Connor Bedard

Connor Bedard is NHL's 2nd chance after failing to market McDavid

The NHL cannot afford to dim Connor Bedard's star

NBC Universal, Inc.

While the media circus surrounding Connor Bedard may be intense, it's easy to understand why such a rare diamond would have the National Hockey League foaming at the mouth.

As the NHL attempts to reposition itself in the American sports sector, the arrival of Connor Bedard was a golden opportunity to begin branding the sport of hockey as a star-studded affair.

It's a smart move. And no matter how crass it may seem to put an 18-year-old on display like a baby lion at a zoo, it's a necessary strategy to grow the sport. The league failed with Connor McDavid. It cannot afford to fail again.

Thankfully, Bedard is the type so far who can handle the pressure.

The Blackhawks' rookie forward spoke about the incessant media coverage Tuesday on the "What Chaos!" YouTube show.

"I mean, there's interviews and I've been answering questions for years now, so that doesn't bother me too much," Bedard said. But [there are] a couple extra events, for sure. But I'm more grateful. It's kind of the first time in everything and all of this, so I'm having fun with it, but it's definitely a lot of stuff. I think now it'll die down a bit, for sure"

The No. 1 overall pick gave a similar spiel after playing in his first regular season home game at the United Center last month.

"It's been pretty wild," he said. "Ever since before camp-ish, it's been crazy, but it's not something I look at as a negative at all. I'm really grateful to be in the position I am and there's very few people that get that opportunity, get to be as lucky. I'm looking at it like that.

"I'm living out a dream and I feel very fortunate for that. But it is crazy and busy. I'm human too; I can get a little tired. But it's been good and I'm just enjoying it."

Bedard's response to the limelight comes as no surprise. Maturity, work ethic and humble leadership traits are all listed in the scouting report.

Still, the NHL is lucky its crown jewel can take it in stride.

"What Chaos" host DJ Bean asked Bedard what it was like to take the opening faceoff against Sidney Crosby in his nationally televised NHL debut — a moment that so brilliantly, so strategically ushered in a new era of the sport while saluting another star they so miserably failed to market. A moment that drew in a record-breaking 1.43 million viewers waiting to witness history.

"I was just playing hockey," Bedard said.

Good answer. Let the league handle the rest.

Click here to follow the Blackhawks Talk Podcast.

Contact Us