The National Hockey League’s 2017/18 regular season is officially one week old. Five former Black Hawks players have already skated in at least one NHL game this season, and a sixth is active on an NHL roster. A summary of their early-season exploits is below:
Joe Pavelski – San Jose Sharks
(Waterloo: 2002/03 – 03/04)
The San Jose captain notched an assist on opening night during a 5-3 Sharks loss against the Philadelphia Flyers. At the outset of his 12th NHL season, Pavelski has more goals and points in hockey’s top league than any other former Black Hawk. When the Plover, Wisconsin, native scores his fifth goal of the season, it will be the 300th of his NHL career.
Craig Smith – Nashville Predators
(Waterloo: 2006/07 – 08/09)
A power play goal from Smith helped Nashville to their first win of the young season on October 10th. This is the former Wisconsin Badger’s seventh year with the team which drafted him in 2009 following his final season in Waterloo. Like Pavelski, Smith is approaching a milestone goal mark: his next lamp-lighter will be the 100th of his career.
J.T. Brown – Tampa Bay Lightning
(Waterloo: 2008/09 – 09/10)
Brown made his 2017/18 debut on October 7th during Tampa Bay’s 5-4 loss to their in-state rivals, the Florida Panthers. He was on ice for just over six minutes, delivering two hits and blocking one shot. Brown has played in 50 or more regular season games in each of the last four seasons.
Brandon Montour – Anaheim Ducks
(Waterloo: 2013/14 – 14/15)
Last season, Montour opened the schedule with the San Diego Gulls of the American Hockey League before establishing himself at the NHL level near midseason. This year, the dynamic defenseman has appeared in each of Anaheim’s first three games, tallying an assist and a +2 plus/minus figure. He will be seeking to surpass the marks from his rookie season, which included 27 games, two goals, four assists, and a +11 differential.
Ian McCoshen – Florida Panthers
(Waterloo: 2010/11 – 12/13)
Like Montour, McCoshen is opening this season in the NHL after spending much of last year in the AHL. The 31st overall pick in the 2013 NHL Draft has averaged approximately 14 minutes per night during Florida’s first two games, including shifts used as a penalty-killer. McCoshen’s next appearance will equal his total from 2016/17 when he was called up during the closing weeks of the schedule.
Brock Boeser – Vancouver Canucks
With four goals and three assists during five exhibition games, Boeser is primed for his first full NHL season, although he did not take the ice for the Canucks during the first week of the schedule. Fans in the Pacific Northwest are clamoring for him, suggests Jason Botchford of The Province: “People love Brock Boeser. I get it. And so should you…Vancouver’s hockey fans are desperate for something to believe in and Boeser is a product of that. It’s why the backlash to the Boeser news [about being out of the lineup] was universally negative and forceful. People wanted to see the kid play.”
Last season, each of these six former Black Hawks appeared in the NHL as part of a record-setting count of eight alumni in the league. Zach Sanford of the St. Louis Blues is currently on the injured reserve list. Vince Hinostroza is opening the year with the Rockford IceHogs of the AHL after spending much of last season with the Chicago Blackhawks. Several other former Waterloo skaters are currently working under NHL contracts but playing the AHL, including first-year professionals Justin Kloos (Minnesota Wild) and Cal Petersen (L.A. Kings).
In total, former Waterloo Black Hawks have appeared in nearly 4,000 NHL regular season games, collectively recording nearly 700 goals.
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