At twelve he was already there NHL-Ice professional, he was already considered the “future of ice hockey” when he was a teenager. Connor Bedard has been playing in the North American professional NHL league for a few weeks now – and shows that the hype around him was not in vain.
He is only 1.78 meters tall and can therefore go unnoticed in the crowd. But as soon as Connor Bedard steps onto the ice, the 18-year-old stands out Chicago Blackhawks out of here. That skating technique – and especially those hands. His wrist movements are so quick that opponents, even the most experienced NHL pros, don’t know whether he’s going to pass or shoot the puck.
“He’s an incredible talent. It’s fun to train with him and be on the ice with him. So you see how hard he works and why he’s so good.” says Lukas Reichel in an interview with Sportschau. The German international is Bedard’s teammate in Chicago, three years older, and has played almost 50 games in the NHL. It’s usually the newcomer to the league who follows the lead of a pro like Reichel. But in Bedard’s case, nothing is normal.
Compared to Crosby and McDavid at 13
Bedard had just turned twelve when he was home in Vancouver for the first time with NHL players like Mathew Barzal (New York Islanders) and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (Edmonton Oilers) during summer ice training. “I was still the annoying kid back then.”Bedard remembers.
Since I was 14 I trained every day. It was there that Bedard got his first impression of the intensity and speed with which the NHL plays.
Published in November 2018 “Hockey News” an article about him titled: “Meet the Future of Hockey, 13-Year-Old Connor Bedard.” Never before had the renowned specialized magazine portrayed such a young player. Bedard was described as the “next phenomenon” and advisers, it was said, were already “knocking on his door”. And yes, he has been compared to Sidney Crosby and Connor McDavid – welcome to Canada.
With exceptional status in the junior league
Now it must be said that there are countless great talents in the homeland of ice hockey – every year. But this Connor Bedard wasn’t just one of the many talents of that era. No, he was O Talent. By far the best ever – in every year.
And that’s why he was allowed to play in the national junior league at age 15, with an exemption from the Canadian Ice Hockey Association. Such “exceptional status” previously it had only been granted to six other young people. Normally the minimum age for junior leagues is 16 years old.
71 goals, 72 assists in 57 games
Bedard played for them Regina Pats at the Western Hockey League, at 15 years old, sometimes met players who were already 20 years old. Still, he played excellently. Last season he scored 71 goals and prepared a further 72 goals – in just 57 games.
It certainly would have been human if this Connor Bedard had been nervous about all the headlines, the huge media interest or the public attention. If at some point he couldn’t have resisted the pressure of becoming the next Canadian hockey superstar. But the attacker simply finds everything “super cool and very interesting.”
Win the Chicago Lottery
The fact that Bedard was selected first in the talent pool at the end of June was as predictable as FC Bayern Munich’s victory in the German football championship. The Chicago Blackhawks had the first pick out of 32 teams – the equivalent of winning the lottery. Just twelve hours after the draft, the traditional club reported revenue of five million dollars from ticket sales for the new season.
The fact that such talent is now playing for a club as famous as the Blackhawks, in a media market as large as Chicago, is also a victory for the league and the television stations. In the season opener on October 10, the Blackhawks faced the Pittsburgh Penguins about their captain Sidney Crosby.
More symbolic Generational change
The media got excited about a “Sid vs the Kid” duel – and talked about a kind of symbolic generational change. Crosby was considered as exceptional a talent in 2005 as Bedard is now. But Crosby, who beat Pittsburgh three times Stanley Cupvictory and led Canada to Olympic gold twice, is now 36 years old.
Bedard’s debut was not only a success for the rookie, who earned his first NHL point with an assist in the 4-2 victory, but also for “ESPN“. The TV station had an average of 1.43 million viewers. Never before have so many fans watched an “ESPN” game in the NHL points round.
Reichel: “Sometimes I think, ‘poor guy’”
A day later, Bedard scored his first NHL goal in Boston. About 25 American and Canadian media representatives crowded around him in the dressing room. Lukas Reichel looked at everything from a few meters away. “Sometimes I think to myself, ‘poor guy’. Too much press, too many interviews for him. But he’s doing great.”he said.
Connor Bedard has played in 14 games. He surprised and delighted many, he is the top scorer with nine goals and also the team’s top scorer with 13 points. And he is, as people sometimes forget because of his actions, only 18 years old.