Blackwell hits jackpot: First hat trick in win over Arizona

Earlier this season, Colin Blackwell admitted he keeps “receipts” on those who doubted he could thrive in the NHL.

Well, he cashed in at the United Center on Sunday, notching his first career hat trick during a 7-4 victory over Arizona.

Blackwell scored at 6:57 of the second period to tie the game 2-2, at 0:33 of the third period to give the Hawks a 5-3 lead and with 2:36 remaining into an empty net to secure the victory.

“I've always kind of been an underdog,” Blackwell said in January. “I've played in a lot of different places and I have a lot to give to teams. There's a lot of people that maybe just think of me as a body or a fourth-line guy or somebody who rotates in and out.

“It was definitely here in the Chicago media (where) I saw all that. It just goes back to not really doing due diligence on a player or a person and realizing what I've been through in order to get here.”

The Hawks also got 2 goals from Connor Bedard — one of which came after a gorgeous toe drag during a 5-on-3 power play — and tallies from Tyler Johnson and Ryan Donato. Seth Jones had 4 assists. Bedard upped his goal total to 19.

Blackwell, a seventh-round pick in 2011 by San Jose, didn't make his NHL debut until 2019 when he was nearly 26. His first true break came with the Rangers in 2020-21 when he scored 12 goals in 47 games.

“I just kept my head down and was waiting for my opportunity and knew it was going to come,” Blackwell said. “Eventually I got a lot of players' and coaches' respect. I started on the fourth line and by the end of the year I was playing with Artemi Panarin.”

Blackwell then went to Seattle in the expansion draft and was traded to Toronto before he inked a two-year deal with the Hawks last season. He scored just 2 goals in 53 games, then had hernia surgery on March 22.

The road back was long and tumultuous and he didn't debut this season until December 19.

“It’s been a long 12 months,” said Blackwell, who now has 8 goals in 35 games. “To be honest with you, that’s in the past. I feel really good right now.”

And that includes emotionally. The last couple of weeks were quite stressful, with Blackwell not sure if he'd be traded to a contender.

“It takes a little bit of an emotional toll just because … it used to be just me,” Blackwell said. “I'd pack a bag and I'd go. But now I have a family, a pregnant wife (and) a dog. …

“I had really good talks with (GM) Kyle (Davidson) and this is where I said I wanted to be and I'm enjoying my role here. I think I mesh really well with some of the young guys. I really am grateful for the opportunity of playing here.”

His teammates love the energy he brings on a nightly basis. And they love his mouth as well — as long as it doesn't go too far and get him off his game.

“It's every night for sure,” said coach Luke Richardson. “(Alex) Vlasic took a high stick in the second period on the head and it might have been accidental, but it was kind of rough. Vlasy was kind of upset and took a run at the guy and came to the bench and said something to the referee.

“The referee came over (and) Blacky blasts him. He said, ‘It was like a baseball bat to his head.’ He gets a little revved up and the ref wasn’t sure where he was coming from.

“But it gives us entertainment. We thought it was pretty funny. He didn’t get in trouble for it. He’s the only one who can get away with it.”

Hawks sign Slaggert

The Blackhawks came to terms with forward Landon Slaggert on a two-year entry-level deal Sunday. It runs through next season and carries a $925,000 cap hit.

Slaggert just completed his fourth season at Notre Dame, scoring 20 goals and notching 11 assists in 36 games. The 21-year-old, who hails from South Bend, Ind., was drafted by the Hawks in the third round in 2020.

Coach Luke Richardson said Slaggert may make his NHL debut Friday against Los Angeles.

Slap shots

Forward Andreas Athanasiou did not play Sunday, but is considered day to day as he attempts to return from a groin injury that has cost him 55 games. … Connor Murphy, who has not played since Jan. 13, is still not skating and remains week to week.

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