Chicago Blackhawks to play without a captain this season

CHICAGO (AP) — The Chicago Blackhawks will not have a captain this season.

General manager Kyle Davidson made the announcement on Tuesday. Jonathan Toews captained the team for almost 15 years, but he played his last game with the team in April.

“I think we’ve added a lot of experienced leaders, but we’re looking for the collective to find that leadership capability and not just the players that will end up wearing letters on their sweater,” Davidson said. "We’re looking for everyone to step up as we enter the year.”

Davidson said Chicago will have a group of alternate captains. That group will be announced later in training camp, which begins this week.

The rebuilding Blackhawks are looking for progress after finishing last in the Central Division with a 26-49-7 record. Following the awful season, they won the NHL draft lottery and selected Connor Bedard with the No. 1 overall pick.

Veteran defensemen Seth Jones and Connor Murphy are back, and forwards Taylor Hall, Nick Foligno and Corey Perry were added to the roster in the offseason.

As far as the future of the team's captaincy, Davidson said the Blackhawks will "let the chips fall where they may.”

“Over the next year, we’ll see who emerges, see what the best option is and decide next year if it’s appropriate to name someone," he said. "We’ll take that as it comes.”

All eyes are on Bedard as the Blackhawks head into training camp, but the play of Lukas Reichel also is worth watching. Reichel, who was selected by Chicago with the No. 17 pick in the 2020 draft, had seven goals and eight assists in 23 games last season.

The 21-year-old Reichel has played mostly left wing in the NHL, but Davidson said he will begin camp as a center.

“I'm sure there'll be some growth areas for him down the middle,” Davidson said. “But we wouldn't try it out if we didn't think he'd be a success.”