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Injury return in sight for Chicago Blackhawks’ Connor Bedard? ‘He’s got to go through this process.’

Connor Bedard wore the same green jersey, participated in the same non-contact drills and sported the same face shield.

For Bedard, the only major difference Monday from previous Chicago Blackhawks practices was time.

He’s a week away from being evaluated to make contact for the first time since undergoing surgery Jan. 8 to repair a fractured jaw suffered three days earlier in a collision with the New Jersey Devils’ Brendan Smith.

Bedard has been expected to miss six to eight weeks, and his recovery has been on track.

Coach Luke Richardson said that, to his knowledge, doctors skipped a checkup Monday because they felt it wasn’t needed.

“Maybe later in the week or early next week is probably when they’re targeting for hopefully the last one,” Richardson said Monday after practice at Fifth Third Arena. “They just said it was kind of useless to take another image with radiation. Like, why bother? Everything was on pace and it looks to be on the same timeline that they thought.”

However, Richardson ruled out Bedard taking contact in practice for the rest of this week.

“So he’ll need a few practices, and once he gets released from that, then (he’ll) be ready to go,” Richardson said.

That would seem to rule out Bedard traveling for a Feb. 19 game against the Carolina Hurricanes, a heavy, physical team.

The Hawks then host the Philadelphia Flyers (Feb. 21), Winnipeg Jets (Feb. 23) and Detroit Red Wings (Feb. 25), though given the timeline, the Red Wings game seems to be the most realistic for Bedard to return.

“We’re hoping sometime in that time frame,” Richardson said. “So that would be exciting. Knowing him he’ll probably try and get back before (then), which would be great. But we’re just going to leave it as is, in the doctors’ hands, till next Monday.”

Richardson, who once joked about paying Zamboni drivers to shoo Bedard off the practice ice, said he senses Bedard showing more patience with his recovery — perhaps now that the end is in sight.

“I haven’t had to talk about that (with him),” Richardson said. “I think in the beginning, his first time probably going through this process, he just wanted to play. I think that was just hard for him to accept at the beginning, but he’s been great lately. He’s calmed down and realized that he’s got to go through this process.”

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Nick Foligno said Bedard has “to be smart.”

“He’s going to have a long career ahead of him,” Foligno said. “As badly as we all know he wants to play, there’s reasons doctors say the things they say. It’s for your own good, and they’re there to protect us from ourselves a lot of the time.”

Richardson told Bedard to expect a different level of play when he gets back, even from what he experienced before the injury.

“The teams are ramping up, the teams are getting into full swing in that middle part of the season,” he said. “So for a young guy that hasn’t even gone through a full NHL season, he hasn’t even realized that.”

In any event, Bedard will be wearing that face shield once he does return. Richardson wasn’t sure how long he would play with it: “I think until he feels comfortable and the doctors feel comfortable.”