No. 1 pick Bedard goes on IR after taking huge hit

Jack Baer

Chicago Blackhawks rookie phenom Connor Bedard landed on injured reserve with a fractured jaw Saturday after taking a massive hit from New Jersey Devils veteran Brendan Smith.

Bedard was leveled midway through the first period at the Prudential Center on Friday and exited the game. Smith’s hit didn’t look dirty, but it did leave Bedard holding his mouth and heading to the dressing room.

The Blackhawks later announced the 18-year-old Bedard would not return to the game, without specifying the injury.

After the game, Blackhawks head coach Luke Richardson said the team would know more about Bedard’s status on Saturday.

“I think he banged his head. I’m not sure if he’s, like — I just got in there now and I haven’t heard anything other than everybody’s coming home tonight.”

When asked if Bedard was in the concussion protocol, Richardson said he hadn’t heard that and, again, would know more Saturday.

Dirty or not, Bedard’s Blackhawks teammates did not take kindly to the hit.

Chicago Blackhawks center Connor Bedard falls to the ice after being checked by New Jersey Devils defenseman Brendan Smith (2) during the first period of an NHL hockey game Friday, Jan. 5, 2024, in Newark, N.J. (AP Photo/Adam Hunger)

Connor Bedard’s injury sparked a few fights in Blackhawks-Devils. (AP Photo/Adam Hunger)

Center Philipp Kurashev immediately confronted Smith on the ice, followed by left wing Nick Foligno. All three players ended up at the bottom of a dogpile behind the net. Smith was later assessed a roughing penalty, while Foligno received two of them.

The continued early in the second period. Clearly not satisfied with their last run-in, Foligno took on Smith in a fight that lasted a good 75 seconds. It wound up being Foligno’s last time on the ice, as the Blackhawks announced he too would not return to the game.

Foligno landed on injured reserve alongside Bedard with a fractured left finger.

All told, it was one of the most contentious games of the season, with 64 penalty minutes combined between the two teams in a 4-2 Devils win. The Blackhawks took the brunt of those minutes with 38.

Just a day earlier, Bedard had been announced as the youngest player to ever be named to the NHL All-Star team, rewarding a season in which the 2023 No. 1 overall pick has lived up to the hype as a generational talent.

The Blackhawks’ next game is scheduled for Sunday at home against the Calgary Flames.