedard is back and ahead of schedule.

The Chicago Blackhawks rookie will play against the Pittsburgh Penguins at the United Center tonight and will be back on the court for the first time since. His jaw was broken on January 5 against the New Jersey Devils.

Bedard, who had surgery on January 8, was initially expected to need surgery. six to eight weeks for his recovery.

That timeline would have him playing against the Carolina Hurricanes on Monday at the earliest, but the team confirmed in a statement Thursday that his return comes four days early.

Bedard has been training for weeks wearing a face shield and non-contact jersey. Players typically participate in at least a few full-contact practices before returning to play, but Bedard did not.

He actually wore a green non-contact jersey until practice on Wednesday, and the Hawks did not hold a morning skate today.

Per typical protocol, reporters were not allowed to talk to Bedard while he was on injured reserve. When Bedard was injured in January, it looked like he was laid off for an extended period of time.

Devils defenseman Brendan Smith caught Bedard unawares and slammed into Bedard with his upper body, while Bedard’s head was slightly lower as he tried to gain control of the puck.

Bedard held his jaw as he slid across the ice.

Hawks came forward later in the game Nick Foligno broke his own finger While fighting Smith for Bedard. Foligno returned after missing seven games, but according to teammates, he was eager to get back on the field as soon as Bedard started skating again.

Coach Luke Richardson said on more than one occasion that it became a constant struggle for coaches to rein him in, but he said Bedard said:calmed down” Lately.

The Hawks sorely missed Bedard, who missed 14 games. Despite his long absence, he continues to lead the Hawks in points (33) and is second in goals (15) behind Jason Dickinson.

His 33 points still top Minnesota Wild defenseman and Calder Trophy contender Brock Faber among rookies. Bedard’s 15 goals is still one point better than the Wild’s Marco Rossi.

Bedard returns to face the opponent with whom he started his career: the Penguins and his childhood idol, Sidney Crosby.

It’s a fitting career start for Bedard.


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