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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 »

UPDATE: Questions Surround Chicago Cubs As Annual Fan Convention Starts

Posted by sportsmaven on May 23, 2011

Loyal Chicago Cubs fans arrive in town today to kick off the 26th Annual Cubs Convention at the Chicago Hilton and Towers. Besides the obvious challenge on how to effectively market a 5th place baseball team, the failed attempts of ownership to get the public to finance upgrades to Wrigley Field, and finding a classy and respectful way to honor a Cubs folk hero after the death of Cubs legend Ron Santo, questions surround the team on and off the field after an offseason that receives a mixed review to date. Some of the questions i’m sure will be brought up this weekend include:

Why Mike Quade over Ryne Sandberg when hiring Lou Piniella’s replacement as Cubs manager?

Why did Carlos Pena hit only .196 last season and was that worth the $10 million salary that was given to him to play 1B for the Cubs? (By the way, what was the deal about deferring half his salary? Are the Cubs in such a financial state that they have to start deferring salary on a player with a 1-year contract? Will he hit over .200 playing half his games in Wrigley this season?

Will you ever find mid-season homes for Alfonso Soriano, Aramis Ramirez and Kosuke Fukudome when the Cubs hit double digits in games behind in the division standings? When do the Cubs start calling up kids from the minors?

How did Cubs P Kerry Wood turn down reported 2 year, $10 million contract offers to accept a 1-year, $1.5 million Cubs offer, including the infamous “Cub for life” clause that was rumored to include broadcasting for the Cubs after he retires. How do you become a Cub for life off a 1-year contract?

Was Cubs P Matt Garza worth the 5 players he was traded for? Do you think any of those 5 players will eclipse the career that Garza has (and will) put together as a Cub? Is he the front of the rotation talent that required 5 minor league prospects to close the deal?

Who will step up in the rotation after Ryan Dempster, Carlos Zambrano and Garza? Does a rotation of Dempster, Zambrano and Garza even scare anyone other than Cubs fans?

Will the strong back end of the bullpen ever get into some meaningful games this season? Will Carlos Marmol, Sean Marshall, and Wood continue to dominate?

Will young talent Starlin Castro, Tyler Colvin, and Andrew Cashner continue their ascent in becoming cornerstones of a revived Cubs farm system that appears to be on the verge of regularly developing major league quality talent? Who will be this season’s Starlin Castro?

Off the field, there are even bigger challenges facing the Ricketts family:

Are last season’s empty seats an aberration or a indictment from fans on the quality on the field?

Will Crane Kenney and Jim Hendry survive another abysmal season as the Cubs top on-field and off-field management?

Will this be the year that the fruit of Cubs Director of Scouting Tim Wilken’s tree starts blossoming?

Will we ever see a Cubs Triangle Building and more investments in infrastructure of Wrigley Field with the Ricketts footing the bill, instead of the taxpayers?

Stay tuned as I will update this post with a progress report around mid-season/All-Star break.

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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.

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Jay Mariotti Provides Chicago Cubs An Assist

Posted by sportsmaven on July 10, 2008

Who would have thought that Chicago Sun-Times sports columnist Jay Mariotti was a budding baseball GM?¬† In his Tuesday column titled “CC This: After bid deal, all eyes turn to Hendry”, Mariotti wrote about the importance of a Chicago Cubs response to the Milwaukee Brewers pickup in reigning AL Cy Young Award winning pitcher CC Sabathia from the Cleveland Indians.¬† Mariotti writes:

Job One should be Rich Harden, he of the 5-1 record, 2.34 ERA, 91 strikeouts and nine consecutive impressive starts until recent speed bumps. The Oakland righty is healthy, and while a hefty talent package will be extracted by A’s dictator Billy Beane, the Cubs should have enough youthful pieces to make a match.

Impressive?¬† You would think that most anyone with baseball sense could have picked then Oakland A’s pitcher Rich Harden as the next logical target, if one truly believed that the Cubs were actually in the CC Sabathia sweepstakes. I believe they were in, but were not serious contenders because they lacked the necessary pieces that Cleveland desired for a difference maker with the stature of Sabathia, by far the best pitcher available in what is quickly appearing to be a bear market for impact players.¬† The Cubs didn’t pursue Harden as openly as Brewers stalked Sabathia.¬† Who even knew that Cubs GM Jim Hendry and A’s GM Billy “Moneyball” Beane were even seriously talking?¬† But less than 24 hours later, the deal was complete, Harden was a Cub along with an important insurance policy,”throw-in” P Chad Gaudin.¬† The inclusion of the 25-year old Gaudin is what makes a very, very good trade a great trade.

Jay Mariotti not only reveled his sound baseball logic, but he also predicted the huge amount of talent the Cubs would have to give up for Harden (although I thought the Cubs got off easy in that regard, with the only painful departure being RHP Sean Gallagher).¬† Mariotti also nailed the timing, although that may have had more to do with being lucky than being good.¬† But he was good with the rest of the story.¬† You might not like Jay Mariotti, and believe me, there are many that don’t, but you can’t say that he wasn’t on top of his game on this one.¬† Kudos. Jay.¬† Maybe Jim Hendry does read your columns after all.

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Chicago Cubs Uneventful Spring Training….NOT!

Posted by sportsmaven on March 7, 2008

Just when we thought the Chicago Cubs could have a quiet, productive, uneventful spring training…..reality sets in and proves once again that spring training is anything but ordinary for a franchise entering into the Golden Anniversary year of it’s last World Series championship. Off-field drama has dominated the Cubs camp, beginning with Day 1 posterboy, 3B Aramis Ramirez and allegations of cock fighting in the Dominican Republic and the majestic entrance of RF Kosuke Fukudome and the entourage of Japanese baseball reporters. Day 2 opens with news from winter blitzed Chicago that the Cubs are suing a rooftop owner who is refusing to pay his fair share of rooftop revenue. The Cubs have threatened to block said owner’s rooftop until payment is made. By the end of the first week, 2B Mark DeRosa leaves camp in an ambulance for a non-baseball heart procedure. Welcome to Days of Our Cubs.

lou-piniella-in-spring-training-3-5-08.jpg

(AP Photo/M. Spencer Green)

For the encore, lets take a look at the next few days issues:

  1. RHP Jose Ascanio was sent to the hospital to be examined for injuries suffered in a one-sided fistfight at a Scottsdale convenience store
  2. Sam Zell warms up to Cubs fans by announcing that the Wrigley Field naming rights are open to the highest bidder
  3. Sam Zell warms up to the City of Chicago by announcing that he wants to renegotiate more night games and concerts for Whateverit’scalled Field
  4. State of Illinois makes pitch to buy Whateverit’scalled Field by dissing the City of Chicago’s landmark status and suggestions of hijacking tax revenue from revenue generated from stadium improvements for the next 30 years or so

So what about the real baseball issues, you ask? Well, those are just as outrageous:

  1. 3B Aramis Ramirez starts camp with his annual injury, nursing a sore shoulder that keeps him out of early game action
  2. RF Alfonso Soriano breaks a finger, sidelining him for 3 to 5 to 7 to who knows how many days.
  3. RHP Ryan Dempster makes a bold prediction that the Cubs will win the World Series in 2008
  4. RHP Jason Marquis boldly states that if he is not a starter, he wants to be traded
  5. Manager Lou Piniella pitching the Tribune Company to extend GM Jim Hendry’s contract while simultaneously dropping hints for his own contract extension
  6. Lou Piniella blows a gasket over Jason Marquis is-guided comments, losing early, meaningless spring training games, and the details of the pitching staff work schedule
  7. The on again, off again, on again, never happening trade talks with the Baltimore Orioles for 2B Brian Roberts that will fuel the rumor mill for the remainder of spring training to the July 31st trade deadline

Seriously, there are some on-field baseball issues to resolve, right? You bet:

  1. Who will be the 4th and 5th starters and where will Jason Marquis be pitching in 2008?
  2. Is Alfonso Soriano really leading off again?
  3. Who will be the Cubs closer?
  4. Can Kosuke Fukudome really hit?
  5. Do we have a CF on our roster that can actually play?
  6. Can Lou Piniella write 100 different lineups by the end of spring training?

Well, at least the entire Cubs organization from top to bottom, knows how to keep it entertaining for the rest of us. And to think that RHP Carlos Zambrano is the voice of reason in this year’s spring camp…..wait until the Cubs acquire a new owner? Mark Cuban, where are you?

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