BUFFALO, N.Y. — When the Blackhawks won the 2023 NHL Draft lottery on May 8, clips immediately started going viral of Chicago fans celebrating because it essentially meant they won the Connor Bedard sweepstakes.
Not long after, photos started to emerge of fans ordering custom-made No. 98 Blackhawks jerseys with Bedard's name on the back. Fanatics no longer allows fans to do so for image and likeness purposes, per NHL rules. On June 28 when it's presumably made official, the Blackhawks' team store and Fanatics can begin printing them.
Bedard is honored by the gesture from Blackhawks fans, but felt a little uncomfortable at the thought of it being a done deal, even if we all know it's trending in that direction. He wants to be respectful of the process and enjoy the moment.
"Like I said so many times, we don't know for sure yet anything," Bedard said. "It's cool to see their excitement with getting the first overall pick and stuff, but I'm going to keep saying the same thing and bore you guys a bit: nothing is official until then."
Bedard met with the Blackhawks this week at the NHL Scouting Combine in Buffalo. His meeting lasted 20 minutes — which is the maximum allowed — and he felt his conversations with the front office staff went well.
"I enjoyed that, getting to know them and what not," Bedard said. "It was good, I had fun with it. ... We'll see what happens. If they do select me, that would be a huge honor."