Connor Bedard injury after hit from Brendan Smith
(Screenshot/ NBC Sports Chicago)

Chicago Blackhawks phenom Connor Bedard was forced to exit Friday’s game against the New Jersey Devils after sustaining an apparent head injury on a controversial hit from Devils defenseman Brendan Smith.

The incident occurred midway through the first period as Bedard entered the offensive zone on the power play.

Smith stepped up and delivered a crushing open-ice check that sent Bedard crashing violently to the ice. Bedard appeared shaken up as he slowly got to his feet and skated off the ice, heading directly to the locker room with his glove covering his face.


Many fans are calling the Smith hit a “Welcome to the NHL” moment for the youngster Bedard. There was no penalty called on the play.

The hit sparked an immediate scrum as Blackhawks players took exception to the force of Smith’s check on their young star. Nick Foligno tangled with Smith, receiving a double minor for roughing while Smith got a single minor.

The Blackhawks announced shortly afterward that Bedard will not return to the game. His status going forward remains uncertain pending further evaluation.

The 18-year-old Bedard has been a revelation for Chicago this season, leading all rookies with 15 goals and 33 points through 37 games. Just yesterday, he was named to his first NHL All-Star Game, making him the youngest All-Star in league history.

Losing Bedard for any length of time would be a massive blow for the rebuilding Blackhawks. The first overall pick from the 2023 draft has lived up to the hype with his dazzling offensive skills and highlight-reel goals.

While the Blackhawks are leading 1-0 after the first intermission, the bigger concern is the health of their young franchise cornerstone.

The team and its fans will anxiously await news on the severity of Bedard’s injury.