DeBrincat, who led the Blackhawks with 28 goals and dished out 24 assists in his rookie season, will have a big spotlight on him when the regular season begins for the team, and he’s ready for the challenge.
“It’s definitely different,” he said. “It was low-key coming in as a rookie, and there weren’t many expectations for me. Now the expectations are there, but those aren’t something I’m looking at. I’m looking to improve in any way I can and just be a better player overall.”
Expectations will be even higher for the star forward after a season that saw the Blackhawks miss the playoffs for the first time in a decade, but he’s making sure that he stays focused on the immediate task at hand: getting the Blackhawks back to the postseason.
“You just kind of take it in stride,” he said. “There’s a lot of guys who have had success in their career, and you can’t let it get to your head. You just have to keep competing and getting better and just improving every day.”
To prepare for his sophomore season, he’s been doing a lot of off-ice work to improve his overall game, and he’s been playing in the Chicago Pro Hockey League to get back in game shape.
“I’m just trying to get better all-around. I’m trying to get my speed up and get stronger,” he said. “(The CPHL) is more game-like. I’m just trying to get back in game situations, because it’s definitely fun to play in that league.”
Before the rigors of the regular season get underway, DeBrincat is simply excited to get back in front of the team’s fans, and to use their optimism to fuel himself.
“I’m really excited. It’s always fun to see the fans and have them cheering for you,” he said. “It’s a great time, and last year was a lot of fun, so I’m thinking this year could be even better.”