The timeline for first-round draft pick Kirby Dach to crack the Blackhawks' roster is yet to be determined. But the 18-year-old Canadian center appears instantly prepared to join his teammates as a vital community representative.
Just three days after being selected as the third overall pick in Friday's NHL draft, Dach engaged awestruck young hockey players Monday morning at the Fifth Third Arena practice facility.
"We are excited to welcome Kirby into the Blackhawks family, especially on the community side," said Annie Camins, Senior Director of Fan Development. "We are excited that he is coming to our Blackhawks Youth Hockey camp to visit our 100 kids here who are going to be big Blackhawks fans, big Kirby fans."
Being a Blackhawks player implicitly means representing the organization well, both on and off the ice. Dach comes ready to serve, no directions necessary.
"I love doing that kind of stuff and giving back," Dach said. "I started a program in Saskatoon to kind of give back to less fortunate kids to develop the game of hockey. So that is something I was taught at a young age...to give back because of the gift that I have. I enjoy doing the community work and I look forward to it."
The Blackhawks organization promotes countless initiatives from youth hockey clinics to reading programs and volunteer efforts.
"The Blackhawks really stress the importance of getting out into the community," Camins said. "Our leadership group with Rocky Wirtz and John McDonough and Jay Blunk really sees the importance of community and having the players get out into the community and be seen. Not just with their hockey helmets on, but what they can do to better the Chicago community and the Chicago West Side in particular where the Fifth Third Arena is. They are good spokespeople for us because they help us with all of our efforts to get more kids to try hockey."
Dach remembers the impact it had on him to meet an NHL player when he was a youngster in Canada.
"Ray Whitney, who won a Stanley Cup with the (Carolina) Hurricanes in '06... he is from my home town (Fort Saskatchewan, Alberta). So I got to meet him and spend a day with the Cup," Dach said. "My dad grew up with another one-- Richard Matvichuk, who was a longtime NHLer, and kind of grew up around him a little bit. So I obviously remember those days when I was a little kid, looking up to them."
Dach seems to have the routine down pat when it comes to spreading Blackhawks good will.
"It's huge to give back. I love to kind of see the smile on kids' faces and their eyes kind of light up when they meet you," he said. "So it's awesome."