Kirby Dach on trade from Blackhawks to Canadiens: 'It was a bit shocking'

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Dach on being traded by Hawks: 'It was a bit shocking' originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago

MONTREAL — The Blackhawks had a "monumental" night on Day 1 of the 2022 NHL Draft after trading away All-Star winger Alex DeBrincat to Ottawa in exchange for three draft picks, including the No. 7 overall selection. But that was just the first domino to fall.

Trade discussions involving Kirby Dach began to intensity leading up to Thursday, and hours after the DeBrincat trade was announced, the Blackhawks pulled the trigger on a deal with Montreal that involved the No. 13 overall pick and a third-round selection going to Chicago and Dach heading to the Canadiens. Dach was just as surprised as everyone else when it all went down.

"You kind of hear rumors here and there," Dach said in a video conference call on Friday afternoon. "It's a busy time during the draft. I got the phone call five minutes before it was announced. I was actually on my way into the rink to go skate. It was a bit shocking, but I'm excited to be in Montreal. It's a great city, I loved to play there and I can't wait to have the fans on my side cheering us on."

Dach admittedly summarized his time in Chicago as "full of ups and downs," although some of it was beyond his control. He missed all of training camp his rookie season because of a concussion, and he probably became a full-time NHL player a year too early because of the Blackhawks' urgency to compete for a playoff spot at the time, which didn't do his development any favors.

Kirby Dach's time with Blackhawks was 'full of ups and downs'

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After a breakout postseason in the Edmonton bubble, Dach fractured his right wrist in Team Canada's lone exhibition game at the 2021 IIHF World Junior Championship and was supposed to miss 4-5 months, which was expected to be the entire 2020-21 season. He returned way ahead of schedule because the Blackhawks were, surprisingly, in a playoff push and he desperately wanted to help his team but never got close to resembling the player he was prior to the injury.

Dach has always exuded confidence in himself, but even he acknowledges a change of scenery might not be the worst thing for him.

"I think it'll be good for me to kind of have a fresh start and be the player I know I can be," Dach said. "I feel like I'm pretty offensive and smart with the puck and can make plays but also that reliable two-way centerman that's big and strong down the middle of the ice that skates well and can make plays. I feel like Montreal is a place I can flourish with that."

Dach appears to be in good hands with the Canadiens. Current head coach and Hall of Fame player Martin St. Louis did wonders for Cole Caufield's development last season, and it's easy to see a scenario where St. Louis helps Dach do the same.

While his tenure with the Blackhawks was short-lived, Dach was appreciative of the time he spent there and the things he learned from veterans like Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews.

"I was very thankful for the opportunity I had in Chicago for the past three years to play there," Dach said. "It was a great city and made a lot of connections and friends that I'll have for a lifetime."

Next season was always going to be an important year for Dach's development, no matter what happened this offseason. He was probably expecting to play a significant role on a rebuilding Chicago team and prove that he can be a potential franchise cornerstone.

Kirby Dach ‘excited’ to work with Martin St. Louis in Montreal

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Now, Dach is hoping to do that with a new team while DeBrincat looks to pick up where he left off as well in Ottawa. How quickly things change.

"We knew we were going into a rebuild and stuff like that," Dach said. "They were very open and honest with us about that, and obviously they felt like they needed to go in a different direction with Cat and I. It's a business, there's nothing else to it. You've just got to move on. I got a great opportunity in front of me in Montreal and I'm beyond excited to get things rolling and start a new chapter in my career."

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