Connor Bedard

Blackhawks lock the rink, hide Connor Bedard's stick to try to keep him from practicing: report

Bedard always responds the same way when he's interrupted during his solo practice time: "I'm working"

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Everyone who's a fan of Connor Bedard knows he's a hockey junkie.

According to a recent story from ESPN's Emily Kaplan, he rushes home sometimes after Blackhawks games to catch his former team --- the WHL's Regina Pats --- playing their next game.

But not only does Bedard watch a lot of hockey, he plays a LOT of hockey.

Frequently, team staffers attempt to pull him off the ice after practice. Whether it's for media obligations, a Zamboni on the way, or something else --- according to Kaplan --- he always responds: "I'm working."

Bedard tries to stay on the ice for as long as he can. He also tries to get back in when they're done. General manager Kyle Davidson and head coach Luke Richardson have both taken their cracks at trying to get him to rest, according to the story.

"The Blackhawks have a hockey shooting range at their practice facility, which they sometimes rent out for birthday parties," Kaplan wrote. "Bedard is in there so much, the team simply refers to it as 'Connor's room.' Davidson joked he would need to lock it to keep him out. It was a bit of fun, until Davidson got a text one Sunday while watching NFL games on his couch. Bedard wanted to know why the room was locked, and if Davidson did it intentionally. The innocent error was duly fixed.

"... On one scheduled optional day, Bedard wanted to skate. Richardson thought Bedard needed rest, so he had the equipment staff hide Bedard's sticks in the coaches' room. Bedard is especially particular about his stick; his Sherwood features a 70 flex, its whippiness helps his signature release. 'So he has a choice to make,' Richardson said. 'Does he get out there with someone else's stick?'"

The work has paid off for Bedard, despite the team's best efforts to keep him off the rink. He leads all rookies with 58 points this season, despite missing 14 games with a broken jaw. It would be shocking if Bedard didn't win the league's Calder Trophy, which is presented to the NHL's Rookie of the Year.

According to Kaplan, Bedard was insatiable during his time off the rink while healing his broken jaw. He incessantly asked Davidson if he could see the doctor, hoping to see improvement in his injury.

Bedard convinced the training staff to let him skate one week after surgery. And when push came to shove towards the end of his recovery, he met with both Davidson and Richardson to try and convince them to play their next game against Sidney Crosby and the Penguins.

According to Kaplan, they compromised. They let him skate at the morning skate to see how he felt before making a decision. But for the Blackhawks' top brass, that's wishful thinking.

"Once we gave that green light," Davidson said, "there was a zero percent chance Bedard wasn't going to play that night."

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