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Posts Tagged ‘Chicago Blackhawks’

The 2013 Chicago Blackhawks Live Chicago Tough — And Earn A Stanley Cup!

Posted by sportsmaven on June 24, 2013

We are Chicago….we are not known for our championships from our major professional sports teams. We have lost more than we won, that is if we even make the playoffs, which we typically don’t. A Chicago sports fan is a breed accustomed to disappointment and despair and wait until next years. It is nights like tonight that Chicago fans appreciate and love more than any other sports fans in any other city in the world. Tonight, our Chicago Blackhawks completed the fan’s dream — bringing a championship home to the City of Chicago.

A Chicago sports fan is personified by Blackhawks F Andrew Shaw. In tonight’s Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Finals, Shaw took a puck to the face, appeared to be knocked out cold on the ice. Yet he stood up, got his stitches in his cheek and his eye. Bleeding throughout the game, he just kept coming and coming. Win or lose, he was going all out. He was a warrior tonight, wearing the pride of Chicago on his bloody sweater. If the Bruins rallied around Boston Strong, the Blackhawks and all sports fans were Chicago Tough. It describes our fans, our athletes, and the persona of a city that leaves it all on the table, ice, court or field.  That’s how we roll, win or lose.

Tonight, we in Chicago can go to bed, awake in the morning and call ourselves champions along with our beloved Blackhawks. Win or lose, we would still be Chicago Tough. Put an asterisk on our season or leave it off.  Either way, we are tough and can roll with it.  Tonight, the Cup comes back home to Chicago.  And I’m glad to be part of it in any meaningful way.

Posted in Blackhawks, Chicago Blackhawks | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

The Chicago Blackhawks Are Now Scotty Bowman’s Team

Posted by sportsmaven on September 16, 2009

At the beginning of the week, the Chicago Blackhawks opened their fall training camp with some new faces in key places.  The most prominent new face is that of newly installed General Manager Stan Bowman.  Behind the scenes, lurking in the shadows is the true architect and face of the organization, the stature of William Scott Bowman, or “Scotty” as he’s affectionately known.  The senior Bowman was hired in July, 2008 as Senior Advisor of Hockey Operations for the Chicago Blackhawks.  Since that day, owner Rocky Wirtz and team president John McDonough have wisely, but not always smoothly, turned the reins of the hockey operations over to the 9-time Stanley Cup champion coach.

Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images North America

Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images North America

The first big move was a somewhat awkward firing of then-Coach Denis Savard and subsequential hiring of current Coach Joel Quenneville just four games into the 2008-2009 season.  It was a move that had to be made, but it certainly wasn’t made with grace nor good timing.  The last move?  The “re-assignment” of former GM Dale Tallon coupled with the promotion of  Stan to General Manager on July 14th, another move that was a correct move to make, but another  plagued with awkwardness and questionable timing.  Bowman has molded this young Blackhawks team much in the same mold as his Stanley Cup winning teams in Detroit, Pittsburgh, and Montreal.  In his brief tenure in Chicago, the elder Bowman has displayed his biggest asset — being able to adapt to the needs of the game today and fit personnel and coaching to those needs.

With his replacement of Tallon with his son, Stan, Bowman has again brought in new wave thinking to an organization that is desperately trying to escape it’s tractor beam-like grip of the glory days of it’s past.  The younger Bowman ushers in a new, modern era in Blackhawks lore, a man whose off-ice managmement, negotiating, and analytic skills more than make up for lack of hockey playing experience. Tallon’s apparent administrative miscues were the final nails in his coffin, closing his tenure as Blackhawks GM.

The elder Bowman has filled in the hockey part of the equation, engineering the signing of  RW Marian Hossa to a 12-year free agent deal, as well as the signings of C Tomas Kopecky from the Detroit Red Wings and C John Madden from the New Jersey Devils.  Bowman has worked to install his winning philosophy of big, skilled two-way players that can stretch the ice and play his aggressive, pounding style of play and infusing the talent base with Stanley Cup winning players to round out the up and coming Blackhawks team.

As the Blackhawks finish day 3 of training camp, the team carries the stamp and personal marks of Scotty Bowman, from top to bottom.  Wirtz, McDonough and Bowman have shown that throughout the awkwardness of their moves, they are indeed dedicated and focused on bringing a Stanley Cup Championship to Chicago as soon as humanly possible.  By hiring a 9-time Stanley Cup winning coach to architect that championship, the Blackhawks mean business.  If Bowman is half as good an architect as he is a coach, the Chicago Blackhawks are in for a Stanley Cup type treat.

Posted in Chicago Blackhawks | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments »

Did Chicago Blackhawks Give Dale Tallon A Raw Deal?

Posted by sportsmaven on July 15, 2009

The actual move was shockingly abrupt.  Not a hint was stirring for a mid-summer change.  But then it happened, swiftly and decisively.  The move left no doubt about who is in control of this Original Six franchise.  But as alarmingly quickly the Dale Tallon “re-assignment” has happened, this move was in the works the day the Chicago Blackhawks hired Scotty Bowman as Senior Advisor of Hockey Operations.  Bowman’s son, Stan has been an assistant to the GM for the Blackhawks for the past 3 years and seemed heir apparent to the Blackhawks GM job.  With Scotty in the fold, it marked a changing of the guard on the hockey operations side of the business and it started the clock ticking on GM Dale Tallon’s tenure in the organizational hierarchy.  Some believe the firing was undeserved.  It may be a sign of how the Blackhawks will now conduct business in their focused quest for a Stanley Cup Championship.

(AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)

(AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)

Whatever is thought of the Tallon replacement, it definitely came across as Blackhawks President John McDonough further stamping his imprint on the organization.  McDonough certainly has earned the right to make the changes he felt necessary to continue the impressive ascent of an Original Six franchise that was in complete disarray prior to his arrival.  McDonough skillfully danced around tough questions regarding the change in management, citing differing approaches and the botched contract paperwork for the 8 Blackhawk free-agents as impetus for the change.  Like any other GM, Tallon did some good things and not so good things.  Both the Chicago Sun-Times and the Chicago Tribune point out Tallon’s good and bad moves as a means to evaluating his effectiveness as Blackhawks GM.

Did the Chicago Blackhawks give Dale Tallon a raw deal with his re-assignment? I don’t think the move was surprising, as the writing was on the wall for the past season when the senior Bowman entered the fold.  Was the timing suspect?  Potentially, it was, given the move was made in advance of the Chicago Blackhawks Fan Convention, which begins this Friday.  That should give fans fuel to continue questioning the move for the remainder of the summer.  The paperwork snafu was the final straw, providing the perfect opportunity to make that change now heading off  a more potentially messy divorce closer to the beginning of the upcoming hockey season.

Along with the manner in which former Blackhawk great and coach Denis Savard was summarily dismissed at the beginning of last season, it seems that the Blackhawks may be perceived as insensitive.  The fact that both Savard and Tallon were offered and accepted other positions within the organization softens the blows tremendously and proves that the organization has made inroads with keeping former key players in their fold in their quest to win a Stanley Cup.

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Do The Chicago Blackhawks Keep Both Khabibulin And Huet?

Posted by sportsmaven on February 9, 2009

The most pressing question that the Chicago Blackhawks face in the near short term is whether to keep a pair of goalies, mainly Nikolai Khabibulin and Cristobal Huet.  The goalie position for the Blackhawks has been an ongoing sticky issue since Huet was signed as a free agent in the off-season.  Many thought the signing was the end of the line for Khabibulin in Chicago.  The Blackhawks were close to the salary cap and had over 20% of their budget wrapped up in goaltenders.

Chicago Blackhawks goalie Nikolai Khabibulin (AP Photo/Chris Carlson)

Chicago Blackhawks goalie Nikolai Khabibulin (AP Photo/Chris Carlson)

I believe the Blackhawks intention was to trade Khabibulin before the season began, but there were no takers and the Hawks were not going to give Khabibulin away just to get rid of him.  The pre-season and early regular season was a showcase for Khabibulin and he did not disappoint.  Khabibulin was incredible in comparison to the last 3 previous lackluster seasons , starting out hot, mixing in the occasional cool game.  He had a chip on his shoulder and something to prove.  He was not going to go down without a fight.

Huet, on the other hand, started out a bit slower, with the team winning only 3 of his 10 games in goal.  Huet gave up 6 goals to the San Jose Sharks on 11/26 in a loss.  Huet spent the bulk of the early season on the bench watching Khabibulin.  In December, Huet made the most of his playing time, at one stretch, winning 7 of 9 games to close the calendar year on a hot streak, but that ended abruptly in the Blackhawks 6-4 loss to the Detroit Red Wings in the New Year’s Day 2009 NHL Winter Classic.

Blackhawks Coach Joel Quenneville has been playing the hot hand in goal and that strategy seems to be working well for a very young team that is navigating it’s way through the unfamiliar waters of competing for a playoff spot in a tough NHL Western Conference.

The questions of late have focused on the possible trade intentions of Blackhawks GM Dale Tallon and the rapidly approaching March 4th NHL trade deadline.  Tallon wanted to move Khabibulin since the pre-season, but at this point,  does he look to move Khabibulin again?  With the way the Blackhawks have been playing, the last thing Tallon wants to do is upset the delicate balance of a team that is steaming towards what could be the second post-season appearance since 1997-98 season. Khabibulin can ride a playoff hot streak about as good as anyone out there and veteran goaltending is a huge plus for going deep in the playoffs.

Look for Tallon to make a trade elsewhere, maybe picking up a veteran scorer or a second line center, as the Blackhawks start focusing in on moving to the third seed in the NHL Western Conference playoff race.

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Top 10 Moments In Chicago Sports In 2008

Posted by sportsmaven on January 17, 2009

The new year has already started and amidst the resolutions, fresh starts, diets, and new beginnings comes the ever reverent look back at the year that has passed.  The year 2008 was a banner year for Chicago sports, as three teams won their prospective division titles, and one, the Chicago Wolves won a championship.  There was good, bad, ugly, and everything in between for Chicago sports fans.  So, lets take a look back on the Top 10 Moments in Chicago Sports in 2008 (in no particular order):
Bears use goal line stand to beat the Eagles 24-20

Bears use goal line stand to beat the Eagles 24-20

Bears goal line stand against the Philadelphia Eagles in Week 4 — The Chicago Bears were leading the Philadelphia Eagles 24-20, Eagles had first and goal from the Bears 4, 5:40 left in the game.  Eagles run RB Cornell Buckhalter off right tackle for 3 yards.  Second and goal was a handoff to FB Tony Hunt for no gain.  Third down was back to Buckhalter to the right for no gain.  Eagles call a time out and decide to go for it on 4th down.   Buckhalter again off left tackle, this time, stood up by RE Alex Brown of the Bears for no gain.  Game over.  Bears win.

Zambrano hurls a no-hitter.

Zambrano hurls a no-hitter.

Cubs RHP Carlos Zambrano throws no-hitter against the Houston Astros on Sept. 14th —  The Chicago Cubs and Houston Astros waited two long days to find out where they would be playing their key late season series against each other.  Houston was being devestated by Hurricane Ike and MLB moved the Astros to “neutral” Miller Park in Milwaukee to face the Cubs.  Zambrano brought his “A” game with him to “Wrigley North”, shutting down the powerful Astros lineup, striking out CF Darrin Erstad swinging for the last out of the first Cubs no-hitter in 36 years.

Chicago Cubs Win 2008 NL Central Division

Chicago Cubs Win 2008 NL Central Division

Cubs win back to back NL Central Division titles — The Cubs began the 2008 season with one of it’s goals to win the 2008 NL Central Division title, as well as seeking their first World Series appearance since 1945 and first World Championship since 1908.  Alas, the Cubs could only slay one 100 year drought, as they won an NL-best 97 games en route to the 2008 NL Central Division title for their  first back to back division titles since 1908.  A quick sweep in the NL Divisional Series by the hands of the Los Angeles Dodgers dimmed what was to that point, a most magical season for the North Siders.

chicago white sox win 2008 al central division title

chicago white sox win 2008 al central division title

White Sox win 3 elimination games in a row to win the AL Central title — The Chicago White Sox looked dead in the water, losing  4 of their final 5 games to the Minnesota Twins and Cleveland Indians, coughing up a 2.5 game division lead and falling 1/2 game behind the Twins with one game to play.  The final game of the Cleveland series and the regular season was a must win game with Mark Buehrle on the bump, the Sox beat the Indians to force the Monday afternoon post-season makeup game against the Detroit Tigers.  The Sox win the makeup game against the Tigers, forcing a one game playoff game against the Twins for the AL Division title, this time, in Chicago.   The Sox, behind a masterpiece by LHP John Danks, beat the Twins 1-0 and claim the AL Central Division title, winning three elimination games in a row.

derrick rose drafted #1 by chicago bulls

derrick rose drafted #1 by chicago bulls

Chicago Bulls win the 1st pick in the NBA Draft and the right to select PG Derrick Rose Chicago Bulls GM John Paxson had to work wonders to undo all the bad karma and decision-making by Bulls brass in the post-Michael Jordan/Phil Jackson era, but by sheer luck,  one of those bouncing ping-pong ball went red, and the Bulls, with a x% chance, landed the #1 pick in the 2008 NBA draft.  Around the same time, a young freshman PG from Chicago was leading his one-loss  Memphis Tigers team to the 2008 National Championship game against the Kansas Jayhawks.  The Jayhawks win the title, the young freshman forgoes his eligibility and declares eligible for the NBA Draft and the prodigal son returns a hero.

The City of Chicago becomes a finalist for host city for the 2016 Olympic Summer Games — Chicago survived the US bid process to emerge as the US entry for host of the 2016 Olympics.  Election Night provided the world a glimpse of what Chicago 2016 could be as Grant Park served as the world’s stage for President-Elect Barack Obama’s election night speech.  Chicago is President Obama’s hometown and can be in prime position to be named 2016 host, but it can’t rest on that momentum as concerns about finances, transportation infrastructure, and sports facilities still shroud Chicago’s Olympic bid chances.

Youngsters lead the resurgence of the Chicago Blackhawks

Youngsters lead the resurgence of the Chicago Blackhawks

The arrival of a young and resurgent Chicago Blackhawks hockey team, who finished  the 2007-08 season very strong and opened the 2008-09 season even stronger — the Chicago Blackhawks under owner Bill Wirtz became the city’s red headed stepchild of Chicago professional sports.  Even the minor league AHL hockey team, the Chicago Wolves, were outdrawing the Hawks in attendance.  Things couldn’t have been any lower, and then, Bill Wirtz died.  Bill’s son Rocky took the team over and his first move as team owner was to steal marketing genius John McDonough away from the Cubs, hiring McDonough as his new team president.  A change in coaches (Joel Quenneville in, Denis Savard out), a #1, and #3  draft pick later, youngsters C Jonathan Toews and RW Patrick Kane lead a marketing and on-ice resurgence of the Chicago Blackhawks.  High point to date, a team best 9 game winning streak leading into the 2009 Winter Classic against the Detroit Red Wings.  The game resulted in a loss for the Blackhawks in the standings, but was a HUGE win for the Hawks in prestige and heritage.  A vintage Original Six team is reborn.

Chicago Bears Matt Forte leads Bears ground attack

Chicago Bears Matt Forte leads Bears ground attack

Bears hammer Indianapolis Colts on national TV in the season opener, marking the coming out party for Bears RB Matt Forte and ruining the home opening of the Colts new Lucas Oil Stadium — The Chicago Bears were playing on national television.  They were also playing the mighty Indianapolis Colts on the road in the Colts brand spanking new stadium.  The Bears have traditionally been nothing short of horrible in nationally televised night games and this was Sunday Night Football on NBC.  And QB Peyton Manning, coming off a knee injury, was planning on starting this game. The Bears were doomed, but fate forgot to mention that to this Bears team, lead by a resurgent defense and the nimble running of rookie RB Matt Forte, the only Bear to eclipse 100 yards rushing in his first ever game (123 yards), the Bears down the mighty Colts 29-13.

QB Juice Williams leads Illinois to 2008 Rose Bowl

QB Juice Williams leads Illinois to 2008 Rose Bowl

The University of Illinois football team plays in it’s first Rose Bowl since 1984 — In 2001, the University of Illinois football program was reaching it’s pinnacle capped by a Big Ten Conference Championship and an appearance in the 2002 Sugar Bowl in New Orleans.  Two short years later, the Illini hit rock bottom, going 1-11, eventually firing coach Ron Turner and hiring master recruiter Ron Zook as his replacement.  In year 3 of the rebuilding process, the Illini found themselves with a 9-4 record, stunning #1 Ohio State on the road in a 28-21 victory that propelled the team to it’s first Rose Bowl in 24 years.

Chicago Wolves win the 2008 Calder Cup Championship

Chicago Wolves win the 2008 Calder Cup Championship

Chicago Wolves win the 2008 Calder Cup Championship, bringing a hockey title back to Chicago — The Chicago Wolves AHL hockey team beats the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins 5-2 bringing the Calder Cup back to Chicago.  It is the 4th title for the Wolves in their 14-year history.  Soon after, Wolves Coach John Anderson is promoted to coach the parent team, the NHL’s Atlanta Thrashers. The Wolves dip into a famous Chicago hockey family, tapping Don Granato as their new head coach.

Posted in Chicago Bears, Chicago Blackhawks, Chicago Bulls, Chicago Cubs, Chicago White Sox, Fighting Illini | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »