Hawks Insider

Blackhawks' Connor Bedard set to make surprise early return on Thursday vs. Penguins

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Presented by Nationwide Insurance Agent Jeff Vukovich

He's back.

After missing the last 14 games with a fractured jaw, Connor Bedard is scheduled to make his return on Thursday when the Chicago Blackhawks host the Pittsburgh Penguins at the United Center, a source confirmed to NBC Sports Chicago.

Blackhawks head coach Luke Richardson is expected to make the news official during his pregame media availability at 5 p.m. 

It's an earlier return than originally expected for Bedard, who had been in a non-contact jersey to this point. The team didn't hold a morning skate on Thursday, either, so Chicago's rookie phenom is being thrown into the fire.

It sounds like Bedard had an imaging scan on Wednesday morning, and he was hoping to practice with the team later that day. But the Blackhawks probably wanted to be extra cautious about it and kept him in a non-contact jersey, which had always been the plan.

Bedard suffered the injury on Jan. 5 against the New Jersey Devils. He underwent surgery on Jan. 8 and was put on a 6-8-week timeline.

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