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Posts Tagged ‘Chicago Sun-Times’

How Some Things Never Change For The Chicago Bears

Posted by sportsmaven on March 22, 2010

My grandmother died on January 5, 2005.  My mom and dad divided, packed, and distributed her various belongs amongst my two brothers and my cousin.  Being the oldest grandchild, with what I felt was the closest relationship with my grandmother, I couldn’t bring myself to go through my box of memories my grandmother left for me…..until this afternoon.  Yes, 5 years, 2 months, 2 weeks, and 3 days later (or 1,901 days later, for those who like large numbers) I decided to unpack those boxes.

AP Photo/Jim Prisching

As I am unpacking the boxes, the very fragile items were wrapped in the January 10, 2005 edition of the Chicago Sun-Times.  As I’m gathering up the piles of newspaper to put in the recycling bin, I noticed an article in the Sports section called “Just Call Him Run Turner”, written by Brad Biggs.  It was an article announcing the Chicago Bears hiring of Ron Turner to be their offensive coordinator.  I sat down in my easy chair in my office to read the article, a quote that Turner made upon being interviewed for the article.  It said:

What we need is pretty well documented – an upgrade on the offensive line and at receiver.  With any offense, you’re always looking to upgrade.

Here we are, March 22, 2010 and after Bears GM Jerry Angelo’s high profile spending spree that netted DE Julius Peppers, RB Chester Taylor and TE Brandon Malumaleuna, if you ask almost anybody with football knowledge what’s left for the Bears to upgrade on offense, you guessed it, it’s upgrading the offensive line and the receiving corps.

Now Jerry Angelo does get credit for signing perhaps the two biggest free agent acquisitions in team history with consecutive season signings of QB Jay Cutler and Peppers.  And if the Bears were two players away from being major Super Bowl contenders, Angelo may have been hailed as the savior of Chicago sports with those signings. 

But as astute as Angelo was in his big signings, he has failed in almost every other free agent signings and has yet to hit it big with any of his own draft picks.  It’s safe to say that Angelo’s poor draft and free agent signings has put the Bears to the point of desperation to be in a position to have to overpay for big name free-agents in an all or bust 2010-2011 football season.

If you ask anyone what the Bears needed to upgrade since their Super Bowl run in 2006, you’d also be a big winner if you said the offensive line and wide receiver.  So 5 years after the Ron Turner hire, we still need the same thing on offense — offensive lineman and wide receivers.  Funny how some things never change.

For the record, my grandmother LOVED the Bears and would have loved Cutler and Peppers.  But even she would have told you that she would have loved to have seen an upgrade to the offensive line and receivers before she died….

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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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Jerry Reinsdorf Speaks, Do Chicago Bulls Listen?

Posted by sportsmaven on January 30, 2009

Jerry Reinsdorf doesn’t do very many interviews.  Not with the Chicago White Sox, certainly not with the Chicago Bulls.  Jerry Reinsdorf woke up early this morning and gave Mike North and Dan Jiggets an interview on their Comcast Sports “Monsters In The Morning” TV show.  It seems to have been a bit of a disaster, at least for Bulls head coach Vinny Del Negro.

Chicago Bulls head coach Vinny Del Negro wipes his face as he watches his team play.  (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)

Chicago Bulls head coach Vinny Del Negro wipes his face as he watches his team play. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)

In the interview, North gets into the meat of the conversation with Reinsdorf

Mike North: Where would you rate this season?

Jerry Reinsdorf: You want the grade up till today? What’s the lowest grade you can give? This has been a disaster. It’s embarrassing. But it will get better.

Nearly 200 miles away, the Bulls were getting ready for their matchup against the Sacramento Kings.  After their shoot around, Del Negro was asked about Reinsdorf’s assessment.  Chicago Sun-Times staff reporter John Jackson writes in his article in today’s Sun-Times:

“That’s just Jerry trying to motivate and trying to get guys going,” Del Negro said. “Jerry wants to win just like every owner, every coach. It’s not easy. Managing expectations and developing and all those things are very easy to talk about, but they’re hard to do and they take time. Some people are more patient than others.”

I think Vinny got about three quarters of that comment correct.  It is very difficult to manage expectations.  Yes, Jerry Reinsdorf does want to win, and yes, some people are more patient than others.  The motivation part of the statement I absolutely don’t buy one bit.  Honesty is what it is.  Motivation is definitely what it’s not.  It certainly isn’t easy to manage the average ego of an NBA player.  It definitely isn’t easy to manage that ego if you’re a rookie head coach who supposedly carries the label of a “players coach”.  Jerry isn’t the guy that is going to motivate players.  DelNegro is that guy and if he needs Reinsdorf to motivate, that’s an indictment of Del Negro not getting the job done.  It isn’t an easy job, ask Scott Skiles.

The next part of the conversation is what really disturbed me.  Jackson’s transcript of the interview continues with this exchange:

Dan Jiggetts: How comfortable are you with John at the helm?

Jerry Reinsdorf: When you have a team that’s not performing it’s an organization failure. You win and you lose as an organization. But if there’s one person that is not responsible for what’s going on right now, it’s John Paxson. I have tremendous confidence in John Paxson. He’s really one of the best people that I know. He’s a great general manager and a great judge of talent. I just worry that he not be too hard on himself. He takes all of this very, very seriously.

Mike North: To say that he’s not at all responsible … he brought in the players. So are the players not being coached up?

Jerry Reinsdorf: I have a lot of thoughts about that but they’re not thoughts that I really can say publicly. All I know is what we have right now is not good and we have to get it better. They are playing hard in the last half-dozen or so games. We had some games where…

Mike North: You knew they were mailing it in.

Jerry Reinsdorf: They were mailing it in and I felt like standing up and booing along with everybody else. They’re not mailing it in anymore.

This exchange to me, shows how ridiculous Reinsdorf can be sometimes.  The organizations win and lose mantra starts from the top on down.  I didn’t hear Reinsdorf say it starts with him.  He definitely doesn’t hold Bulls GM John Paxson accountable.  It all ends right there with Del Negro holding the bag of stink.  North tried to take it right back at Reinsdorf, suggesting that it might be coaching and Reinsdorf, with the eloquent defense for his general manager, offered no such grace for his head coach.

This whole exchange reminds me of the end of the movie, Titanic.  The ship has hit the iceberg and everyone in charge realizes the ship will eventually sink.  The ship’s captain (Del Negro), doing the honorable thing, locks himself in the bridge, planning to go down with his ship.  The ship’s archtect (Paxson) is last seen standing on the slanted deck of the first class lounge adjusting a clock that stopped, his fate sealed by the iceberg.  It is implied that he too, goes down with the ship.  The ship’s owner (Reinsdorf), who gave the order to speed through the oceans dotted with the icebergs, sheepishly jumps in a lifeboat and saves his life as the ship goes under.  See the parallels?  Accountability starts at the top.  Reinsdorf hired Paxson.  Paxson hired Del Negro.  Reinsdorf signed off on Del Negro.  Reinsdorf is as much a cause of the “disaster” as Paxson and Del Negro.  If he says that instead of that jibberish he said this morning, I would have more faith in his management skills, but alas, it’s yet another example of a lack of leadership and accountability at the top of organizations.  By the way, Bulls analysts Norm Van Lier and Kendall Gill both agree with me.  They said it themselves on tonight’s Bulls Postgame show.

Finally, do you think for a single moment that anyone wearing a red and black uniform really gives a damn about what Jerry Reinsdorf says?  Do you think that Ben Gordon read that interview and suddenly got motivated to drop 50 on the Kings, or to play a little defense?  Do you think Tyrus Thomas or Joakim Noah, or Derrick Rose watched that interview and felt the need to break down the doors to the hotel to sprint to the ARCO Arena to pound the Kings into submission tonight?  Only in your sweetest of dreams.

P.S. The Chicago Bulls pounded the Sacramento Kings 109-88.  Maybe the Bulls were listening a little bit to Reinsdorf….nah, I don’t think so.

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Is Chicago Bulls Coach Vinny Del Negro Losing The Team?

Posted by sportsmaven on January 8, 2009

Chicago Bulls GM John Paxson knew he was taking a huge risk by hiring rookie coach Vinny Del Negro as his next coach of the Bulls.  We all know how well rookie coaches have fared in Chicago since Phil Jackson left town after the 1997-98 season.

Chicago Bulls Head Coach Vinny Del Negro, left, talks with Joakim Noah in the fourth quarter of an NBA basketball game against the Sacramento Kings in Chicago, Tuesday, Jan. 6, 2009. Chicago won the game 99-94. (AP Photo/Paul Beaty)

Chicago Bulls Head Coach Vinny Del Negro, left, talks with Joakim Noah in the fourth quarter of an NBA basketball game against the Sacramento Kings in Chicago, Tuesday, Jan. 6, 2009. Chicago won the game 99-94. (AP Photo/Paul Beaty)

Names like Tim Floyd, Bill Cartwright, Jim Boylan (interim after the Scott Skiles firing) and now Del Negro have all walked the hallowed halls of the Berto Center with the unofficial title of “rookie head coach.”  All have failed miserably, some setting the team back years in what feels like year 10 or 11 of  the rebuilding project.

Now there’s rumblings behind the scenes that current Bulls rookie coach Vinny Del Negro may be losing the team:

Are these signs that Vinny Del Negro is losing his team?  I would have to say that these are definitely not signs that Del Negro has a firm grasp on the team, the way Scott Skiles had a grasp on the team when he was named Bulls coach.

The Bulls are definitely in a rebuilding mode around Del Negro and rookie point guard Derrick Rose.  A .500 record is not out of the question for this Bulls team, but losing to the likes of the Minnesota Timberwolves doesn’t help the cause.  More to come on this issue as the season progresses…

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Winter Classic Is Chicago Blackhawks Coming Out Party

Posted by sportsmaven on January 1, 2009

It can be very easy to say that the star of this afternoon’s NHL 2009 Winter Classic is Wrigley Field, and even easier to say the game is a showcase for NHL power, defending Stanley Cup Champions, and this year’s Stanley Cup favorite, the Detroit Red Wings.  But lets not be mistaken any longer than needed.  The NHL Winter Classic is the coming out party for Rocky Wirtz/John McDonough led, new, improved, and revived Chicago Blackhawks team.  And it’s exactly what the NHL needs for an Original Six team that has been down on it’s own luck.

(Tribune photo by Charles Cherney / December 31, 2008)

(Tribune photo by Charles Cherney / December 31, 2008)

Of course, the young Chicago Blackhawks team has been doing it’s part, especially of late, winning a franchise record 9 games in a row.  That streak was broken yesterday in Detroit, with the Red Wings pitching a shutout, adding to the already incredible hype of today’s game, making it into a nationally televised grudge match.

At least two generations of Hawks fans have been disenfranchised by the draconian methods of management under long time owner Bill Wirtz.  When the older Wirtz died in September of 2007, his son Rocky was tapped to run the team, and it seemed that Rocky learned all the “lessons” of his father’s mismanagement.  In 188 sweeping days, Rocky has reversed all the negativity of past mismanagement, with his first move, stealing the marketing genius McDonough away from the Chicago Cubs.  That move alone signaled to Hawks fans that Wirtz was committed to reviving the sagging fortunes of the once-proud Blackhawks franchise.

The rest is marketing history.  As we ring in what we hope to be a better year in 2009, hope springs eternal in the City of Chicago, for the Chicago Blackhawks, and their fans.  Regardless of the outcome of today’s game, the Winter Classic marks the coming out of a young Chicago Blackhawks team, the unveiling of a new, historic direction for a historic Original Six team.  For those not fortunate enough to secure tickets for the Classic, the game will be brodcast on television, as will every single game the Blackhawks will play this season.  This is a first in the 82-year history of the team.

So let the celebrations begin, hopefully the first of many celebrations for the new, improved Chicago Blackhawks.

Blackhawks Extras:

ESPN has extensive coverage of today’s NHL Winter Classic:

On the local front, the popular stories of the week on the Winter Classic:

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