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Blackhawks Tue May 06 2008

Foley Returns to Fold?

In the May installment of of righting the wrongs of years past comes news the Blackhawks have parted ways with TV play-by-play man Dan Kelly, with many people expecting that famed broadcaster Pat Foley will return to the Hawks fold next season.

Foley called Blackhawks games on TV and radio for more than 25 years before the team withdrew a new contract offer in 2006, ending his longstanding tenure over unspecified "personal" reasons. Foley was a fan favorite both for his excitable and passionate play-by-play and his unabashedly honest assessment of the team's strengths and weaknesses, which is the factor many believe led to his ultimate dismissal.

Foley moved to Allstate Arena to call games for the Chicago Wolves, but with his contract up at the end of the year, Hawks President John McDonough appears primed to welcome back the "Voice of the Blackhawks" in the latest attempt to rebuild the bridge to the team's storied history.

Dan Kelly was behind the mike for two uneven seasons, with many fans unhappy with his style and the frequent tangent discussions with partner Eddie Olczyk that often resulted in missed calls. A change was becoming necessary in any event, but the return of Pat Foley will make many a Hawks fan's day.

In other Hawks-related news I've been lax in reporting, there was little surprise in seeing both Jonathon Toews and Patrick Kane named as finalists, along with Washington's Nicklas Backstrom, for the Calder Trophy, given to the league's top rookie.

Kane led all rookies with 72 points, and his 51 assists led the Blackhawks and set a team record for assists by a rookie. While Kane lead the Hawks in points, Toews may have been the more impactful player for the team overall. Toews missed a month with a knee injury, and in that time the Blackhawks went 5-12, including a season-high 7-game losing streak. Despite missing 18 games, Toews still led all rookies in goals with 24 and power-play goals with 7, and finished third overall in rookie points.

While Toews is the more valuable player to the team, the injury time will probably cost him a shot at the Calder. Kane is expected to earn the trophy in a close vote, though Backstrom would be equally deserving and has a chance if the Hawk duo split the vote. Either way, the recognition of the role the two rookies played in the Blackhawks resurgence is a bright sign of things to come.

In other news on the broadcast front, the team announced a 3-year partnership with WGN Radio beginning next season to broadcast all Hawks games, moving from 670 the Score. It's not a shocking switch, given the team's recent agreement with WGN's television arm to air 20 games, but gives the team a greater presence in Chicago and throughout the Midwest.

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