PRAGUE - Training Camp is over and hockey season has begun anew. The Blackhawks made their opening night cuts Tuesday, trimming the roster to 21 players at the tail end of an off day that symbolically, and somewhat literally, served as the buffer between the last three weeks of preseason and the first of 82 games beginning on Friday at Prague's O2 Arena.
"It's a short preseason, but it feels long," head coach Jeremy Colliton said after Wednesday's return to the ice. "You're trying to read the tea leaves - playing lineups that aren't totally complete and guys are rounding themselves into (their) top game condition, so we read a lot into things. We're going to learn way more in the first game than probably we learned in the whole first three weeks of preseason. I'm excited for that and we'll just react accordingly, so that is exciting."
Nearly six months to the day removed from the final game of the 2018-19 season, the offseason has seen the addition of 12 names to the mix of a group that hopes to return to the postseason for the first time since 2017. The nearly week already spent overseas has not only allowed the newcomers to mesh with returners, but to collectively absorb the systems and style of play the 2019-20 Blackhawks will look to impose.
"I think everyone's excited," Dylan Strome said. "I think there's good vibe around here ... I think we're ready for a long season, hopefully a good season and obviously a team where we think we can make the playoffs. Lots of positive things heading into the season and we're ready to go."
"It feels good to be back and get a good practice here, get a feel for the ice, the arena, everything." defenseman Duncan Keith said as the start of his 15th NHL campaign nears. "It's been a lot of travel, but it's been fun. It's been good to get the team together and we're looking forward to continuing to build in practice here and have a good game on Friday."
The Blackhawks and Flyers being the 2019-20 season on Friday at 1 p.m. CT from Prague, Czech Republic as part of the 2019 NHL Global Series. For full coverage, visit Blackhawks.com/Global