Blackhawks forward, Gibsonia native plays in Pittsburgh for 1st time
More than three years ago, in Consol Energy Center's first season, an 18-year-old named Brandon Saad sat in Section 110 and marveled at Sidney Crosby's performance during his 2010 scoring binge.
Saad, a Gibsonia native, finally faced Crosby and the Penguins on that ice surface Sunday night. Much has changed since he first stepped foot in his hometown's new arena.
At 21, Saad has won a Stanley Cup and scored 29 goals in his first 120 NHL games. Consol Energy Center was the last NHL arena in which Saad hadn't played.
He was in the starting lineup Sunday.
“I'm really excited,” Saad said before the game. “Being able to come back and play in front of family and friends is something I'm looking forward to.”
He said 40 friends and family members attended the game.
Saad has become an important player for the Blackhawks. He frequently works on all three of Chicago's top lines, kills penalties and has become a legitimate NHL goal scorer in only his second season. He played on a line with star center Jonathan Toews during most of Chicago's 2013 Stanley Cup season.
“He's become quite a hockey player in a very short period of time,” Blackhawks defenseman Brent Seabrook said.
Saad, teammates said, also quickly has become one of the most well liked players in the Blackhawks' locker room.
“He doesn't really say much,” Seabrook said with a laugh, acknowledging that Saad is one of the NHL's quietest men. “But that's OK. He'll still say something here or there to make you laugh. And the thing about him is that he's one heck of a player. He does a lot of different things that help us win.”
Saad admitted he hoped the Penguins would have drafted him in 2011.
Though he said Sunday such a scenario would have been more than acceptable, Saad isn't complaining.
He's enjoying his life in Chicago, living with his brother and playing with the defending champions.
“Who knows how it would have worked out,” Saad said of being drafted by the Penguins. “It would have been nice if it would have been here, but it worked out OK.”
Penguins coach Dan Bylsma not only bypassed Saad in the 2011 NHL Entry Draft but also opted against selecting him for 2014 U.S. Olympic team.
That doesn't mean Bylsma isn't a fan.
Earlier this season, Bylsma named Saad as one of the Americans that will represent the “future core” of American team.
“I monitored him a lot (before the Olympics),” Bylsma said. “There is a lot about his game that's impressive. I like his versatility as a player. I like the speed in which he plays the game.
“I remember watching him their last two games. It reiterated what I saw earlier in the year. He's a big guy who plays with a lot of speed, a lot of power.”
And he almost was a member of the American Olympic team.
“He was a guy who came really close,” Bylsma said.
Saad figures to get more opportunities in the future.
“Great guy, great player,” Seabrook said. “And he keeps getting better and better.”
Josh Yohe is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter @JoshYohe_Trib.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Penguins assistant coach Tocchet wants Letang to shoot more on power play
- Penguins notebook: Team celebrates ‘Hockey Fights Cancer’ event
- Fleury, Penguins too much for Kings
- Penguins look to buck shots, goals trend
- Penguins overcome early deficit with scoring onslaught, beat Devils, 8-3
- Penguins veteran defenseman Scuderi’s game looking up
- Penguins’ defenseman Maatta confident of full recovery
- Starkey: Hockey hypocrites, unite
- Penguins assistant coach Tocchet marvels at Maatta’s demeanor