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FEATURE: Dach Patiently Waiting for NHL Debut

As No. 3 overall pick continues to work back from concussion, he's taking in everything about NHL level

by Chris Kuc @ChrisKuc / Blackhawks.com

Kirby Dach isn't the only one in a holding pattern waiting for his NHL debut.

"As soon as I find out when my first game is, I'm going to call my mom and dad and let them know and I'm sure they'll be on their way out here," Dach said following Thursday's morning skate in preparation for the Blackhawks' home opener against the Sharks at the United Center.

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THE VERDICT: New Scoreboard Takes Game Experience to Next Level

United Center's $14.5 million offseason addition wows during regular season debut

by Bob Verdi / Blackhawks.com

I went to a hockey game Thursday night and a scoreboard broke out.

The Blackhawks misspent four different one-goal leads and dropped their home opener to the San Jose Sharks, 5-4, before 21,455 at the United Center. It was not a defensive gem for either squad, but rather the kind of track meet that finds coaches mulling strange thoughts about their career paths.

Otherwise, the star of the show was the new scoreboard, a stunning addition that got a workout. This amazing structure, hovering above center ice, dispenses puffs of smoke, or fog, whenever the Blackhawks score a goal. That, coupled with a throbbing sound system, offers customers everything they could possibly want, except maybe a beer tap. You might even go two or three hours without checking your phone.

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THE VERDICT: Olczyk Born to Beat the Odds

Former Blackhawk and TV analyst details on- and off-ice battles in new book "Eddie Olczyk: Beating the Odds in Hockey and Life"

by Bob Verdi / Blackhawks.com

To a generation of young fans who don't quite grasp his hair restoration billboards, Eddie Olczyk is the ultimate TV companion. He expertly analyzes the Blackhawks most of the time, with NBC some of the time, deploying humor, candor and an active telestrator. When he freezes the screen, it is an instant tutorial. He was born to do this, except he also did something else.

"Did you ever play?"

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FEATURE: Kubalik Makes NHL Debut in Front of Family, Friends

Numerous family, friends on hand as Dominik Kubalik makes his NHL debut in Prague, 30 miles away from hometown

by Chris Kuc @ChrisKuc / Blackhawks.com

PRAGUE - The nerves kicked in for Dominik Kubalik's parents and brother before they even arrived at O2 Arena in Prague to watch the Blackhawk winger's NHL debut.

Traffic between Kubalik's hometown of Plzen, Czech Republic and Prague was heavy and there was a concern they wouldn't complete the 90 or so kilometer trek in time to see their son and sibling take the ice prior to the Blackhawks season-opening 4-3 loss to the Flyers on Friday as part of the NHL's Global Series.

The three made it - thanks to the driving of Kubalik's brother, Tomas - and they joined seven other family members and three of Dominik's friends who were on hand to watch a dream come true.

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FEATURE: Blackhawks Fans of Europe

Meet just a few of Europe's most dedicated Blackhawks fans, seeing their favorite team in person for the very first time during the 2019 NHL Global Series

by Carter Baum @CarterBaum / Blackhawks.com

PRAGUE - If you're an NHL fan in Central Europe, keeping up with your favorite team is no small task. The games often don't start until 2 a.m. - not to mention the West Coast 4 or 5 a.m. sunrise puck drops - and even then, are rarely televised, resorting to online subscriptions, following along on Twitter or a constant refresh of the online box score. A simple trek to the UC or to the nearest city where Chicago plays one of its annual 41 road games simply isn't an option - at least not without some serious expenditures traveling to another hemisphere half a world away. 

For as much has been made about the Global Series trip for the players themselves, it's a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for the furthest reaches of the Blackhawks fan base.

Throughout the trip, Blackhawks.com has caught up with just a few of those getting to see their favorite team live for the very first time after years of watching and following from abroad. 

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FEATURE: Marian Hossa Adjusting to Post-Playing Life

Former Blackhawk reminisces with former teammates, trainers and staff in Prague

by Chris Kuc @ChrisKuc / Blackhawks.com

PRAGUE - When word got out that Marian Hossa was in a hallway just outside of their dressing room at O2 Arena in Prague, Blackhawks players began to slip away from preparing to practice to greet him.

There were handshakes, hugs and plenty of smiles as Hossa met with Jonathan Toews, Brent Seabrook and Duncan Keith on Thursday before the Blackhawks took the ice on the eve of their 2019-20 season opener against the Flyers as part of the NHL's Global Series. After practice, other players who won one, two or three of the Blackhawks most recent Stanley Cups with Hossa rushed to get dressed so they, too, could reunite with him.

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COLUMN: DeBrincat Defying Doubters to Become Bonafide Star

Once doubted as an NHL talent because of his stature, Alex DeBrincat quickly becoming a face of Chicago's next generation of stars

by Chris Kuc @ChrisKuc / Blackhawks.com

PRAGUE - The doubts about Alex DeBrincat's ability to make a big impact in the NHL always came from those who took a quick glance at his bio, saw his height listed as 5-foot-7 and made the snap judgement that that just wasn't going to fly in today's game.

Surely, despite eye-popping numbers during his junior career, DeBrincat wouldn't be able to navigate his way through the trees of many of the hulking players that occupy the ice these days.

That helps explain why despite putting up monstrous numbers with Erie of the OHL during the 2014-15 and '15-16 seasons, DeBrincat lasted until the second round of the 2016 NHL Draft before the Blackhawks swooped in and selected the Farmington Hills, Mich., native with the 39th overall pick.

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FEATURE: Blackhawks Return to Europe 10 Years Later

Blackhawks veterans hope that the spark behind the team's 2010 success can be replicated 10 years later as Chicago returns to Europe

by Chris Kuc @ChrisKuc / Blackhawks.com

PRAGUE - Quick history lesson: The last time the Blackhawks opened the season in Europe was in 2009. They finished that season hoisting the Stanley Cup for the first time in 49 years.

Ten years later, the Blackhawks are in Europe poised to begin the 2019-20 season in Prague, Czech Republic.

Just saying.

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FEATURE: Gilbert, Wedin Making Most of Extended Camp in Europe

Considered long-shots for the NHL roster coming into Training Camp, Dennis Gilbert and Anton Wedin among the last standing as Blackhawks embark on European trip

by Chris Kuc @ChrisKuc / Blackhawks.com

BERLIN - When the Blackhawks' charter flight crossed the North Atlantic Ocean en route to stops in Berlin and Prague as part of the 2019 NHL Global Series, 27 players were on board.

A maximum of 23 of them can be on the active roster when the '19-20 regular season begins Friday against the Flyers, so it doesn't take a math whiz to see that the numbers won't add up for at least a couple of players who made the trip. A few lingering injuries as well as final battles for jobs have the final roster in flux and that has kept things interesting for two players who have risen above other training camp hopefuls to remain in the mix: forward Anton Wedin and defenseman Dennis Gilbert.

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FEATURE: Blackhawks Bring Big Expectations to Bigger Sheet

Ahead of Sunday's preseason finale in Berlin, Chicago hopes a foreign opponent can serve as motivating test with season opener days away

by Carter Baum @CarterBaum / Blackhawks.com

BERLIN - For much of the opening two weeks of camp, most of Dominik Kubalik's focus has been re-adjusting his game to the smaller North American ice than what he's played on for nearly his whole life, including the last five years in the Czech Republic and Switzerland after two seasons in the OHL as a teen.

But for a couple days, at least, he's back on the larger sheet as the Blackhawks get set to face Eisbären Berlin in their final exhibition game of the 2019 preseason. 

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