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Blackhawks' Connor Bedard wins 2024 Calder Trophy as NHL rookie of the year

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LAS VEGAS — Chicago Blackhawks forward Connor Bedard has been named the winner of the 2023-24 Calder Trophy, which is annually awarded to the NHL's most outstanding rookie. The news was announced at the NHL Awards in Vegas on Thursday.

"It’s a cool honor, for sure," Bedard said. "There’s a lot of people that go into it. Obviously it’s an individual award but it’s cool to celebrate it almost with your teammates and family, just with the help they’ve put toward it. It’s a cool moment, for sure."

Bedard is the 10th player in Blackhawks history to take home the Calder Trophy, joining Ed Belfour, Cully Dahlstrom, Tony Esposito, Bill Hay, Patrick Kane, Mike Karakas, Steve Larmer, Ed Litzenberger and Artemi Panarin.

Bedard, who was selected by Chicago with the No. 1 overall pick in the 2023 NHL Draft, was the most-hyped draft prospect since Connor McDavid in 2015. He not only lived up to expectations in Year 1 but he exceeded them after leading all rookies in goals (22), assists (39) and points (61) despite missing 14 games with a fractured jaw.

Bedard played the entire season at 18 years old, which made him the 14th-youngest player in NHL history. He had the spotlight on him from Day 1, too.

"I’m just playing hockey," Bedard said. "There’s a lot of stuff that is out of your control and that’s not important to me. I just want to play hockey and be with my teammates, be with your brothers every day chasing a goal. That’s all I really focus on. The other stuff is just what comes with it once you get to a certain level. Not really anything I’ve thought about much."

What he did on the ice was special. But when you factor in the off-ice obligations and all the different directions he was pulled in, it makes Bedard's rookie campaign even more impressive.

"It was incredible," Blackhawks GM Kyle Davidson said of Bedard's rookie season. "The weight that was put on his shoulders, given his profile walking into the league, it's really difficult to handle. I don't think anyone can adequately quantify the degree of difficulty of what he had to deal with off the ice, to then go and perform on the ice. We work with him to make it as seamless as possible. And, for the most part, I think we accomplished that.

"But having said that, he's an 18-year-old player that had to go through more media attention than any player in recent memory, and probably more than any player entering the league ever, just given the social media age and the age that we're in right now. And so I thought it was extremely impressive."

Of the 194 ballots from the members of the Professional Hockey Writers' Association, Bedard received 152 first-place votes, 39 second-place votes, and three third-place votes.

Minnesota Wild defenseman Brock Faber came in second place, and New Jersey Devils defenseman Luke Hughes finished in third, respectively.

With his rookie season officially behind him, Bedard is looking forward to turning the page and blending in as a regular NHL player now.

"There's both, it’s obviously a special year, achieving a lifelong dream of playing in the NHL but then you kind just want to be with the rest of the pack," Bedard said. "I don’t want every time I score a goal or whatever it’s a big deal because I’m the youngest kid or whatever. I think just having that behind you and getting to move forward and kind of look at that and learn. I feel like I’ve learned a lot from last year, so hopefully I can take that into next season."

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