Chicago Blackhawks

Blackhawks Notebook: Lukas Reichel Is Back, New Season Ticket Membership Program

Hawks notebook: Reichel is back, new season ticket membership program originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago

For the third time this season, top prospect Lukas Reichel has been recalled by the Blackhawks and deservedly so. He's been one of the best players in the American Hockey League, where he's posted 49 points (21 goals, 28 assists) through 49 games with Rockford.

"He’s going to see some ice time," interim head coach Derek King said. "I think it’s great. They did a great job of being patient with him, like we’ve talked about. Now we’ll give him some reps and see how he is."

It's no surprise that Reichel is back in the NHL because GM Kyle Davidson said after the trade deadline he was going to be back up at some point. The question now is, how long does he stay?

The IceHogs have 11 games left and are in the middle of a playoff push. The Blackhawks have 12 games remaining until their season ends. The organization would love for its prospects to get some postseason experience at the AHL level and every point is crucial for the IceHogs down the stretch.

More notably, if Reichel plays in five more NHL games, the first year of his entry-level contract will be burned. If he doesn't, his entry-level deal will kick in next year.

Now, from Chicago's standpoint, burning the first year shouldn't necessarily be viewed as a negative, because it would actually get Reichel to his second contract quicker — likely a bridge deal at a manageable cap hit. If his entry-level contract begins next season, Reichel would essentially have three full NHL seasons to put together a larger body of work and potentially earn a larger payday for his second contract.

With the Blackhawks in the early stages of a rebuild, they're at least several years away from becoming playoff contenders again, which means what Reichel's second contract looks like is probably more important than maximizing his years on an entry-level contract.

Davidson has said in the past that the Blackhawks aren't going to put a number on how many games Reichel plays in this season. They're simply going to take it day by day.

"The 10 games doesn’t really come into the equation for me," Davidson said on March 21. "I would like to get him some more play at the NHL level, if that should present itself. I think he’s been playing well down in Rockford, just continuing that development process and more exposure to the NHL, more games I think is really beneficial for him. We’ll look to get him up here again at some point."

Where will Reichel play?

When Reichel was first called up in January, it was a no-brainer to put him on a line with Patrick Kane. The two of them like to play with speed and it has the potential to be a long-term partnership.

But because the line of Alex DeBrincat, Kane and Dylan Strome is on fire, the Blackhawks put Reichel on the second line with Kirby Dach and Jonathan Toews during Wednesday's practice. Reichel has been playing center for the last two years but he was originally drafted as a wing, so the transition shouldn't be too significant.

"I think wing you focus more on offense," Reichel said. "Of course, you play defense too, but it's more like you don't have to do that much in the D zone. So I try to focus more on the offensive side."

It's the right move, too, because calling up Reichel just to slot him into a third-line role at center probably wouldn't be putting him in the best position to succeed. Plus, he has zero points in five NHL games, so lessening his defensive responsibilities a bit to allow him to focus on offense could help boost his confidence.

"Reichs, he’s a pretty special player," King said. "Dach has been building up on playing both ends of the rink and then obviously Toews, don’t play 1,000 games by being lucky. That guy's a great hockey player, so I think the three of them can help each other.

"Reichs being on the wing can maybe help his game, not worrying about playing down low with the big guys. ... I like the whole dynamic of all three different types of players and they’ll help each other."

New season ticket membership program

After doing extensive research and listening to feedback from the fans, the Blackhawks introduced on Wednesday a new season ticket membership program for next season. The program is designed to provide the most value and better benefits to fans looking to attend games in the future.

On Wednesday, Blackhawks president of business operations Jaime Faulkner and vice president of revenue Jamie Spencer met with the media to elaborate on some key details. Here are some of the most notable items:

  • 93 percent of seats will not see a price increase; in fact, 84 percent of the seats will decrease in price.
  • There are now twice as many "price zones" than in the past to truly determine the value for each seat. For example, prices will be lower on the east end compared to the west end, where the Blackhawks shoot twice.
  • The memberships will offer better benefits, which include food and beverage, parking discounts, special member events, presale access to new merchandise lines and access to exclusive member-only items, dedicated account representatives and more.
  • Fans will have two ways of selecting their season ticket membership: Either choose your seats within a pre-set slate of games (available in full, half, quarter and mini slates) or build your own slate by choosing 5, 10 or 20 games if the team the Blackhawks play is more important to you than the seat location.
  • There will be more flexibility when it comes to swapping games if you can't attend certain dates.

"We didn't create this, our fans actually created this," Spencer said. "We just listened and tried to deliver against what we heard."

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