Connor Bedard placed on OR with a fractured jaw

Chicago Blackhawks rookie sensation Connor Bedard has been placed on injured reserve after suffering a fractured jaw from a jarring open-ice hit by New Jersey Devils defenseman Brendan Smith.

The Blackhawks announced the news on their social media accounts Saturday afternoon. They also mentioned Nick Foligno would be joining Bedard on IR with a fractured finger.

The incident occurred midway through the first period of Friday’s game as the 18-year-old Bedard entered the offensive zone. Smith stepped up and delivered a crushing shoulder check that sent Bedard violently crashing to the ice.

Bedard, who leads all rookies with 33 points this season, was visibly shaken as he slowly rose to his feet. Clutching his face, the young phenom skated directly off the ice and did not return.

The hit sparked a series of altercations between the two teams. Several Blackhawks players immediately confronted Smith, while veteran Nick Foligno later fought the defenseman in a prolonged bout. Foligno fractured his finger in the scrap and also landed on injured reserve.

“It was a dirty hit,” Blackhawks forward Boris Katchouk told reporters after the 4-2 loss. “I think everybody saw that.”

Coach Luke Richardson did not speculate on supplemental discipline for Smith. He was more focused on the status of his injured star.

“We’re going to get everybody home and checked out,” Richardson said following the game. “Hopefully we’ll know more tomorrow.” Richardson added Saturday there is no timeline for Bedard’s return.

Richardson also told reporters he was unsure if the hit was dirty.

“I don’t know if it was dirty. I think Connor was reaching for a puck and didn’t see him. … I don’t think he stepped up on him. I just think he kind of stopped and Connor ran headfirst right into him.”

Losing Bedard for any length of time deals a huge blow to the rebuilding Blackhawks. The first overall pick has delivered on lofty expectations so far, dazzling fans with his speed, skill and maturity beyond his years.

His absence leaves a gaping hole in Chicago’s lineup. Bedard’s creativity and playmaking ability are unmatched by his young teammates.

For now, the Blackhawks and their supporters wish Bedard a quick recovery. But a fractured jaw typically requires four-to-six weeks to heal completely. His availability for the All-Star Game and beyond is very much in doubt.