Kyle Beach was on one of the buses that drove through downtown Chicago to celebrate the 2010 Stanley Cup championship in front of millions of fans -- the Hawks wanted the talented youngster to get a small taste of NHL glory.
Two years later, the former top prospect is still waiting for his first official NHL action while others -- Andrew Shaw, Jimmy Hayes, Brandon Saad, Marcus Kruger, Brandon Pirri -- have passed him by.
"He went from being the dominant scorer in junior hockey, then he comes to the pro level and its not as easy right off the bat, Blackhawks general manager Stan Bowman told Blackhawks.com.
Beach, the 11th overall pick in the first round of the 2008 draft, was once viewed as the next great power forward of the organization. In 2009-10, he scored 52 goals with 34 assists and 186 penalty minutes in 68 games for the WHL's Spokane Chiefs. In 2010-11, he scored 16 goals with 20 assists and 163 penalty minutes in 71 games for the Rockford IceHogs.
Last season, Beach got off to a solid start with five goals and five assists in 19 games before a shoulder injury forced him to miss 57 games.
Still only 22, Beach knows he must be patient for his shot in Chicago. But he also knows next season is crucial for his development.
This year is huge for me; its the last year of my entry level deal, so technically its a contract year, Beach told Blackhawks.com. I still feel that I have a lot to prove, not only to the fans and the organizations, but myself as well. I want to prove to myself that I can play and contribute.