December 17, 2021 | SPORTS | By Quinn Guevara | Illustration by Sierra Romero
The Chicago Blackhawks, bolstered from the offseason, started out rocky. With two massive acquisitions in the forms of goaltender and most recent Vezina winner, Marc-Andre Fleury, and all-star defensemen Seth Jones, the expectations for the season were high.
Two months into the season, however, and the Blackhawks were struggling, which resulted in the firing of head coach Jeremy Colliton in early November. With all of the struggle with the veteran group, General Manager Kyle Davidson thought it was time for a change of pace. Enter Josiah Slavin ’20.
Slavin, a two-year forward for the Colorado College Ice Hockey team, started the year playing for the Rockford Icehogs, the American Hockey League (AHL) affiliate for the Blackhawks. It was there he found out he was getting the big call up to the NHL.
“I was actually painting my condo and I got a call from the GM in Rockford, and he said that I was getting called up to the Chicago Blackhawks,” Slavin said. “It was one of those moments where you’re pretty speechless because you’re just so excited.”
One thing that Slavin did not need to wait for in his National Hockey League (NHL) career was to play against the super stars of the league. His first game was in the nation’s capital, playing against the Washington Capitals, led by one of the league’s best, Alex Ovechkin. Ovechkin is one of the league’s older players, but still one of the best — he is currently fourth all time in career NHL goals.
Along with Ovechkin, Slavin would have to skate on the ice with the likes of NHL all-star John Carlson and famously talented right winger Tom Wilson. Slavin was not worried about that when he put on his number 36 Blackhawks jersey for the first time and headed out for the solo lap to start the warm-ups, a tradition for players who are making their NHL debut.
“The only thing going through my head on my rookie lap was don’t fall,” Slavin said.
Slavin posted an impressive box score during his debut. He took three shots in the first period and went 50% on face-offs. The most impressive stat, however, was posting his first career point in the NHL, recording the primary assist to Seth Jones to tie the game at three around 12 minutes into the third period.
“Everyone was really excited for me and congratulating me. It was a super special moment,” Slavin said .
He received an exceptional reaction from his new teammates. He was able to get the puck into the zone, circle around the defense avoiding pressure, and set up a long wrist shot for Jones in the high slot for the goal.
The Blackhawks would eventually go on to win the game in a shootout, with impressive saves from Fleury and a few pipes hit along the way.
Since his debut, Slavin has played in every Blackhawks game, averaging roughly 12 minutes of ice time. And although Chicago’s isn’t an elite NHL team just yet, they have been able to split points with teams through ties.
With Slavin still getting his feet under him, it might only be a matter of time until the Chicago Blackhawks are able to string together some win streaks and move up in the standings in the Central Division.