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NHL Notebook: Connor Bedard to return to Blackhawks’ lineup against Penguins, Blue Jackets fire general manager, and more

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Photo credit:David Banks-USA TODAY Sports
Cam Lewis
1 month ago

Connor Bedard to return from injury as Chicago Blackhawks face Pittsburgh Penguins

The NHL’s new young phenom will be back from injury just in time to face Sidney Crosby and the Pittsburgh Penguins on Thursday night in Chicago. The Blackhawks posted a photo of Connor Bedard facing off against Crosby on their social media channels, which indicates the No. 1 overall pick from the 2023 draft is back in the team’s lineup.
The 18-year-old scored 15 goals and 33 points over 39 games for the Blackhawks and was set to become the youngest player ever to play in the NHL All-Star Game butn was sidelined in early January after suffering a broken jaw. The Hawks are currently on a seven-game losing streak and went 3-10-1 in his absence.

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Columbus Blue Jackets fire general manager Jarmo Kekalainen

The Columbus Blue Jackets announced on Thursday afternoon that the team had opted to part ways with general manager Jarmo Kekalainen. The team currently sits dead last in the Metro Division with a 16-26-10 record and are on their way to missing the playoffs for the fourth consecutive season.
Kekalainen was hired by the Blue Jackets in February of 2013 when Scott Howson was fired from his position as the team’s general manager. He became the first-ever person from Finland to be the general manager of an NHL club and saw success early in his tenure, highlighted by a 16-game winning streak in 2016-17 and a first-round upset over the Tampa Bay Lightning in the first round of the 2019 playoffs. Columbus went 410-362-97 in 869 games during his tenure, which was the longest in franchise history.
That win over the Lightning was the first in team history for the Blue Jackets and it unfortunately had some long-term ramifications. Both Artemi Panarin and Sergei Bobrovsky left the team in free agency the following summer and the big additions that Kekalainen has made since, Patrik Laine and Johnny Gaudreau, have fallen well short of expectations. The hiring of Mike Babock ahead of the 2023-24 season also wound up being a complete disaster.
It comes as little surprise the Blue Jackets ultimately chose to move on considering where how poorly things have been going lately, but the timing is somewhat surprising. There are only three weeks left until the trade deadline and the Blue Jackets are expected to be busy as sellers. For now, President of Hockey Operations John Davidson will assume the role of general manager and the team will look for a long-term replacement in the coming months.

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Los Angeles Kings activate forward Viktor Arvidsson from the Long-Term Injures Reserve

The Los Angeles Kings will be getting a boost to their lineup as winger Viktor Arvidsson is set to make his 2023-24 debut after missing the first half of the season with a back injury. The Kings activated Arvidsson from the Long-Term Injured Reserve and he’ll suit up for the team against the New Jersey Devils on Thursdsy.
Arvidsson scored 26 goals and 59 points over 77 games for the Kings in 2022-23, an increase from the 20 goals and 49 points he scored in his first season with the team in 2021-22. According to Daily Faceoff, Arvidsson will draw in on the team’s seclind line with Trevor Moore and Phillip Danault, which will bump Adrian Kempe to the third line with Pierre-Luc Dubois.

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