Blackhawks prospect Adam Boqvist opens up about his dyslexia

Adam Boqvist, third from left, of Sweden, poses after being selected by the Chicago Blackhawks during the NHL hockey draft in Dallas, Friday, June 22, 2018. (Michael Ainsworth/AP)

Adam Boqvist’s journey to the NHL is going to be arduous, as it would be for any aspiring pro, but the Chicago Blackhawks prospect has already shown a strong mental fortitude that could help him along the way thanks to some adversity he’s dealt with early in life.

Boqvist was diagnosed with dyslexia at age 10 and the Swedish defenceman spoke about it in an interview with ESPN’s Emily Kaplan.

“A lot of people are dyslexic. Some guys might not open up about it because they are embarrassed, but I think it is good to talk about,” Boqvist said. “You need to know that it’s normal and it [does] not get [in the way] of achieving dreams.”

Dyslexia is a learning disability that makes it difficult for an individual to read or interpret words, letters and symbols.

Retired NHLer Brent Sopel struggled with dyslexia growing up. The former Blackhawks defenceman even created charitable organization in 2017 called The Brent Sopel Foundation that aims “to help students with dyslexia fulfill their potential through early detection and intervention,” according a statement on the foundation’s website.

Sopel, who was not diagnosed until after his hockey career ended, thinks young people like Boqvist speaking openly about it will go a long way.

“Finding out at an early age is huge, that’s the whole key, that’s why I have my foundation,” Sopel told Kaplan. “So for a kid like Boqvist who …
one, was diagnosed but, two, is comfortable talking about it – that’s everything. He’s already on a great track.”

Kaplan explained that since Boqvist was diagnosed early in life he was afforded some assistance in school in the form of extra time to complete assignments and CDs he could listen to help him learn. Boqvist, who turned 18 earlier this month, is on track to graduate high school next year.

“We are proud of him for hockey, and also how he [handles] the dyslexia,” Boqvist’s father, Patric, said. “We are very happy he wants to talk about it. We think [it] makes it easier for him.”

Clearly, being dyslexic didn’t impact his ability to thrive playing sports.

Boqvist was selected eighth overall in the 2018 NHL Draft after registering 14 goals and 24 points with Brynäs IF’s junior club in the Swedish SuperElit League this past season. He was the third blueliner off the board behind compatriot Rasmus Dahlin and American Quinn Hughes.

“I like to have the puck on a rush and make a move,” Boqvist said of his style of play. “I like to watch Erik Karlsson, but I try to play like Adam Boqvist.”

The Blackhawks inked Boqvist to a three-year, entry-level contract on July 1 and four days later the player signed with the London Knights where he’ll spend next season developing in the Ontario Hockey League.

His decision to sign with London should not only help him adjust to a North American style of hockey but also help improve his English. Learning a second language would be a daunting challenge for anyone, let alone for a person with dyslexia, but it’s something he has made significant progress on.

“When he went to the combine before the draft, he was so nervous about his English,” Boqvist’s dad added. “When he came home, he was so proud. Then the draft came and we listened to his [interviews in] English and he really has come a long way.”

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