Blackhawks notes: Game 82, Gilbert and Notre Dame, and #HumboldtStrong

Here are some quick notes for today, the last day of the 2017-2018 season for the Chicago Blackhawks.

It ends tonight

Well, it has all come down to this.  After a Jekyll-and-Hyde season that was more Mr. Hyde than Dr. Jekyll, the Blackhawks play the last game of the regular season on the road versus the Winnipeg Jets.

This will also mark the last NHL game for Patrick Sharp.  This is game #939 for the 36-year-old forward, who officially announced his retirement after last night’s home finale versus the St. Louis Blues.

The Jets will look to enter the playoffs on a high note.  They have won four straight games before tonight.  The Hawks, in the meantime, will try to end their season on a high note, after last night’s disappointing 4-1 loss to the Blues.  Jonathan Toews, who has missed the last seven games, will likely not play tonight, effectively ending his season.

No matter the outcome, the Blackhawks, who currently have a 33-38-10 record, will end below .500, the first time the Hawks have had a losing record since the 2006-2007 season.  It will also be the first upside down season of head coach Joel Quenneville’s career.

Gilbert, Notre Dame, to play for the Championship

Defenseman Dennis Gilbert and his Notre Dame University Fighting Irish will play for the 2018 NCAA Division I Championship today.  They will play third-seed University of Minnesota-Duluth.

Gilbert is a third round pick by the Chicago Blackhawks during the 2015 NHL Draft. He is a left shot.  In three seasons with the Fighting Irish, Gilbert has put up six goals and forty two assists.  Before he became a defenseman for Notre Dame, Gilbert played a season for the Chicago Steel, putting up four goals and twenty three assists in 59 games.

#HumboldtStrong

Last night, the hockey community as a whole suffered a tremendous tragedy.  A semi crashed into the bus carrying players of the Humboldt Broncos of the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League.  The team was on its way to play game 5 of a semifinal series against the Nipawin Hawks.  Fourteen people, including the team’s captain, 20 year old Logan Schatz, and head coach Darcy Haugan, were among those killed.  Fifteen people were injured and sent to area hospitals

Hockey in itself is a small but tight-knit community.  Most players who have found success in the NHL started on teams like the Broncos.  Before the fame and the glory and the charter plane travel, almost all players in the NHL travelled to their games like the Broncos, or any other minor league team for that matter, on buses.  Apart from the ice, it is in those buses where these young players spend the most time. It is where they bond, form friendships that for the most part last lifetimes, and it is where they collectively dream of one day making it to the NHL. Which is why a tragedy like this reverberates even in the big leagues. 

A GoFundMe account has been set up for the Broncos, to help with the families of the victims.  The link is right here:

https://www.gofundme.com/funds-for-humboldt-broncos

I would like to personally offer my condolonces to the Humboldt Broncos and their families, friends and teammates, old and new.

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