Generations collide: Connor Bedard says his big hit on Patrick Kane was ‘just a finishing check’

CHICAGO — Ahead of the first-ever meeting, Connor Bedard spoke of Patrick Kane in reverent terms, saluting his place in Chicago Blackhawks lore as a living legend.

That doesn’t mean Bedard can’t give him a good smack during the game.

And that’s just what he did Sunday during the Hawks’ 3-2 overtime loss to Kane and his new team, the Detroit Red Wings.

Hawks forward Nick Foligno didn’t see it until coaches showed a clip later, but he joked that if he had noticed Bedard hitting Kane in real time, “I would’ve given him a little more props.”

But to Bedard, that hit was just a hit.

“I just finished a check,” Bedard said Wednesday. “I don’t think that’s a big story, really. It obviously ended up being Kane. Just a normal hockey play and ended up being him, I guess.”

Normal? It was a literal clash of eras, the 2007 No. 1 draft pick knocked off his feet by the next-generation phenom, the 2023 No. 1 draft pick.

Can Bedard not see that?

“I get it, for sure,” the 18-year-old said. “I’m just saying from my point of view, it’s just finishing a check. It’s funny it ended up being him, I guess. For us, we don’t think about it like that. But, of course, (people react) with No. 1 picks or whatever and that sort of thing.

The veteran knew what to make of the moment.

Kane quipped after the game, “Got a little physical on me in the corner there. He’s lucky he had the bubble on or I was going after him,” referring to the face shield Bedard wears while his jaw fully heals from surgery.

Bedard appreciated his savvy response — as well as Kane’s game-winning goal in overtime.

“I’m pretty sure he wasn’t too serious,” he said. “It was funny. Like I said before, just a normal play. …

“I noticed he got the last laugh on us, but it was good to kind of hear that, (him) joking about it.”

Here are three more things we learned from Hawks practice.

1. Hawks draw lessons from Chelios Night.

Chris Chelios’ number retirement at the United Center on Sunday still resonated in the locker room on Wednesday.

“It was pretty electric in there,” Bedard said. “Obviously not the way we wanted to end (with a loss), but it was cool with the jersey retirement and Kane coming back, so it was a fun night to be a part of.”

Anthony Beauvillier said, “It was great, the night was awesome, the game, the ceremony before and Patrick’s return, the video he had was unbelievable I think just speaks a lot to the kind of fans we have and the kind of city it is.”

As a defenseman who grew up in Northbrook, Jaycob Megna felt a special connection to the Hawks retiring the number of Chelios, a Chicago native.

“I was super young when he was in Chicago,” Megna said. I saw him a little bit when he was with the Wings, but I knew about him. He was a great player and he played for so long, which you’re fortunate to play at one year or one game in this league, and he did it until he was almost 50 years old.”

Chelios finished his NHL career as a 48-year-old with the Atlanta Thrashers in 2010.

“It was pretty cool to be a part of that ceremony too,” Megna said Tuesday. “He seems like an unbelievable guy. We all got to meet him afterward, which was cool and definitely special, being a hometown kid.”

Not only does Chelios serve as an example of perseverance and hard-nosed hockey for current Hawks, but several guests at his jersey number retirement ceremony are Hawks royalty: Duncan Keith, Brent Seabrook, Patrick Sharp and Marián Hossa — not to mention Kane receiving his own tribute and playing for the Red Wings in that game.

Bedard recognizes that his Hawks are “still pretty early on” in their rebuilding process, “but we want to win and we got to see a lot of the guys in the recent dynasty too obviously. Kane, Seabrook, Keith, Sharp, Hossa, a lot of those guys were there. Seeing them come up … the bond they have.

“You create no better bond (than) when you win together. That’s what we want to do. We want to become a winning team. The end goal is to win a Stanley Cup. We’re working toward that every day.”

2. Revisiting the Kane overtime goal.

Coach Luke Richardson fully acknowledges what the Hawks did wrong during the overtime loss to the Winnipeg Jets on Friday.

“Nick (Foligno) went and he tried to hold onto the puck, and (he) tried to deke through down low. Very low percentage play to try and make something offensive happen.”

Richardson said Foligno should have circled to try to set up a Grade-A chance. He didn’t and lost the puck, and Kyle Connor scored on the other end.

There was no second-guessing against the Red Wings. Seth Jones had two cracks at the game-winner but couldn’t punch it in.

“That was a Grade-A chance for me for Seth in there,” Richardson said. “Could he have given it to (Philipp) Kurashev that opened up for a one-time? Maybe. But he’s right-handed and he’s on his forehand and he’s in the prime scoring area.

“That’s the right decision, to take it to the net and shoot it. Unfortunately, (Kane) was behind the play, and he knew he couldn’t help on defense, so he just hung (back) there hoping that (James Reimer) got the save.

Kane received the puck from fellow ex-Hawk Alex DeBrincat on a breakaway and beat Petr Mrázek a minute and 43 seconds into overtime.

Kane has had a big-moment breakaway at the United Center, just never in an enemy uniform.

“DeBrincat scooped up the puck and went the other way (to Kane),” Richardson said. “So we’ll say, compared to the Winnipeg game, it’s a step in the right direction. We made the right decision shooting in the prime scoring area, but it didn’t work out.”

3. Nikita Zaitsev showing signs of progress.

Zaitsev skated apart from team drills on Tuesday and Wednesday. He’s been out with a right knee injury since Jan. 17, and Louis Crevier was called up from Rockford to take his place.

Still, Richardson couldn’t project a timeline.

“I don’t know how soon that’ll be,” he said. “Pretty extensive leg injury, so he’ll be on his own for a little bit. But it was encouraging that he’s out there skating.”

Same thing for Connor Murphy, who has been out of commission with a groin strain since Jan. 16.

“It was slower than I thought it would be, but that’s the protocol he’s got to take,” Richardson said Tuesday.