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Thursday, December 14

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Blackhawks Wed Jul 01 2015

Blackhawks and Saad Part Ways, But All Not Lost

Chicago BlackhawksIt was a move most everyone considered impossible, losing out on a proven 22-year-old stud to cap restraints, especially after he scored eight goals and notched three assists in the postseason to help his team win its third Stanley Cup in six years. But after the news broke Tuesday afternoon that Brandon Saad had been traded to the Columbus Blue Jackets, the first thing to set in after the initial sting was acceptance in the salary-cap era.

A great two-way player, who benefited playing alongside surefire hall of famers in Jonathan Toews and Marian Hossa, Saad won over the Hawks faithful with his work ethic and electrifying plays on the scoring end and with no-look passes. There's no question the Hawks have gotten away with paying Saad an extremely affordable salary, but, eventually, his talent on the ice was going to cost Stan Bowman and company much more than the annual $842,500 bargain after season's end when he would become a restricted free agent.

Welcome to the era of the salary cap, Blackhawks fans. It's meant to give the league a fighting chance against a dynasty, and offers a chance for players like Saad to strike it rich and lead a new team to the promised land after an apprenticeship with the best. Currently, that's what is important to Saad. What's important to the Hawks, in this inevitable aftermath, is what they received in return so as to continue to redefine what is "dynasty" after these collectively-bargained rules were set in place a decade ago.

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Jim Crago / Comments (2)

Blackhawks Fri Jun 26 2015

Blackhawks Parade and Rally Another for the Ages

Chicago Blackhawks It was a thrilling ride the Hawks took us on the last two months, and it ended with a third Stanley Cup in six years, and the team's sixth overall in its history (that still seems way too low). After commissioner Gary Bettman awarded Duncan Keith his much-deserved Conn Smythe trophy and asked captain Jonathan Toews to come over to accept Lord Stanley, all that was left was the celebration.

For those who missed out on flooding the streets of Wrigleyville, or packing into those trendy downtown nightclubs, which now hang the iconic Blackhawks logo, there was to be yet another celebration for all on Thursday, June 18, rain or shine. Unfortunately, too much rain forced the city to hold the rally at Soldier Field; however, despite the lack of space to pack hundreds of thousands in attendance, the impromptu event seemingly ran efficiently.

Local photographer Joshua Mellin beautifully captured some of the images from the Hawks' rally. So even if you weren't able to make the party of the year, Joshua's images will put you front and center.

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Jim Crago

Bulls Thu Jun 18 2015

Hoiberg's Coaching Staff Coming Together for the Bulls

BullsFred Hoiberg's coaching staff is slowly coming together as the Bulls have officially hired Jim Boylen as associate head coach. Boylen is no novice to the game -- he's coached at both the college and pro levels for more than 30 years.

Hoiberg has expressed his desire to add a seasoned veteran to his coaching staff. Boylen meets all those requirements and Hoiberg expressed his enthusiasm for the new associate head coach.

"I am very excited to add Jim to our staff as our associate head coach,'' Hoiberg said in a statement released by the team. "His track record speaks for itself with nearly 30 years of coaching experience and three NBA championships on his resume."

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Chris Zois

Blackhawks Tue Jun 16 2015

Blackhawks Win Third Stanley Cup in Six Years

Chicago Blackhawks As the Blackhawks stood in line last June to shake hands with the Los Angeles Kings after dropping a Game 7 thriller at home, each player who remained wanted to do whatever possible to erase that memory from their mind, and make it right for a fan base which had grown tenfold.

Repeating as champs in any sport is the toughest thing there is to do; repeating as champs in a salary-cap era is nearly impossible. The Hawks had managed to win two in its cap era, but the Kings matched that feat after wiping through the Rangers in last year's Final.

After a long offseason, a series of ups and downs throughout the regular season, and a rather erratic start to the postseason, the Blackhawks -- period by period, game by game -- began to erase that memory. And then, finally, just as the skies opened from up above the city and unleashed a torrential downpour before Game 6, the Hawks washed away all memories from a year ago, and eventually shook hands on the very same spot, but this time as Stanley Cup champs -- now its third in the last six years.

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Jim Crago

Blackhawks Tue Jun 09 2015

Blackhawks in a Familiar Spot Down 2-1

Chicago Blackhawks After Brandon Saad gave the Hawks a 2-1 lead a little over four minutes into the third period of Game 3 Monday night, the cheers that followed nearly tore the paint off the United Center. The passing that occurred to set it up -- Jonathan Toews slings the puck up to Duncan Keith at the point, to Marian Hossa down low, and across to a wide-open Saad for pay dirt high on Ben Bishop's glove side -- was a thing of beauty, and something Hawks fans wished would occur on an actual power play from time to time.

Nevertheless, the goal was a real back-breaker for Lightning head coach Jon Cooper, especially after his team blew a five-on-three power play late in the second period. The Hawks looked to open things up after such a textbook play; however, a mere 13 seconds later, Ondrej Palat tied the game as Gene Honda was still announcing Saad's go-ahead score when Braydon Coburn beat Marcus Kruger on a pinch to set it all up the other way.

The Lightning eventually took the lead for good after Cedric Paquette took a beautiful feed in front of Corey Crawford from Victor Hedman with just 3 minutes, 11 seconds remaining in regulation, to give Tampa Bay and the legion of Hulkamaniacs, a 3-2 win and a 2-1 series lead. It was quite deflating for those watching at the UC, at home or at their local watering hole, but it's a situation the Hawks have been in before and a deficit they can overcome like they did in 2013.

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Jim Crago

Blackhawks Thu Jun 04 2015

Blackhawks Match Lightning Speed to Take Game 1

Chicago Blackhawks If the first 10 minutes of Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final was any indication as to how the Tampa Bay Lightning were going to go about playing in this series, the Hawks quickly countered and was able to catch up in faceoffs and speed to steal home ice after a 2-1 win at Amalie Arena.

A lot was made, coming into this series, about Tampa's top-scoring threat in Steven Stamkos, as well as the "Triplets Line," consisting of Tyler Johnson, Nikita Kucherov and Ondrej Palat and their creativity and speed on the ice. The talent is undeniable, but it was two players from the Hawks' "80's Night" line, in Teraveinan and Antoine Vermette, who were the difference on offense.

The Lightning brass took a lot of measures to keep Hawks fans from buying tickets and raining on its parade for these first two games of this series, which proved to be a lame move, but somewhat successful. What they couldn't stop was the Hawks reigning the final 20 minutes and stealing home ice in this final battle for Lord Stanley's Cup.

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Jim Crago / Comments (1)

Blackhawks Mon Jun 01 2015

It's Blackhawks & Lightning for the Stanley Cup

Chicago Blackhawks After battling though six unforgettable games against the Anaheim Ducks in the Western Conference Final, the Blackhawks managed to calm everyone's nerves after the first 20 minutes of play in the deciding Game 7. The feeling was either the Hawks in a close one or the Ducks mow right through in a laugher.

Instead, it was captain Jonathan Toews scoring the game's first two goals, which resulted in Bruce Boudreau's team playing on the backs of its skates in yet another disappointing finish to a Game 7. The 5-3 final from the Honda Center Saturday evening may look close, but the game was pretty much over after Toews' second and now his team finds itself playing for its third Stanley Cup in six years.

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Jim Crago

Blackhawks Thu May 28 2015

Blackhawks Force Game 7 on Shoulders of Duncan Keith

Chicago BlackhawksThere was something about going into Wednesday night's Game 6 that felt different for a Blackhawks team looking to avoid elimination on its home ice at the United Center. The Hawks have been circling the waters around these Ducks the previous five games, looking to strike and draw blood with not merely a flesh wound, but to devour their opponent, but haven't quite found the right gear to do so.

Some bad turnovers, line experimentations and a sub-par power play have kept the Ducks along and above water -- not to mention the Ducks' size and quickness to choke out a lot of shot attempts. It's been a back-and-forth series thus far, and after a 5-2 win to even things out, there's no doubt Saturday's Game 7 will be no different.

When the Hawks have been down in this series, they appear to be skating with a hockey organ strapped to their backs. When they find a groove, it's due to their all-world defenseman Duncan Keith, strapping his teammates to his shoulders to lead the way on both ends of the ice, much like he did in Game 6.

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Jim Crago

Blackhawks Wed May 27 2015

Do or Die for Blackhawks in Game 6

Chicago BlackhawksThere haven't been many times in which the Blackhawks have found themselves facing elimination over the last six seasons. The threat was very real in 2013 against the Red Wings, facing a 3-1 deficit, only to rally back in legendary fashion to win the second round of the Western Conference playoffs.

There also was last year's 3-1 deficit to the Los Angeles Kings, but another miraculous push to a forced Game 7 fell short after tempting fate with the likes of Michal Handzus and Brandon Bollig earning ice time. There also was the 2012 season, which was cut short by the Coyotes in the first round and, of course, the near-miraculous turnaround against the Canucks in 2011.

All those series seem so far back in the rear-view mirror, but remain tucked in our memory banks for a lifetime. What Game 6 memory the Hawks create will depend on how strong they play in the first period, how well they defend in front of Corey Crawford, and whether or not the likes of Patrick Sharp, Bryan Bickell and a host of others are ready to push a Game 7 or discover their fate in another hockey town for next season.

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Jim Crago

Blackhawks Wed May 20 2015

Kruger Gets Redemption, Ties Series in 3OT Thriller

Chicago Blackhawks After Marcus Kruger took a vicious header to the boards, off a questionable hit by Clayton Stoner early into the first period of Game 2 of the Western Conference Final, it was apparent Kruger was going to be finished for the evening and Stoner would be ejected, or, at the very least, serve a double-minor penalty. The play foreshadowed how the rest of the game would play out: big hits, physical play and no love lost between either side.

Stoner only received a two-minute minor, upon which the Blackhawks were able to capitalize in a rare power-play goal, while Kruger remained in the game, which turned out to be key hours later in the Blackhawks' thrilling 3-2 win played in three overtimes, the longest game ever in the franchise's 89-year history.

While Hawks fans grabbed a quick nap and made their commute to work this morning in a much-better mood -- albeit, a little groggy -- after a prize fight of a hockey game, their team now heads back home for Games 3 and 4 at the United Center with the series tied at one-a-piece.

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Jim Crago

Blackhawks Mon May 18 2015

Despite Layoff, Ducks, Andersen Outplay Blackhawks in Game 1

Chicago BlackhawksAfter a lengthy rest for both the Anaheim Ducks and Blackhawks, it was time to drop the puck for Game 1 of the Western Conference Final at the Honda Center in sunny California. The narrative leading into Game 1 was the Hawks would have been on too much rest and would lose all the momentum after taking it to the Minnesota Wild in a four-game sweep.

Turns out the Hawks only had three more days of preparation than the Ducks (10 days compared to seven days), which didn't seem to kill any momentum for head coach Bruce Boudreau's team, after taking the first in this series by the final of 4-1.

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Jim Crago

Blackhawks Fri May 08 2015

Blackhawks in Western Conference Final, Sweep Wild

Chicago Blackhawks Nothing this season has been particularly easy for the Blackhawks in terms wins. Even with a bit of a cushion, like in last night's Game 4 clincher in which the Hawks went up 4-1 late in the third period after Marian Hossa scored an empty-netter against the Wild in a six on four advantage, the Hawks managed to let Mike Yeo's team get dangerously close before closing it out by the final of 4-3.

For the first 57 minutes, the Hawks played about as solid as they have all season -- heck, the last few seasons -- by way of blocking shots (14 total), winning faceoffs at the dot (the Blackhawks have three in the top-20 this postseason in Jonathan Toews, Brad Richards and Antoine Vermette) and Corey Crawford finding his groove again in between the pipes. Oh yeah, and Patrick Kane doing his thing -- he scored nearly as many goals this series (5) as the entire Wild roster (7).

The final three minutes were another story, but one that proved to be near impossible to defend, especially with the Wild using a two-man advantage on two occasions. No matter, because the Hawks find themselves once again in the Western Conference final -- the team's third appearance in a row and fifth trip in the last seven seasons -- and look to make right on falling short last year.

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Jim Crago

Blackhawks Wed May 06 2015

Kane and Crow Steal Show in Game 3 Win for Blackhawks

Chicago Blackhawks Coming into Tuesday night's tilt at the Xcel Energy Center, the Blackhawks were a mere 1-9 in Game 3s on the road under head coach Joel Quenneville. The usual narrative read like a road map these last handful of years: Take the first two and then settle in on the road, while trying to steal one, preferably in Game 4.

The Game 3 slide happened twice last postseason: once against this same Wild team and then again in the Western Conference final against the eventual Cup champs, the Los Angeles Kings. Last night, however, Patrick Kane and Corey Crawford rewrote that narrative, and now the Hawks are up a commanding three games to none on the Minnesota Wild and look to close out the series Thursday night.

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Jim Crago

Blackhawks Mon May 04 2015

Blackhawks Set Pace on Wild to Go Up 2-0

Chicago Blackhawks It was quite a long weekend of sports, especially for all those in the Chicagoland area. The NFL Draft kicked off Thursday in Draft Town, the Bulls dispatched the Bucks in grand fashion to move on to the second round of the NBA playoffs, The Cubs and Sox tried, the fastest two minutes in sports produced a thrilling finish in the 141st Kentucky Derby, and Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao finally got it on, albeit, in a rather lackluster display in the squared circle.

It was a legendary four days for sure, which undoubtedly produced a few hangovers and a neglected punch list. But capping it all off was the Hawks finally showing a little life on the defensive end and setting the pace against a quick Wild team, going up two games to none in the second round of the Stanley Cup playoffs.

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Jim Crago

Chicago Tue Apr 28 2015

Blackhawks Prep for Wild Series

Chicago Blackhawks After a rather neurotic series against the Nashville Predators, the Hawks find themselves in a second-round rematch against a team hell-bent on making good from last year's 4-2 series loss in the Minnesota Wild. The Hawks were able to figure out Pekka Rinne just in time to close out the Preds, all while figuring out issues within their own net in Corey Crawford and Scott Darling (and then Crawford again).

The Hawks' defense didn't help matters, allowing way too many shots on goal to both Crow and Darling, but in the end they managed to pressure Rinne, especially the last four to five minutes of Game 6, and eke out a series win.

All is well and good in Hawksland now, but if recent play is any indication of how this team will perform from here on out, the result might be Wild in six -- or even shorter than that.

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Jim Crago

Blackhawks Thu Apr 16 2015

Darling Lifts Blackhawks Over Predators but Bigger Question Ahead

Chicago Blackhawks Most everyone in Chicago expected the Blackhawks to win Game 1 against the Predators in Music City last night. What no one ever could have predicted was how they eventually got it done.

In what easily will go down as one of the most exciting games played in the last 20 years, the Hawks went from being down 3-0 after the first 20 minutes of play, which prompted Joel Quenneville to pull goalie Corey Crawford, to clawing their way back on the very broad shoulders of Lemont native Scott Darling and eventually winning in the game's second overtime by the final of 4-3.

Hawks fans will excuse the lack of sleep after a win like that, which is nothing a few extra cups of coffee won't fix. But what likely will keep Quenneville and staff up even later on this evening's off night is deciding whether or not to re-insert the man who got them there in Crawford, or simply to ride the hot hand in Darling and see how it plays out.

Lovie Smith famously said on multiple occasions, "Rex is our quarterback," despite his inconsistent play on the field. Will Q echo those sentiments?

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Jim Crago

Blackhawks Tue Apr 14 2015

Patrick Kane Cleared to Play for Blackhawks, but Is It Too Soon?

Chicago Blackhawks It's been 49 days since Patrick Kane broke his left collarbone when Florida Panthers' defenseman Alex Petrovic put a mild cross-check on the league's leading scorer. Kane was given 10-12 weeks of recovery time by doctors, which put Blackhawks fans in a state of depression and general manager Stan Bowman in a trading mood.

During that stretch, the Blackhawks went 12-8-1, often trading places with the St. Louis Blues in the standings, until the gas tank ran on empty the last four games of the season. Forty-nine days later, the Blues clinched the Central, the Hawks managed to keep pace with the floundering Nashville Predators in the loss column and start the first round on the road, and Kane was cleared to participate in Game One of the Stanley Cup playoffs.

A lot has changed, but one question remained the same: would Kane's shoulder hold up come playoff time, especially when contact is intensified? The prognosis had Kane coming back deep into the postseason; however, now that Kane has been cleared to return five weeks earlier than expected, that initial question has changed: is Kane returning too early?

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Jim Crago

Blackhawks Wed Apr 01 2015

Playoff Scenario for Blackhawks Shifting Everyday

Chicago Blackhawks It's been an interesting week in the NHL's Central Division for nine teams -- some of those looking to get in and some of those looking to host home ice. Just when the Blackhawks' playoff scenario looked bleak late last week (in regards to positioning), they win two games in a row and are now back in the hunt for the division lead.

Just as March went out like a lamb, so too did the Hawks' play, prior to their last two. They went from being a wild-card team last week after losing 4-1 in Philly and then dropping 5-2 at home to the Blue Jackets, to currently sitting one point behind St. Louis for second and five points behind Nashville for the division lead.

And with six regular-season games remaining on the schedule -- two of which are against the Blues -- the Hawks are hoping to make life a little easier on their travel schedule by hosting, at minimum, the first two rounds of the Stanley Cup playoffs.

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Jim Crago

Blackhawks Wed Mar 25 2015

Crawford Finding the Ability to Forget

Chicago Blackhawks Goalies are a lot like relief pitchers in baseball, meaning, if there's a bad outing, they need to forget it ever happened. The ability to block something out -- suppressing it deep within the hippocampus -- has separated the elite in late-inning relief from those who wind up back in Triple A.

This season for the Hawks, Corey Crawford has excelled in his ability to let go the occasional clunker and come right back a few days later to lock it back down in net. It'd help his cause, and sanity for that matter, if his teammates cleared the zone a little more consistently, but nonetheless, Crawford has put up career numbers in a season where he's on pace to see more shots than ever before.

What's different from this season compared to seasons' prior when the Hawks' netminder would fight through more frequent slumps? Perhaps it's working harder between the pipes as well as exercising his neurological skills.

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Jim Crago

Blackhawks Tue Mar 17 2015

Blackhawks Keeping Pace in the Central Minus Kane

Chicago Blackhawks Losing a player like Patrick Kane would cause any team and fan base to question its future, especially so close to the playoffs. Before fracturing his left collarbone on February 24, against the Florida Panthers, Kane was leading the league in scoring and making a strong case for becoming the first Hawk since Stan Mikita in 1968 to win the Art Ross (scoring title) and Hart Memorial (regular-season MVP) trophies.

Since the injury, the Hawks have compiled a 6-1-1 record and have closed the gap on both the Nashville Predators and St. Louis Blues in the Central Division to within five points apiece. With 14 games remaining on the regular-season schedule, the Hawks are looking to make a legitimate run at winning the division with a (somewhat) rejuvenated power play, and sense of urgency with old and new blood on the roster.

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Jim Crago

Review Tue Mar 10 2015

Review: Before the Ivy: The Cubs' Golden Age in Pre-Wrigley Chicago

BeforeTheIvy.jpgThe Cubs ownership had been battling with the neighborhood over a noise ordinance during its ballgames over the past few seasons. At one point matters became so heated the team owner threatened to move his team elsewhere.

Around the same time, renovations to the stadium were being finished off, which would update the old gem to a more state-of-the-art facility that would rival any other ballpark in the league. Of course, money would be an issue, which, ultimately, caused the team to break up its veteran squad in favor of rebuilding a winner from the ground-up.

Sound familiar? It should if you've been paying attention to the Northsiders over the last handful of seasons. But it turns out this kind of thing had been happening over a century ago -- well before stepping foot onto Wrigley Field -- to a team once defined by a dominant pitching staff and a string of world championships.

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Jim Crago

Blackhawks Thu Mar 05 2015

New Blackhawks Looking to Help Team as Playoffs Approach

Chicago Blackhawks As the trade deadline approached Monday at 2pm, Blackhawks fans were bracing either for a Bryan Bickell or Patrick Sharp (or both) deal that would free up some much-needed cap space for next year and yet still help a team looking to fill the void of an injured Patrick Kane. As the trade clock expired, both players were still in town and Vegas odds makers still felt confident in giving the Hawks a 6-1 edge to win it all come June.

There's no question general manager Stan Bowman has confidence in his team to make it that far, despite the loss of, at the time, the league's leading scorer. The evidence of that comes from the trades made over the last week, which brought in a highly-sought after forward; a veteran on the blue line, who hasn't seen action all season; and a young winger who has more fights (6) than goals (5) this season.

With 18 games remaining in the regular season, and a tightly-packed playoff push in the Central, Bowman is hoping his wheeling and dealing creates a run reminiscent of the 2010 winner, which also could mirror how the team is broken apart, win or lose.

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Jim Crago

Blackhawks Thu Feb 26 2015

Kane Injury Creates Opportunity for Some, Headache for Bowman

Chicago BlackhawksAs if the Blackhawks already weren't looking for answers on its power play, scoring woes, defensive positioning, goaltending questions -- you name it -- now Joel Quenneville and Stan Bowman have to deal with the reality of Patrick Kane sidelined for the next 12 weeks with a fractured left clavicle.

With just over 12 minutes left in the first period, Alex Petrovic checked Kane into the boards while going for a loose puck in the Hawks' offensive zone. The hit wasn't anything deliberate or heinous by any means, but it was enough to send Kane, left-shoulder first, into the wall.

After looking into the issue, the league has decided Petrovic will not be disciplined for the hit, nor will there be a hearing to discuss the act that took place Tuesday evening at the United Center, in which the Blackhawks won 3-2 in a shootout. The Hawks will take the extra point, but the thought of being without its leading scorer and, at the time, potential Hart Trophy winner, has the team pulling together even more so now than after losing three straight last week.

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Jim Crago

Bulls Wed Feb 25 2015

Derrick Rose Injured: What That Means for Him & the Bulls

BullsYesterday was a tough day for Chicagoans. In the bitter cold of night, Chicago watched Twitter explode with Patrick Kane getting injured in Tuesday's game against the Florida Panthers and, to the shock of the entire sports world, Derrick Rose's reported knee pain turning out to be another tear in his medial meniscus in his right knee. The 26-year-old point guard is said to be out indefinitely, and considering this is the same knee that he tore his meniscus in last season and kept him to 10 games, questions about his future as a player is coming in to question just as the future of the Bulls is. So... "What do the Bulls do now?"

Rose's injury problems aren't exactly hidden. The former MVP hasn't played a full season since 2011. One of the inconvenient things about this on the Bulls' end is that the trade deadline has passed, so if they wanted to make a trade for a high caliber player to fill his spot, that ship has sailed. There are rumblings that old 2012-2013 Rose replacement, Nate Robinson, has shown interest to help provide a bit more relief for the current guards.

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Jake Payne / Comments (1)

Blackhawks Tue Feb 24 2015

Darling Gets Another Shot as Blackhawks Fight Through Slump

Chicago Blackhawks You can forget about catching the Central-leading Nashville Predators at this point. Just go ahead and erase the idea of surpassing the best team in the Western Conference right now, which has amassed 87 points and has gone 7-2-1 in its last 10 games.

The focus for the Blackhawks, with 22 games remaining on their schedule, including the home-at-home stint with the Florida Panthers starting tonight, is to remain above water and catch the St. Louis Blues for second in the division.

The panic button has been pressed (again) after the Hawks lost their last three games -- a 3-2 shootout thriller against the Red Wings; a 4-1 loss to the Avs, which produced three goals in just over three minutes in the third period for Patrick Roy's squad; and a 6-2 laugher against the Bruins in front of a national audience -- all during the longest homestand of the year against a set of struggling teams.

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Jim Crago

Blackhawks Wed Feb 11 2015

Blackhawks Look to Ride Hot Hossa During Homestand

Chicago Blackhawks Marian Hossa headed into St. Louis last Sunday with only 10 goals and 34 points after 52 games played this season, and what surely was a lot of questions about his own play swirling in his head. The 36-year-old Slovak had been mired in a bit of a slump, which coincided with his team's recent play on the longest road trip of the season.

The Blackhawks had been shutout back-to-back games for the first time since 2006 during this "Frozen" trip and the defense was skating on its heels, appearing slower than normal for a team as talented as any in the league. All coach Joel Quenneville needed was a player or two to help ignite the team and the rest would follow suit.

What followed was a takedown of the Blues (two points), a shootout loss to the Coyotes (one point) and a rejuvenated Hossa, who tallied four goals and four points along the way.

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Jim Crago

Blackhawks Thu Feb 05 2015

Scoring Woes for Blackhawks a Mere Blip on the Radar

Chicago Blackhawks Ease off the ledge, Blackhawks fans. Things might look a little shaky as February begins, but just because Punxsutawney Phil saw his shadow to allow for another six weeks of Old Man Winter, doesn't mean your favorite team will continue its recent play into the extension called on by everyone's favorite rodent.

Yes, things currently may not seem fine, considering the team has scored as many goals in the last two games as the entire writing staff at Gapers Block -- zero. And, yes, they've been shutout two games in a row for the first time since 2006. But just as the blades upon which they skate can use a little sharpening from time to time, so too will be their ability to sharpen their skills and glide right back to winning more consistently.

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Jim Crago

Blackhawks Thu Jan 29 2015

West Coast Swing a Tough Test for Blackhawks

Chicago BlackhawksAfter a nice break at the halfway point of the season, and whatever you wanted to call the display on ice in Columbus for the All-Star game, the Blackhawks laced up their skates for another long swing to the west coast. The last time the team logged this many miles across the Continental Divide, they collected 10 points in six games (5-1-0) and averaged 3.83 goals per game against some of the conference's best.

Coming into the game against the defending champion Los Angeles Kings Wednesday night, the Hawks were riding a warmed up Marian Hossa (one goal, one assist against Pittsburgh), a young Teuvo Teravainen gaining more confidence at the wing and even a few shifts at the dot, and a completely thermal Patrick Kane making a case for becoming the first Hart Memorial Trophy winner since Stan Mikita in 1968.

Unfortunately, for the Hawks, and those who stuck with them on television until the wee hours, the end result was a little too familiar in games that were in hand but squandered in the third period.

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Jim Crago

Blackhawks Tue Jan 20 2015

Blackhawks Hold Team Meeting as Break Nears

Chicago Blackhawks The last 10 games for the Blackhawks haven't necessarily been the best defensively for a team that looked to be on a mission at the start of the season. Going 5-5-0 during this recent stretch might not seem too alarming unless you've watched how each game unfolded along the way.

The team has been playing a little uncharacteristically as of late: a seemingly calmed Dan Carcillo received a six-game suspension after an illegal cross-check on Winnipeg's Mathieu Perrault; Patrick Sharp, channelling his days with the Flyers, got into a scrape with the Stars' Shawn Horcoff, prompting everyone to yell, "Not the face!"; poor defense, allowing too many shot attempts on Corey Crawford, resulted in the Hawks being outscored 33 to 32 during this time frame.

Certainly not time to panic by any means, considering the All-Star break is this coming weekend, but it was deemed necessary by some of the veterans on the team to address a few holes after 45 games played.

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Jim Crago

Review Fri Jan 09 2015

Review: 73-0! Bears Over Redskins: The NFL's Greatest Massacre

BearsBook.jpgIt was 28 days before Virginia Halas's 18th birthday, and her father, Bears owner and head coach George Halas, was about to lead his team onto the frigid field of Griffith Stadium in the nation's capital to battle Washington for the league title. The country was at a tipping point and about a year away from entering another World War, while the economic decline of the previous 10 years that crippled so many families was slowly beginning to reverse.

The world was a little different back then, but with the exception of leather helmets and god knows what other flimsy protective equipment was available on the gridiron 75 years ago, the game of football still remains the same today: 11 men on each side of the ball, trying to cross the pigskin across the goal line for six points, all within the span of 60 minutes. That and a little trash talking.

The Bears were 8-3 and already had three world titles under their belt from 1921, 1932 and 1933. Washington was 9-2 and previously had beaten the Bears earlier in the regular season by the final of 7-3. Redskins owner George Preston Marshall made the mistake of running his mouth after the game, calling Halas's crew a bunch of whiners and crybabies. What happened next is captured perfectly in Lew Freedman's new book, 73-0! Bears Over Redskins: The NFL's Greatest Massacre.

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Jim Crago

Blackhawks Tue Jan 06 2015

Patrick Sharp Picking Up Shot Tempo for Blackhawks

Chicago Blackhawks It's that time of year again when the Hawks and most other teams in the league tend to drift into a bit of a mid-season funk and create cause for concern. The latest evidence of that is the Hawks' tendency to play from behind by giving up soft- to not-too-difficult shots, most of which fly past Corey Crawford's glove side.

To the Hawks' credit, however, they've found a way to claw their way back into each game and salvage a few points here and there in the process. It makes for exciting hockey, for sure, but certainly isn't clearing the grey away from coach Joel Quenneville's mustache.

The Hawks have been giving up more shots lately, which translates to less puck possession and more goals against. So how to fix such a problem if the defense isn't there? Shoot more yourself, and the Hawks have Patrick Sharp to thank for the recent uptick in firepower.

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Jim Crago

Blackhawks Mon Dec 22 2014

Blackhawks Filling All-Star Roster for 2015 Contest

Chicago Blackhawks It's been a few years since fans have had a chance to watch an NHL All-Star game due to a shortened season in 2013 and Winter Olympics last year. The exhibition may have been put on ice, but it makes its triumphant return this Jan. 24 in Columbus, OH, and features a lot of Blackhawks players already in the mix from fan voting.

The last time the league's elite was on the ice, they were entertaining fans back in 2012 in Ottawa. That was when Team Chara beat Team Alfredsson by the final of 12-9. Marian Hossa scored a goal and had two assists while Patrick Kane chipped in for one assist for the winning team and pulled off a Superman-like move in the skills competition.

A lot has happened between then and now -- another Cup and what should have been another Cup -- so who is on the short list to make the trip to Columbus this time around for the Hawks?

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Jim Crago

Blackhawks Wed Dec 17 2014

Mumps Outbreak Could Sideline More in NHL

Chicago Blackhawks When you hear the name Sidney Crosby and the word viral in the same sentence, it's usually synonymous with an amazing goal that's been replayed over and over again through Social Media. Unfortunately for Sid the Kid and a handful of others in the NHL, the only thing viral these days is located in the parotid gland and is in the form of mumps.

Mumps is one of those infections that harkens back to a time when, as a kid, you were sent to friend's house to become exposed to chickenpox followed by three weeks of homework in bed. That's why anything not referred to as "shingles" for adults seems unthinkable to be contacted, especially those who are considered to be in the best of shape.

Crosby is being monitored by team doctors as he rests, and Penguins GM Jim Rutherford said he's being watched "on a regular basis." But with the infection beginning to spread across the league, questions are being raised as to how this started, what's being done to eradicate it and, for Hawks fans, who on the team might have been infected?

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Jim Crago

Blackhawks Thu Dec 11 2014

Strength of Loonie Deciding Factor in Cap for Blackhawks, NHL

Chicago Blackhawks Remember in college when you were scraping under the couch cushions to scrounge a few coins to buy a meal of ramen noodles followed by a few rounds of 15-cent drafts at the local bar? It seemed hopeless as you already checked a few days prior, not to mention your roommate already claimed the remaining 60 cents between the used sofa and radiator.

Then, as if your prayers were miraculously answered, you reached into your coat pocket and pulled out a crinkled up 10 dollar bill and proceeded to drop to your knees and pray to whoever made this glorious wish come true. You were so thankful, in fact, that you decided to splurge all 10 bucks on yourself and friends as if it was your last night in town.

That same elation is what the Hawks and many other teams in the NHL felt on Monday after commissioner Gary Bettman announced at the Board of Governors' meeting that if the Canadian dollar remains steady, the projection for each NHL team would be an extra $4 million towards the cap. It would be huge boost for teams who currently hover around the cap line, which includes the Hawks.

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Jim Crago

Blackhawks Mon Dec 08 2014

Blackhawks Back on Top in the Central

Chicago Blackhawks After a bit of a slow start from the Hawks the first few months of the season, Joel Quenneville's crew finds itself back atop the Central standings after a 3-1 take down of the Predators in Nashville this past Saturday evening. The Hawks are red hot these days, no thanks to blistering play from Patrick Kane, Brad Richards and Kris Versteeg on the second line; goalies Antti Raanta and Scott Darling stepping it up between the pipes for an ailing Corey Crawford; and puck possession as a team, which currently is ranked first in the entire league in CORSI-for percentage at 55.1 percent.

The Hawks have won their last six games and nine of their last 10, which included going 5-1-0 on the annual Circus Trip. The result has produced a one-point difference in the standings, leapfrogging said Predators and positioning themselves a mere four points away for most in the West. And this is all without consistent scoring from Marian Hossa and a sidelined Patrick Sharp.

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Jim Crago

Blackhawks Thu Dec 04 2014

Crawford Misstep Provides Opportunity for Raanta

Chicago Blackhawks After a long and successful Circus Trip where the Blackhawks went 5-1-0, they finally were welcomed home with 10 extra points in the standings, a surging second line and solid play from its goaltender in Corey Crawford, who in his last five games is 4-1-0 with a 1.60 GAA and a .937 save percentage.

And what's most impressive about this recent stretch is the quality of opponent which the Hawks are facing. It certainly isn't a portion of the schedule facing a couple of "tomato cans" as former Chicago Bear Doug Buffone so eloquently states on his radio show, but rather a run through some of the toughest teams in the league.

Outside of a 4-1 loss in Vancouver on Nov. 23, which came on the second half of a back-to-back night of play, not much has slowed down the Hawks in the last 10 games or so, and that's pretty much been the case coming into the season: injury and fatigue. Turns out, as of Monday night, you now can add a Rise Against concert to that list.

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Jim Crago

Blackhawks Mon Dec 01 2014

Blackhawks' Second Line Beginning to Gel

Chicago Blackhawks Coming into the annual Circus Trip a few weeks ago, the Hawks were looking every which way to score goals after outshooting its opponents by a wide margin. Lines were being scrambled and questions began to surface as to whether or not the offseason acquisition of Brad Richards, a Stanley Cup winner with the Tampa Bay Lightning and Conn Smythe winner back in the 2003-'04 season, was worth the $2 million for one year.

This year's Circus Trip looked far more daunting than last year's edition, mostly due to the strength of opposition. Six games, over 5,000 miles traveled and one Thanksgiving feast later, the Hawks and Brad Richards find themselves with 10 extra points in the standings thanks to great play on the road, which all began with the Hawks' second line.

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Jim Crago

Blackhawks Mon Nov 17 2014

Blackhawks Prep for Tough Circus Trip

Chicago Blackhawks Sunday night marked the last home game for the Blackhawks for a few weeks with the annual Circus Trip starting Thursday night in Calgary, and they were able to send the fans home happy after a 6-2 final against the Stars. Four goals in the third period provided the Hawks with their fifth win in their last 10 games and their seventh home victory out of 11.

Now comes the long stretch each season where the team packs its bags and heads west for a few weeks. This year's edition has the Hawks facing the Flames, Oilers, Canucks, Avs, Ducks and Kings -- a trip that could prove to be challenging compared to years' past.

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Jim Crago

Blackhawks Mon Nov 10 2014

Sharp Injury Creating Opportunities for Young Blackhawks

Chicago Blackhawks With Patrick Sharp now sidelined for three to four weeks with a lower-body injury he suffered last week against the Montreal Canadiens, the Hawks will look to Rockford for some much-needed relief, especially with the team's recent scoring drought.

Despite a 5-2 win Sunday night against the San Jose Sharks at the United Center, the Hawks recently have struggled at home, including amassing only two goals in three of the team's previous home contests. The shots on goal were there, but the netminders facing the Hawks played great despite limited second-chance shots. It's not as bad as the Bears' scoring chances, but it was looking a little concerning for a team so loaded with talent.

Sharp led the team last season in points scored with 78 points off of 34 goals and 44 assists; this season, third on the team thus far in points (13 games played) with nine points off of three goals and six assists. For a guy who was rumored to be on his way out of town during the offseason now finds himself on the sidelines for an extended period with Joel Quenneville scratching his head and youth in Rockford itching for an opportunity.

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Jim Crago

Blackhawks Wed Oct 29 2014

Puck Possession Not a Problem for the Blackhawks

Chicago BlackhawksThe Hawks went into Tuesday night's tilt with the Anaheim Ducks as one of the leaders in the NHL in total shots taken. No surprise there, as head coach Joel Quenneville has the pleasure of juggling three deep lines on a nightly basis with a fourth that would suit any other team in the league.

Even after falling 1-0 to the Western-leading Ducks, after another great effort from Lemont native Scott Darling (24 saves on 25 shots), the Hawks still managed to outshoot their opponents by 13. A short-handed goal off of a bad Brent Seabrook turnover notwithstanding, the Hawks continue to out-possess the opposition, which has managed to keep them in each contest thus far at the dawn of the 2014-'15 season.

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Jim Crago

Blackhawks Fri Oct 24 2014

Carcillo, Versteeg Looking to Prove They Belong

Chicago BlackhawksThere are times when Blackhawks general manager Stan Bowman looks like a genius, mostly for his ability to trade away minimal or expiring talent in return for draft picks or relatively unknown prospects. There was the time in 2010 when he traded Cam Barker to the Wild for Kim Johnsson and Nick Leddy, or even something as exciting as when he was able to land Teuvo Teravainen on a three-year contract at entry-level pricing.

But with the good come a few head-scratchers along the way. Most notably, the re-signing of Dan Carcillo prior to this season and re-acquiring, via trade, Kris Versteeg last November. It's been a roll of the dice for sure, especially the Vertseeg move last year. But can both actually provide enough service on the ice for another run at the Cup instead of time spent on the bench or penalty box?

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Jim Crago

Blackhawks Thu Oct 16 2014

Breaking Down the Blackhawks' Fire Power

Chicago Blackhawks If you watched the Hawks' 2-1 overtime loss against the Calgary Flames last night, you saw 50 shots aimed at Jonas Hiller with only one of them hitting the back of the net. Fifty shots total in one game with only one getting through -- a deflection, mind you, from Andrew Shaw via a Patrick Sharp blast from near the blue line.

When reading that stat line the next day, all one can do is shake their head and tip their cap to Hiller, who stood on his head. What Joel Quenneville and staff need to preach after such a frustrating performance is not to change a single thing, at least in terms of putting the puck on net.

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Jim Crago

Blackhawks Mon Oct 06 2014

What the Nick Leddy Trade Means for the Blackhawks

Thumbnail image for GB blackhawks icon.png It only was a matter of time -- at least by Tuesday, October 7, to be exact -- when GM Stan Bowman was going to pull the trigger on trading away a member of the Hawks so that he could trim $2.2 million against the payroll. That victim was Nick Leddy this weekend, to the New York Islanders, for a handful of players in return.

Regardless of how you felt about Leddy and his contributions to the team, in the salary-cap age in the NHL, players come and go, and sometimes the deals may or may not make sense. It's true Leddy was in coach Joel Quenneville's dog house for much of last season, and he did have the Western Conference-clinching puck go off of his backside from an Alec Martinez shot, but that doesn't mean Leddy's worth was anything less than recently acquired threat to humanity Dan Carcillo. Again, sometimes things may or may not make sense.

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Jim Crago

Bulls Thu Oct 02 2014

Bulls' Depth a Formula for Success

Chicago BullsTraining camp is underway as the Chicago Bulls get ready for their first preseason game Monday, Oct 6th. There's much anticipation and high hopes for this Bulls team coming off a successful off-season with the additions of Pau Gasol, Aaron Brooks, and rookies Doug McDermott and Nikola Mirotic, not to mentioned the return of former league MVP Derrick Rose.

There's a new element to this 2014-2015 version of the Bulls, and that's depth. When you look at a potential starting lineup of Rose, Jimmy Butler, Mike Dunleavy, Gasol and Joakim Noah, and a bench of Kirk Hinrich, Brooks, Tony Snell, McDermott, Mirotic and Taj Gibson, you can see the amount of depth and improved scoring that this Bulls team is capable of displaying. But the big question is, how will Tom Thibodeau utilize this depth and who will be the players on the short end of the stick? You can expect Hinrich, Gibson, and Mirotic in the rotation, but who will the others be?

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Josh Williams

Blackhawks Mon Sep 29 2014

Blackhawks Look to Trim Roster/Cap as Preseason Rolls On

Chicago BlackhawksMeasuring quality talent can be a tough test for any coaching staff, especially with as much of it that has come through the Blackhawks' organization in recent years. A mixture of key draft picks and trades have rebuilt a franchise, which captured two of the last five Stanley Cups and the imagination of a city.

With a nice balance of youth, speed and hockey awareness, it becomes a difficult situation -- a good problem to have, mind you -- to decide who makes the final 23-man roster and who heads to Rockford. The roster currently sits at 40, after a few young hopefuls were given the IceHogs assignment last Friday. That leaves 17 more tough decisions to make before opening night, Thursday, Oct. 9, when the Hawks begin the season in Dallas.

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Jim Crago

Blackhawks Mon Sep 22 2014

Blackhawks Hit Camp While Cap Adjustments Loom

Thumbnail image for GB blackhawks icon.png All was quiet on the South Bend campus of Notre Dame Friday morning. Students headed off to class with steam beginning to appear with each exhale; fall was yet a few days away despite a few leafs already beginning to change color.

Their eighth-ranked football team was going into a bye week, yet the energy in the air was still present. Later that day, the Chicago Blackhawks would arrive to open training camp in hopes to make good on a season that ended a little too early with so many expectations riding into it.

The Los Angeles Kings won the Stanley Cup last season for the second time in three seasons, which had many prognosticators asking which of these two teams was the more dominant in the post-cap era. The Hawks and Joel Quenneville will look to address that this upcoming season, but first need to answer a few questions of their own regarding a young phenom, the team's ability to hold a lead and exactly how they'll be able to shave $2.2 million in the next month.

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Jim Crago

Bears Wed Sep 03 2014

Review: We Are the Bears!: The Oral History of the Chicago Bears

WeAreTheBears.jpg Everyone has a Bears story -- everyone. It doesn't matter which generation you're from or how far away you've previously lived before moving here to take that improv class. Odds are, you have a Bears story.

It's also likely you've read a book or two about the Bears somewhere down the line, written by someone who also shares the same memories you have about our beloved Monsters of the Midway. Certainly a lot has been said of this iconic franchise by those who have witnessed the highs and lows from the press box, but not often do we read the accounts from the men themselves. We Are the Bears!: The Oral History of the Chicago Bears offers just that.

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Jim Crago

Blackhawks Fri Jul 11 2014

Blackhawks Sign Kane and Toews Long-term

Thumbnail image for GB blackhawks icon.png It never was a matter of if, but moreso when Stan Bowman would follow through on his promise of making Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane Blackhawks for life. The captain and most dynamic player in the league have come a long way in such a short amount of time in this town, and Wednesday afternoon, both were rewarded with dual eight-year, $10.5 million contracts, which lock in the stars through the 2022-'23 season.

Not to reminisce about a couple of players in their mid-20s, but looking back a mere seven years ago when both were coming into their own in the NHL, it was clear it wasn't a question of if, but when Toews and Kane would lead the Hawks -- a franchise in great need of a boost at the time -- to a Stanley Cup championship.

A few rings, Olympic medals and Conn Smythe trophies later, two of the most recognizable faces in the league were handsomely rewarded by the very team they helped resurrect from obscurity.

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Jim Crago

Chicago Thu Jul 10 2014

Great Bull Run Hits Hawthorne Race Course Saturday

On the same week that Chicago writer Bill Hillman, author of a popular article about running with the bulls in Pamplona along with a recent how-to Kindle book, was gored by a bull in Spain, Chicago area residents get a unique opportunity to run with the bulls right here at home.

Going to Pamplona is a bucket list item for thrill seekers, but it's not cheap when it comes to travel and stay costs -- not to mention the fact that it's utterly dangerous (see gored man in above link). The Great Bull Run at Hawthorne Race Course this Saturday, July 12th, offers you the same thrill that you would get running with the bulls in Spain, but in a much safer environment (as safe as running with bulls can be) and at a fraction of the cost.

For $75 on the day of the event (plus $10 for parking if you drive), you not only get to run with the bulls during one of their six different time slots, but you get a t-shirt, bandana, one free beer, and also get to participate in their Tomato Royale food fight that takes place after the bull running.

Spectator tickets are $15, and tickets for the Royale only can be nabbed for $55. If severe weather threatens the event, the rain out date is on Sunday. For more information about how the event unfolds, check out their handy FAQ page.

Chad Ruter

Blackhawks Wed Jul 02 2014

During Free Agency Spree, Blackhawks Steal Brad Richards

Thumbnail image for GB blackhawks icon.png One by one, players from all around the league slowly began to learn their fate by way of free-agency acquisitions for big money and long-term deals. All the while, Hawks fans waited patiently while refreshing their Twitter feeds in hopes that their team would make a splash while not creating massive waves in the process.

First it was Jason Spezza, moving on to the Dallas Stars in a trade with the Ottawa Senators, a pretty big move for a team within the Central. Then, just before lunch time, the St. Louis Blues announced they had signed Paul Stastny for $28 million over four years.

One by one, from big names to role players, general managers across the league began opening up check books as if it were Black Friday. But all the while, the Hawks hung back and quietly worked through a strategy that ended up surprising most of the league at the end of the day.

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Jim Crago

Blackhawks Tue Jul 01 2014

Blackhawks Deal Bollig and Draft for Skill

Thumbnail image for GB blackhawks icon.png With all the rumors swirling around last week about Patrick Sharp and his $5.9 million deal being dealt away to create more cap space, it turned out general manager Stan Bowman had other plans in mind -- at least for now.

Coming into the 2014 NHL draft in Philadelphia this past weekend, Bowman remained tight-lipped about the Hawks' leading scorer during the regular season and deflected towards the need to re-sign Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane, the need to prepare for lining up new picks and locking in restricted free agents in Jeremy Morin, Ben Smith and Antti Raanta -- all three for two-year deals. Toews and Kane are asking for $12 million each, which they likely won't get, but probably will get close -- say, around $10 million each.

So, with all the drama coming to a crescendo Friday evening, Bowman pulled off a trade no one saw coming: a two-for that included the 20th and 179th picks from San Jose for the Hawks' 27th and 62nd picks. Then, Bowman followed that up Saturday by trading away "sometimes serviceable during the regular season fourth liner" Brandon Bollig to the Calgary Flames for the 83rd overall pick.

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Jim Crago

Blackhawks Wed Jun 25 2014

Duncan Keith Collects Second Norris Trophy

Thumbnail image for GB blackhawks icon.png Coming into the 2013-'14 season, Duncan Keith and his teammates were fresh off the heels of winning their second Stanley Cup in four seasons. It was a summer of showing off the most prized trophy in sports across Canada, parts of Europe and here in the U.S., at a mix of donut shops, fishing trips and every bar in River North.

The joyous feeling was familiar to some, new to others, but one every member of this team agreed would never get old. Repeating as champs in any sport is extremely difficult, especially in one that implements a salary cap like the NHL. And while the randomness of the puck bouncing every which way plays a part in who wins or loses, the one thing that remains constant on the ice is the skill level of a player in his prime.

Keith didn't get his chance to hoist Lord Stanley over his head this season due to a few bad bounces and a Kings team that outplayed coach Joel Quenneville's team, but he was rewarded for his hard work throughout the season at Tuesday night's NHL awards ceremony in Las Vegas.

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Jim Crago

Blackhawks Tue Jun 24 2014

Bowman, Blackhawks Prep For 2014 Draft

Thumbnail image for GB blackhawks icon.png Now that the dust has settled after an epic NHL postseason, as well as your gut settling after a painful Game 7 loss in the Western Conference Final against the Stanley Cup champion Los Angeles Kings, the Hawks are putting together some final decisions before entering this weekend's NHL draft in Philadelphia, PA. The season may be over, but the march towards regaining back the throne as champs starts Saturday with the twenty-seventh overall pick, followed by seven others over the course of two days.

Former Hawks general manager Dale Tallon built most of this current core via the draft, starting with Niklas Hjalmarsson (fourth round) in 2005, Jonathan Toews (third overall) in 2006 and Patrick Kane (first overall) in 2007, to name a few. Once Stan Bowman took over in 2010, he's added Joakim Nordstrom (third round) in 2010, and Brandon Saad (second round) and Andrew Shaw (fifth round) in 2011, with his most recent picks playing in the AHL, college or overseas.

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Jim Crago

Blackhawks Wed Jun 11 2014

Blackhawks Begin to Make Moves, Add Rasmussen

Thumbnail image for GB blackhawks icon.png As the Kings and Rangers wind down the 2014 Stanley Cup Final, the Blackhawks have been resting whatever injuries that came about during the long season and grueling postseason -- all while watching from the comfort of their respective homes. Surely, the watching part is more painful than any contusion or strain, especially considering how close the Hawks came from being in the Kings' current position up three games to none.

But, as Patrick Kane once said, "That's hockey, baby." Now that the gut punch of losing Game 7 has subsided, the Hawks' brass have begun looking to fill whatever holes exist on the current roster. With the draft coming in less than three weeks, Stan Bowman and company will work to clear some cap space all while adding around its current core.

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Jim Crago

Blackhawks Fri Jun 06 2014

Blackhawks Pat Foley Heading to the Hall

Thumbnail image for GB blackhawks icon.pngWhile this city hasn't had much to cheer about over the years in terms of having a last team standing (Blackhawks 2010 and 2013 not withstanding), there's at least one thing for sure that resonates with fans from Lake County, Illinois down to Lake County, Indiana and everywhere around it, and that's the memories of the voices calling the action that have led us along the way.

The Cubs had Harry Caray and Jack Brickhouse before him; Sox fans have enjoyed the Hawk lo these years, although that might depend on who you ask; the Bears also had Brickhouse for a little over 20 years calling the action; the Hawks had long stretches of Bob Elson, Lloyd Pettit, and currently Pat Foley, whose 30-plus years behind the mic makes him the longest tenured in team history.

With the exception of Harrelson (he's been a Ford C. Frick finalist a few times) Caray, Brickhouse, Pettit and Elson are all hall-of-famers in their respective sport. On Monday, Nov. 17, Foley will receive his long-awaited Foster Hewitt Memorial Award in Toronto and will be immortalized forever, entering the Hockey Hall of Fame.

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Jim Crago

Blackhawks Mon Jun 02 2014

Blackhawks Dethroned By Kings

Thumbnail image for GB blackhawks icon.png It's been said the hardest thing to do in sports is to repeat as champion. No truer words have been spoken about doing it in the NHL.

With a bullseye on your back the entire season, every other team in the league aspires to take the throne right from underneath you and put on the crown as champs. This is exactly what happened when the Kings ended the Blackhawks' run as defending Stanley Cup champions by way of a 5-4 loss in overtime Sunday night at the United Center.

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Jim Crago

Blackhawks Thu May 29 2014

Blackhawks Live Another Day Against Kings

Thumbnail image for GB blackhawks icon.png Michal Handzus: 6 foot, 4 inches; 219 pounds; 37 years old; one overtime game-winning goal; third star of Game 5.

In the 1995 film The Usual Suspects, Kevin Spacey said a very memorable quote:

"The greatest trick the Devil ever pulled was convincing the world he didn't exist."

That's what the Hawks did to the Kings Wednesday night at the United Center, and that devil was Michal Handzus. If you predicted Handzus to score the eventual game winner, go ahead and pass Go and collect your $200 with a smile.

The old man, who defies time and space itself, channeled his inner Patrick Kane with a backhander to beat Jonathan Quick, which sent the entire area within the 312/773 into a frenzy while clasping their collective heads in awe in a 5-4 win in double overtime. But in all reality, the Hawks got away with convincing the world they shouldn't have existed for an upcoming Game 6 in La-La Land.

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Jim Crago

Blackhawks Tue May 27 2014

Blackhawks Facing Elimination Against Kings

Thumbnail image for GB blackhawks icon.png After a pretty solid Game 1 against a fatigued Los Angeles Kings team, the Hawks now face elimination down three games to one. As I said before, this is a far different Kings team than the Hawks faced in last year's Western Conference final, and it's showing on the ice.

Sure, claiming the Hawks are tired from a short offseason after winning the Stanley Cup, plus sending 10 Olympians to Sochi would make perfect sense, but there's more to it than that. All teams are tired at this point in the season, it's a matter of who has enough to dig down deep and come through with strong legs and a clear head.

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Jim Crago

Blackhawks Thu May 22 2014

Blackhawks Unable to Close Kings in Game 2

Thumbnail image for GB blackhawks icon.png If you went to bed late in the second period of Game 2 with the Hawks nursing a solid 2-0 lead, you probably woke up a little stunned hearing the final score was 6-2 Kings. How could this have happened, especially coming from a team that seemingly learned from its mistakes of losing late leads early on in these playoffs?

It wasn't as though the Hawks looked sluggish in any way during the first two periods of Wednesday night's game, but what went down in the third with five goals yielded (one an empty-netter) defies anything logical other than the Hawks took their lumps with a combination of too many odd-man rushes, too many dumb penalties and a bad bounce (karma?) that was allowed by assuming a play was finished. Sounds like a Bears game in early January.

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Jim Crago

Blackhawks Tue May 20 2014

Blackhawks Facing a Different Kings Team

Thumbnail image for GB blackhawks icon.png After the Hawks disposed of the Kings in five close games during last year's Western Conference final, skeptics began to ask if undisclosed injuries to Anze Kopitar and others played a role. A deep run for a playoff team will produce any type of ache, pain or punctured lung, especially if said team's back is against the wall.

Going into the series, the then defending Stanley Cup champs were riding the hot stick and glove of Jonathan Quick, who ended his playoff run with the fourth best goals-against average of 1.86, a mere two one-hundredths behind the man who beat him, Corey Crawford.

What beat the Kings in five was a lack of scoring, exiting the playoffs with the eleventh-best goals-per-game average of only 2.06, compared to the Hawks' 2.78. And even though the Hawks took Game 1 at home on Sunday by the final of 3-1, it likely won't be as night and day getting through this year's rematch as last year's near sweep.

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Jim Crago

Blackhawks Wed May 14 2014

Overworked Blackhawks Win Wild Series

Thumbnail image for GB blackhawks icon.png So much for that easy series against the Minnesota Wild in round two of the Stanley Cup playoffs. Admit it, you were just as nervous Tuesday night for Game 6 as you were last year in that epic series against the Red Wings.

The entire Blackhawks squad would be the first to tell you they dodged a few bullets in this series, that Corey Crawford is 90 percent of the reason they've made it to the Western Conference Finals for the third time in five years, and that a few lucky breaks went their way, including Patrick Kane's overtime game winner, the fourth in his career. Nevertheless, good teams always seem to find a way to win despite being overworked along the boards and being blocked on every single shot in sight.

If Mike Yeo's squad can continue to work that extra gear discovered in the Colorado Avalanche series, you can forget worrying about the Blues in the Central. It'll be the Wild that will haunt your dreams.

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Jim Crago

Blackhawks Mon May 12 2014

Blackhawks Grind Out Game 5 Against Wild

Thumbnail image for GB blackhawks icon.png Sometimes it's better talent and a great game plan that works against your opponent in big-game situations. And then sometimes it's the dirty, greasy goals that work out in your favor when everything else fails to make it into the back of the net. That's pretty much how you'd describe the Game 5 performance of the Hawks against the Minnesota Wild.

After pretty much cruising through the first two games of this series; albeit, with some concern with the way the Wild counter-attacked the Hawks' rush, the inevitable occurred up in the Land of 10,000 Lakes when coach Mike Yeo's squad limited the defending Stanley Cup champs to only 19 shots in Game 3 and 20 shots in Game 4 and equalize the series going away. Enter Game 5 and a lot of tension in the air and questions as to how to beat the Wild's ability to limit shots against goalie Ilya Bryzgalov.

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Jim Crago

Blackhawks Fri May 09 2014

Blackhawks Looking To Adjust Against Wild In Game 4

Thumbnail image for GB blackhawks icon.png After the Minnesota Wild cut the Blackhawks' series lead in half with a 4-0 win in the Xcel Energy Center, Joel Quenneville and company no doubt went to the tape to breakdown exactly what went wrong. It was inevitable the Hawks were going to lose at least one game to the Wild in this second round of the playoffs, but how did the team go from scoring five and four goals in games one and two respectively -- both games with 22 shots on goal -- to scoring none after taking 19 shots on goal in Game 3?

It's something the Hawks knew was coming after watching coach Mike Yeo's team pick apart the Colorado Avalanche in the first round, and that's the Wild's ability to control the puck and limit shot attempts for its opponent. And while the Hawks still have to be feeling confident despite the loss, it's something they're going to need to adjust to unless they want another scare.

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Jim Crago

Blackhawks Mon May 05 2014

Bickell Earning Every Penny In Playoffs For Blackhawks

Thumbnail image for GB blackhawks icon.png When Bryan Bickell signed a four-year, $16 million extension after helping the Hawks win their second Stanley Cup in four seasons, a few questions arose amongst the fan base and talking heads. Why pay that much money to a guy who only scored nine goals to go along with 14 assists during last year's shortened regular season?

It was a decent chunk of money going against the salary cap, and with Jonathan Toews' and Patrick Kane's contracts coming up before you know it, the thought was to save as much money as necessary to keep the heart and soul of the team in this city for years to come. Bickell certainly paved the way for a big payday during last year's postseason (nine goals -- one of which will go down as one of the best ever, and eight assists), but the real question was, could he consistently contribute like he did for a full 82-game season plus the playoffs?

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Jim Crago

Blackhawks Thu May 01 2014

Blackhawks to Face Wild: Round 2 Preview

Thumbnail image for GB blackhawks icon.png After coming back from two games to none against the St. Louis Blues, the Hawks had a little time to kill before finding out its next opponent in the Stanley Cup playoffs. During this stretch, the Minnesota Wild played a little catch-up of their own against the Colorado Avalanche, evening out an 0-2 hole and then winning games six and seven to take the series.

After a thrilling three periods in the Pepsi Center Wednesday evening, the Wild and Avs took it to overtime, and that's when Nino Niederreiter fired a wrister past Semyon Varlamov to bury the Avs. So, instead of the Hawks traveling to Colorado for Game 1 of the second round, it'll be the Wild packing their bags and flying into O'Hare to start the series. Time to look at what lies ahead and how the Hawks should take this series.

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Jim Crago

Blackhawks Mon Apr 28 2014

Blackhawks Dispose Blues -- Await Avs-Wild

Thumbnail image for GB blackhawks icon.png After six grueling games against the St. Louis Blues, a series that mirrored a Western Conference-Finals matchup in intensity and physicality, the Hawks clamped down on defense and broke out in scoring to win four straight against a dangerous team.

Out of those six games, there were four that went into overtime -- the first of which that went three overtimes -- and an 0-2 hole that didn't look very promising to coach Joel Quenneville and fans at home. The defense played on the backs of its skates and looked hesitant in its own defensive zone, allowing the Blues to whatever it wanted to offensively.

The only glimmer of hope was comparing what the Blues did last season against the Los Angeles Kings in their opening round of play: the Blues went up 2-0; the Kings fought back and won four straight to take the series. It didn't seem very likely, but now the Hawks find themselves awaiting its next opponent in round two, when exactly one week ago, fans were looking into purchasing Cubs or Sox tickets.

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Jim Crago

Blackhawks Fri Apr 25 2014

Blackhawks Need Help In Defensive Zone Against Blues

Thumbnail image for GB blackhawks icon.png After back-to-back wins against the Blues at the United Center, the Hawks have tied things up at two a piece, which now cuts it down to a best-of-three series. All things considered, this series actually should already be over with the Hawks losing late leads games one and two by a combined 1 minute, 52 seconds.

And, in all actuality, the Blues were a few close shots away from sweeping things themselves, so really there's no need to look back on the past to dwell on "what could have happened." That is unless it concerns the Hawks' play in its own defensive zone.

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Jim Crago

Blackhawks Tue Apr 22 2014

Crawford Spectacular In Blackhawks Win Against Blues

Thumbnail image for GB blackhawks icon.png It's no secret Corey Crawford receives a lot of unwanted and unnecessary criticism with the way he performs in between the pipes for the Hawks. Sure, the occasional softy floats by in the middle of December, or perhaps he's exposed on his glove side from time to time. But regardless of your thoughts on the Hawks' starter, he shows up when needed and he's a far cry away from what used to be in town.

It's fun for fans of the opposing team to chant "CRAW-FORD! CRAW-FORD!" in other towns, only because the cadence fits. But when you have a goaltender stop 34 shots in what pretty much was a must-win game against the St. Louis Blues, it's hard not to root for a guy who fights off more shots his way in criticism than pucks.

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Jim Crago

Blackhawks Mon Apr 21 2014

Poor Defense And Seabrook Hit Costly For Blackhawks

Thumbnail image for GB blackhawks icon.png Coming into the first-round series against the St. Louis Blues, the Hawks preached how it was important not to fall into the trap of getting too frustrated against a tough team. During the 2013 championship season, and all throughout this last regular season, the Hawks were successful by way of outskating and outshooting their opponents, which more times than not led to a victory or, at the very least, a point.

Since last Thursday night's opener against the Blues, there have been costly obscene gestures, a brutal hit by Brent Seabrook on David Backes, which will cost him the next three games, multiple penalty kills -- all of which have contributed to an 0-2 series deficit. And while the Hawks seem a little out of sorts in falling into the Blues' style of play, it's their inability to close -- a problem they've had all season -- that has Hawks fans asking if this actually is their year.

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Jim Crago

Blackhawks Thu Apr 17 2014

Blackhawks and Blues Preview: Round 1

Thumbnail image for GB blackhawks icon.png It seems a little surreal that the NHL playoffs are set to begin, considering how quickly the Blackhawks arrived here after an even more surreal ending to last season. But nevertheless, the postseason is upon us and head coach Joel Quenneville's squad is set to open the first round in St. Louis against the Blues at the Scottrade Center for Game 1.

The Hawks finished the season 46-21-15 at 107 points, which earned them the fourth-best point total in the Western Conference, a rather surprising position considering they were the second-highest scoring team in the league with 3.18 goals per game and twelfth in goals against with 2.58.

By comparison, the Blues were seventh in the league in scoring at 2.92 goals per game and third at goals against per game at 2.29. But all that matters now is which team will hold it together and stay consistent over a longer period of games that either could go as quickly as five or as grueling as seven

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Jim Crago

Chicago Mon Apr 14 2014

Inaugural Be The Match Starts Chicago In Right Direction

Finish.jpg It was a blustery spring morning on Saturday as more and more people approached the tent area at Montrose Harbor. The sun was beginning to peak out, and the warmest outdoor temperature since last October put a smile on everyone's face.

In all reality, the weather could have been 40 degrees with rain, but it wouldn't have mattered. A 5K run and 1K walk to benefit finding a cure for leukemia, lymphoma and other life-threatening diseases was about to start, and the warmth of community and togetherness provided enough energy to power the United Center.

In its inaugural event in Chicago, Be The Match, an organization that for over the past 25 years, has helped countless numbers of individuals find matches from donors, including, according to it's website, 61,000 marrow and cord blood transplants and nearly 6,300 transplants a year. And what better way to help spread awareness of such a program than a healthy stroll on the city's north side.

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Jim Crago

Blackhawks Fri Apr 11 2014

Kane and Toews Prepare for Return to Blackhawks

Thumbnail image for GB blackhawks icon.png With just two games remaining on the Blackhawks' regular season schedule, Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews continue to recover from their respective injuries (Kane: lower-body injury; Toews: upper-body injury) in preparation for the postseason and defense of the Stanley Cup.

Not since 2007 has the team been without both stars for an extended period of time. But thankfully with the steady play of Marian Hossa, Patrick Sharp and Duncan Keith, not to mention the emergence of Ben Smith and Jeremy Morin, the Hawks have rattled off four wins in a row (one in OT, a 3-2 winner over the Montreal Canadiens), and now await either the Colorado Avalanche or St. Louis Blues in the first round of divisional play.

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Jim Crago

Blackhawks Mon Apr 07 2014

Morin and Smith Shining for Blackhawks

Thumbnail image for GB blackhawks icon.png If you would have known two months ago that both Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane were going to be out for the remainder of the regular season down the stretch, odds are you wouldn't have pictured Jeremy Morin and Ben Smith as two of the key components keeping the Hawks afloat for home ice in the first round. But lo and behold, with just three games left in the 2013-'14 season, the Hawks are two points behind the Avalanche and have won three in a row thanks to these two on the ice.

With all the focus on the likes of veterans Patrick Sharp, Marian Hossa and Duncan Keith to help keep the Hawks on pace with the Avs for the first-round divisional playoff matchup while Toews and Kane heal, there's no doubt been a focus on the opposing teams in containing this talented triad. And while each has contributed per usual, it's been the play of Morin and Smith that has turned the heads of fans and caught the attention of head coach Joel Quenneville.

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Jim Crago

Blackhawks Wed Apr 02 2014

Blackhawks Hopeful Toews Injury Not Serious

Thumbnail image for GB blackhawks icon.png After Brooks Orpik's questionable, but legal hit on Jonathan Toews in Pittsburgh, Blackhawks fans were faced with a reality they posed at the beginning of the season: If the team remains healthy, they should be able to repeat as champs.

As Toews skated off on his own nearly halfway through the second period, he was added along with Patrick Kane on the team's list of injuries. And while his upper-body injury doesn't appear to be serious, at least according to head coach Joel Quenneville, the crushing blow by Orpik sent a fan base into a state of panic, counting how many games remained on the regular-season schedule.

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Jim Crago

Chicago Mon Mar 31 2014

Spring Officially Arrives With Shamrock Shuffle

Shuffle.jpg

"If we had no winter, the spring would not be so pleasant: if we did not sometimes taste of adversity, prosperity would not be so welcome."
― Anne Bradstreet, The Works of Anne Bradstreet

Winters in Chicago are usually pretty rough on anyone, no matter if you've lived here your whole life or if you're a recent transplant. And if there's one thing everyone in this town can agree on, it's that this last winter was by far the worst in recent memory.

Tourists from far out of town or newcomers fresh out of college would ask, "Is it always this bad around here?" The answer inevitably is, "It gets bad, but this is a little out of the ordinary." With record-setting snowfalls, followed by record-setting sub-zero temperatures -- followed by more snow and then more sub-zero temperatures -- it was enough to make the thick-skinned Midwesterner tremble like a newborn fawn.

After being exposed to such atrocities for a few weeks, the thought on everyone's mind after a long commute home became a little more hopeful, "This, too, shall pass. Heck, there's only 47 days left until Opening Day!" Baseball aside, living in this town for at least three years will make the most callous cynic into an ardent optimist, and every year the Bank of America Shamrock Shuffle means spring-like weather truly is right around the corner.

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Jim Crago

Blackhawks Wed Mar 26 2014

It's Teuvo Time For The Blackhawks

Thumbnail image for GB blackhawks icon.png For the last few weeks you've been hearing about the next big thing for the Blackhawks organization. No, not Midnight Hawk, the racehorse owned by Joel Quenneville and Mike Kitchen; It's the arrival of Finnish star Teuvo Teravainen [TAY-VOH TARA-VINE-ENN].

Call it Teuvo-mania, which has swept through this city like a Polar Vortex from the north. Teravainen was the Hawks' first pick (eighteenth overall) in the 2012 draft, which miraculously fell into the lap of Stan Bowman as the Finnish Flash was projected to be a top-10 pick that year.

The 19-year-old, 185-pound blonde-headed forward had a lot of hype coming into his debut Tuesday (Teuvo-sday? Sorry, that's the last one) in a game against the Dallas Stars. Leading up to his debut, Teravainen proved very serviceable for his home country in the 2014 World Juniors (seven games, two goals, 13 assists for 15 points) and was among the league leaders in SM-Liiga in scoring with nine goals and 35 assists for 44 points. So needless to say, there was a new kind of buzz in Chicago hockey not seen since the call-up of Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane.

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Jim Crago / Comments (2)

Blackhawks Thu Mar 20 2014

Shaw's Aggression Could Be A Liability For The Blackhawks

Chicago Blackhawks There's always that one person at work who is the nicest individual you've ever met, but always makes the most questionable decisions that eventually sends ripples throughout the organization. They're full of vigor, and come quitting time, they're right there to buy the first round for the team with a smile and a quip regardless of the situation.

You know the type -- heck, they probably sit on the other side of the partition of your cube. They always speak too loudly on the phone while trying to communicate some kind of deal with a client, or they're bragging about their Final Four bracket in the common area while you're simply trying to eat the rest of your leftover Potbelly's sandwich from the night before.

Deep down you love this person, only because you know you'll never hang out with them, but in all reality, they might threaten the betterment of your hard work in the office due to questionable practices. This is what Jonathan Toews must think on a nightly basis about Andrew Shaw.

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Jim Crago / Comments (1)

Blackhawks Mon Mar 17 2014

Blackhawks Return To Form Against Red Wings

Thumbnail image for GB blackhawks icon.png There's never a good time to fall into a losing streak; however, if there's a time to get it out of the way, it's now before the start of the playoffs. The Hawks have had a couple of bad games recently, which put its fandom into a state of emergency wondering if this team was ever going to win another game again. Season over, man. Season over!

Since the Sochi games, the Hawks are 4-4-0, including 0-2-0 coming into last night's game against the Red Wings. A 3-2 loss in Colorado against the Avalanche followed by a 3-2 loss at home against the Predators last week proved two things for fans at home: they're putting a lot of shots on net and taking a lot of bad penalties.

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Jim Crago

Blackhawks Tue Mar 11 2014

Blackhawks Jockey For Playoff Seeding

Thumbnail image for GB blackhawks icon.png With the regular season winding down, the Hawks are looking to earn a top-three seed in the Western Conference playoff picture, which begins in about a month from now. After a much-needed 2-1 win in Buffalo the other night, the Hawks were able to keep pace with the division-leading St. Louis Blues, who have won five in a row and are 7-2-1 in their last ten games.

Right behind the Hawks in the Central are the Colorado Avalanche, who the Hawks face Wednesday night in the Pepsi Center. This game is huge for the Hawks, as a win in regulation would increase their point lead to three over the Avs with as many games played.

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Jim Crago

Blackhawks Thu Mar 06 2014

Blackhawks, Bowman Hold Steady At Trade Deadline

Thumbnail image for GB blackhawks icon.png Yesterday at 2pm marked the end of the NHL's trade deadline for the 2013-'14 season, and all the while Blackhawks general manager Stan Bowman held steady on any big-time moves. Outside of acquiring Kris Versteeg (and Philippe Lefebvre from the Florida Panthers for Jimmy Hayes and Dylan Olsen) back on November 14, and recently acquiring defenseman David Rundblad from Phoenix for a second-round pick in this year's draft, Bowman stated he felt nothing more needed to be added.

While the latter move may not have had the same cache of what happened between the Rangers trading its captain Ryan Callahan to Tampa Bay for its captain Martin St. Louis, Bowman still decided to let this core play through its remaining 19 games of the regular season and defend its title come mid-April without making any waves in the process.

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Jim Crago

Blackhawks Mon Mar 03 2014

Blackhawks Shine In Stadium Series

Thumbnail image for GB blackhawks icon.png There was a flurry of scoring at Soldier Field Saturday night in prime time that for once didn't involve Jay Cutler or any of his weapons on offense. Though, unlike the inhabitants of the 90-year-old stadium, sans enhancements, this defense actually showed up that would have made Papa Bear himself proud.

The NHL brought its Stadium Series to the shores of Lake Michigan for a nationally televised showdown in primetime, just as "Bear weather" moved in from the Hawk off the lake. It didn't stop nearly 63,000 fans from the North Shore to Northwest Indiana from packing the place, nor did it inhibit the defending Stanley Cup champs from marching "Sid the Kid" and his Penguins back to Pittsburgh after a 5-1 beat-down.

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Jim Crago

Blackhawks Tue Feb 25 2014

Six 'Hawks Medal While Rest Of Team Preps For Stretch

Thumbnail image for GB blackhawks icon.png It seems like yesterday we were asking ourselves if sending NHL players to Sochi was a good -- heck, safe -- idea to compete on bigger ice for gold. Ten players from the Blackhawks made the trip to Sochi with six of them coming home with a medal (three gold, three silver -- let's not get into the bronze).

There really wasn't any doubt whether Team Canada was going to wipe through this tournament, especially in the preliminary rounds. But to have witnessed Jonathan Toews, Ryan Getzlaf, Sidney Crosby and the rest of that powerhouse blank the highest scoring team in Team USA in the semis to then turn around and do the same to the Swedes in the gold medal game is nothing short of impressive.

So, now that the most expensive Olympics in history (seriously, $51 billion? And you thought Chicago politics was dirty) is in the books, with Toews, Duncan Keith and Patrick Sharp bringing back gold and Niklas Hjalmarsson, Johnny Oduya and Marcus Krüger claiming silver, the rest of the NHL universe can get back on track for its stretch run to the most prized trophy: The Stanley Cup.

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Jim Crago

Blackhawks Thu Feb 20 2014

USA and Canada Showdown in Olympic Semis

OlympicRings.jpg Of the 10 Blackhawks who packed up and headed for Sochi for the Winter Olympics, just seven remain for a chance at Gold. On Wednesday, Patrick Kane and Team USA beat Michal Rozsíval and the Czech Republic by the final of 5-2 in the quarterfinals.

Just a handful of minutes later, Jonathan Toews, Duncan Keith, Patrick Sharp and Team Canada took down Latvia in a nail-biter by the final of 2-1 at the Bolshoy Ice Dome. Both teams will now face each other on Friday in a rematch of the 2010 Winter games from Vancouver, with the winner taking on either Sweden or Finland for the Gold.

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Jim Crago

Blackhawks Thu Feb 13 2014

Olympic Hockey Opens in Sochi

OlympicRings.jpg Just because the NHL is on break, doesn't mean there's a lack of hockey for which to cheer, regardless of your nationality. The world's greatest tournament began last week with women's hockey dropping the puck in competition and continues through today with the men getting things underway, including the United States.

On the women's side, there really are only two teams of which to speak in terms of battling for the Gold, and that's the U.S. and Canada. There's no love lost between the two, stemming from 2010 when the Canadians took Gold in Vancouver. The Canadians lead the series between the two 10 games to five; however, the U.S. women have taken four out of the last five, with a few scrapes in between.

Nevertheless, the two faced off in preliminary action -- the last before the semifinals begin -- and the Canadians took it by the final of 3-2.

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Jim Crago

Blackhawks Tue Feb 11 2014

Blackhawks at the Break Go for Gold and Rest

Thumbnail image for GB blackhawks icon.png After a pretty successful west-coast trip that returned a 3-1-2 record, the Blackhawks find themselves at the Olympic break with 84 points, tied for second most in the league with divisional rival St. Louis Blues. Now, for the next two weeks, 10 of Joel Quenneville's skaters will represent their respective country in Sochi, Russia, while the rest sip on Mai Tais on much warmer land (Andrew Shaw already seems to have this down).

This is an opportune time for the likes of Bryan Bickell to rest any nagging injuries, and for the coaching staff to reassess any lines that might need tweaking. And although Corey Crawford's snub off Team Canada was a little upsetting, it's a chance for him to take this time to relax and forget about hockey for a little while before the real stretch run to the postseason begins.

As for everyone else, there will be no rest for the weary. Each player made the trip safely, including Patrick Kane, who missed out on the Phoenix Coyotes game in order to attend the funeral of his late grandfather Donald Kane. But before the puck drops for the men's tournament on Wednesday, let's take a look at which Blackhawks players are in, which countries they'll represent and the expectations throughout.

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Jim Crago

Blackhawks Tue Feb 04 2014

Blackhawks' Bickell Feeling Pressure

Thumbnail image for GB blackhawks icon.png Any time consistency breeds success in sports, the expectation is to rely on each athlete to deliver every single day from his or her respective fan base. Sometimes an organization will reward an athlete for exceeding their expected value, especially if it's during the playoffs and most especially if it helps deliver a championship.

More times than not, what follows is the athlete returning to regular form the following season, which always falls below the fan base's expectations, and ultimately creates even more pressure and frustration on the athlete. They are viewed as an over-paid mistake and quickly went from hero to goat in the span of a handful of months. Welcome to the world of Blackhawks' winger Bryan Bickell.

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Jim Crago

Blackhawks Thu Jan 30 2014

Blackhawks' Quenneville Moves to Third All-time

Thumbnail image for GB blackhawks icon.png Wednesday night's 5-2 win over the Vancouver Canucks at Rogers Arena marked not one, but two very important moments for the Blackhawks this season. The first was getting off the schnide from the team's longest losing streak in two years; the second was the team catapulting its coach into third place all-time in coaching victories.

Both markers derived from seemingly long journeys, but ultimately were inevitable. Mid-season blues are hard to shake for any team and the Blackhawks, with the help from everyone's favorite goalie in Roberto Luongo, got back on the winning track by scoring four goals off five shots in the second period alone. The result also made a certain mustachioed leader the top-three all-time in NHL coaching victories.

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Jim Crago

Blackhawks Mon Jan 27 2014

A Long and Winding Road Ahead for the Blackhawks

Thumbnail image for GB blackhawks icon.png The Winnipeg Jets flew into Chicago Sunday night, which was to be the Blackhawks' last home game until Tuesday, March 4, when they host the Colorado Avalanche (Winter Classic against the Penguins on Saturday, March 1, not included). With a west-coast swing upcoming and 10 players heading to Sochi afterwards, Blackhawks fans will be relegated to watching their team from afar.

A win against the worst team in the division would be a great sendoff, especially coming off of back-to-back losses -- a 5-4 shootout loss to the Red Wings and a 2-1 loss to the Minnesota Wild -- and just before collecting thousands of air miles between O'Hare and just off the coast of the Black Sea. As it would turn out, a few old and familiar faces decided to spoil the going-away party.

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Jim Crago

Blackhawks Thu Jan 23 2014

Blackhawks Renew Red Wings Rivalry

Thumbnail image for GB blackhawks icon.png It seems just like yesterday the Blackhawks and Red Wings tangled in an epic seven-game series in the Western Conference semis, which alone cleared Pepto-Bismol from the shelves of every Dominick's store in town. You remember the players: Abdelkader, Nyquist, Kronwall, Zetterberg -- just to name a handful -- gave most everyone watching at home nightmares by the mere mention of their names from Doc Emerick calling the action.

In the end, the Blackhawks won Game 7 by the final of 2-1 in OT off a Brent Seabrook blast, which put the Blackhawks in the Western Finals, sent the fans home in a daze and ended the Red Wings season and place in the Western Conference. Most didn't want to see the series end, just like they didn't want to see the Blackhawks' oldest rival move to the Eastern Conference, which meant only two games per season.

Would the rivalry die off? Would games against the 11-time Stanley Cup champs mean any less? Would the intensity on the ice cool off with each and every passing game amongst the players? Not any time soon, as it would seem, as both teams picked right back up Wednesday night at the Joe from where they left off last June. Call it Game 8.

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Jim Crago

Blackhawks Mon Jan 20 2014

Blackhawks Finally Finding Ways to Close Out Games

Thumbnail image for GB blackhawks icon.png Alec Baldwin's character Blake in the 1992 movie Glengarry Glen Ross gave a legendary motivational speech to the real estate sales team by mentioning to Shelley Levene, "coffee's for closers." In fact, the entire office was fired and they had one week to get their jobs back by simply selling: first place was a Cadillac El Dorado; second place, a set of steak knives; third place, no job. Blake had their attention, and the team at Rio Rancho Estates got right back at it.

The Blackhawks were in a similar funk of sorts, finding it tough to close out games while having a lead, or falling at the end of overtime or a shootout. Granted, no one is going to get fired from the defending Stanley Cup champs (a case certainly could be made for Nikolai Khabibulin or Michal Handzuš), but it's a safe bet Joel Quenneville's post-game locker room speeches might have been ripped from the sheets of David Mamet's play as away to "motivate" the team.

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Jim Crago

Blackhawks Tue Jan 14 2014

One Year Later, Blackhawks Close to 2013 Pace

Thumbnail image for GB blackhawks icon.png When the Blackhawks opened the 2013 lockout-shortened season in Los Angeles nearly one year ago, they began what eventually would be a record-breaking streak of consecutive games without a regulation loss. Forty-seven games later, the Blackhawks finished with the league's best record of 36-7-5 for 77 points, collected the Presidents' Trophy and made its way through the Stanley Cup playoffs, eventually winning its fifth championship in franchise history.

Fast-forward a year later -- thankfully with no lockout of which to speak -- and Joel Quenneville's squad finds itself 48 games into a full season and almost at the same pace as last year's epic run. After sweeping away the Oilers Sunday night in the season series finale, the Blackhawks crossed the 48-game threshold at 30-8-10 for 70 points. The point total is down seven, but certainly isn't from a decline in the level of talent on the ice; in fact, the Blackhawks look better than ever.

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Jim Crago

Blackhawks Wed Jan 08 2014

Blackhawks' Future Shines Brightly at World Juniors

Thumbnail image for GB blackhawks icon.png As the Winter Olympics approach next month with 10 Blackhawks making the trip to Sochi, it's time to reflect on a tournament that just ended in Sweden that featured the bright talents of the NHL's future in the 2104 World Junior Championship.

The main tournament features national players, all under the age of 20, from the top 10 hockey nations around the world. And what began in 1977 has blossomed into a must-see competition amongst the "who's who" of up-and-comers.

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Jim Crago

Blackhawks Tue Jan 07 2014

Red Hot Sharp Earns Spot on Team Canada

Thumbnail image for GB blackhawks icon.png Patrick Sharp always claimed that his recent hot play was to better the Blackhawks and was not an audition for Team Canada for the 2014 Winter Olympics. He felt his selection was out of his hands and that whatever happened, so be it.

Over the last two weeks, Sharp has lit up almost every goalie in the NHL, clawing his way to second in goals scored with 25, only six behind leader Alex Ovechkin of the Washington Capitals. He's scored two hat tricks in the span of five games and is sporting a plus-22 at the halfway point of the season. Team Canada general manager Steve Yzerman would have to be insane not to select the hottest player on the planet in favor of someone else.

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Jim Crago

Blackhawks Thu Jan 02 2014

Kane to Represent United States in Sochi

Thumbnail image for GB blackhawks icon.png If you happened to catch the annual Winter Classic on NBC yesterday afternoon, you witnessed two Original Six teams in the Detroit Red Wings and Toronto Maple Leafs play in front of a capacity crowd at the Big House in Ann Arbor, MI (the Leafs won it in a shootout, 3-2). And just like the Winter Classic four years ago in Fenway Park, the league and network asked viewers to stick around for the unveiling of Team USA for the Olympic Games, this year to be held in Sochi, Russia.

Most of the 104,000 fans in the Big House New Year's Day decided to head for warmer territory and catch the highlights at home, while the rest of us at home continued to stay tuned to hear Patrick Kane's name be announced -- really just a formality -- and see which other Blackhawks would represent the Red, White and Blue come next month in Sochi.

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Jim Crago

Blackhawks Fri Dec 27 2013

Kane Racking Up Points in a Season for the Ages

Thumbnail image for GB blackhawks icon.png It wasn't all that long ago when Patrick Kane was the poster boy for partying with co-eds and bumbling around in a drunken stupor through the streets of whatever town he visited. It was cute and at times blown off as, "Hey, he's a young kid with a ton of money. Who wouldn't do this?" We all said it, and even followed it with, "Let the kid have his fun, because, ultimately, he's going to show up on the ice and help lead this team to another Stanley Cup." Kane certainly had his fun off the ice, but ultimately was wasting away his talents on it.

The two seasons in between least year's championship run became a mirror on the ice of Kane's antics off: stumbling over his own two feet. Then, something clicked inside Kane's head. Whether or not it was his family intervening or captain Jonathan Toews putting a boot in his rear end, Kane responded and now Blackhawks fans, as well as the rest of the NHL, are witnessing the talent, skill level and just general excitement not seen in this city since Michael Jordan was at his peak in the United Center.

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Jim Crago

Blackhawks Tue Dec 17 2013

Raanta Taking Lumps & Earning Respect In Net

Thumbnail image for GB blackhawks icon.png A goaltender is a lot like a relief pitcher in that they both need to remain focused, have pinpoint accuracy and, most important of all, they need to have a short memory. Any kind of cage rattling by the opposition or bad goals let up need to be cleared away like ice shavings by a Zamboni in between periods.

And just like a relief pitcher, quarterback, etc., a goaltender is going to have a bad game at some point during the season. It's almost inevitable that the defense is going to have an off night and the offense is shut down -- either out of sync or just the result of bad bounces from the puck. It's not the one bad game used to measure a goalie, but more so the following and subsequent games that are judged in how they are able to adjust.

Blackhawks goalie Antti Raanta had his bad outing against the Toronto Maple Leafs on December 14, giving up five goals in just two periods (The Blackhawks eventually would lose by the final of 7-3.) It was the backup's worst game in the NHL to date after starting 5-0-1, and the biggest question amongst Blackhawks fans was how the Finnish star was going to rebound while starter Corey Crawford remained sidelined with a lower-body injury.

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Jim Crago

Hockey Fri Dec 13 2013

A Certain Kind of Crazy: the Chicago Outdoor Hockey League

COHL.png There's something to be said about hockey players and what it takes to fly around on the ice with minimal padding, all while slapping at a puck with a stick. Actually, there are quite a few things that can be said but there's only so much room in this space.

The bottom line is that it takes a certain kind of crazy to strap on a pair of skates, and a special talent level to do it successfully -- and that's just on a rat-league level, not AHL or even NHL skill levels. So, when one covers the Blackhawks for a certain hyper-local content website, the obvious thing to do is join a local hockey league in order to put oneself into the mind of a hockey player. Like I said, a certain kind of crazy.

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Jim Crago

Blackhawks Wed Dec 11 2013

Blackhawks Focused On One Goal With Four Goalies

Thumbnail image for GB blackhawks icon.png Back when Antti Raanta was signed by the Blackhawks on June 3, in the middle of the team's playoff run to its fifth title, the thought then was to slowly groom the 24-year-old Finnish star and get him acclimated to the dimensions of NHL rinks and speed level of NHL talent. Six months later, Raanta finds himself spelling Corey Crawford and stonewalling the competition to a 4-0-1 record with a 2.14 goals against average and .924 save percentage.

Raanta has played well, including a nice performance against the Dallas Stars on December 10, stopping 27 of 29 shots, which led to a 6-2 Blackhawks win. It helped that the defense, Brent Seabrook mainly, had a better game in their own zone by way of clearing the puck and cutting down on turnovers, but credit Raanta with stepping up in a pinch while Crawford rests his lower-body injury for the next two to three weeks.

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Jim Crago

Blackhawks Thu Dec 05 2013

Fighting In the NHL & Whether or Not It's Necessary

Thumbnail image for GB blackhawks icon.png It wasn't a question of "if" but more so "when" Dallas Stars' winger Antoine Roussel was going to have to face retaliation from any one of the Blackhawks over his hit on Patrick Kane, stemming from Chicago's 2-1 shootout win in Dallas on November 29. Then, with 4 minutes, 54 seconds left in the first period of their Tuesday rematch, Andrew Shaw threw his gloves to the ice just as the puck dropped between Kris Versteeg and Vernon Fiddler. Roussel shed his gear just as quickly, and the two traded a whirlwind of direct shots to each other's heads reminiscent to Black Friday shoppers entering their local Walmart.

The capacity crowd at the United Center rose to its feet and watched as Shaw battled back after first having his red sweater pulled over his head while swinging blindly at Roussel, only then to regain composure and connect on three direct shots to Roussel's jaw. The linesmen, Andy McElman (#90) and Vaughan Rody (#73), intervened as best they could while the two continued to pound away at one another.

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Jim Crago / Comments (3)

Blackhawks Mon Dec 02 2013

Successful Road Trip Catapults Blackhawks On Top In West

Thumbnail image for GB blackhawks icon.png Two weeks ago today, the Blackhawks were bound for its annual circus trip out west, which meant seven games in 12 nights. The defending champs were tied with the Anaheim Ducks for most points in the West with 32, and all eyes were looking towards game one of the trip against the Avs in Colorado.

The 5-1 loss against Patrick Roy's squad was hard to swallow in kicking things off, especially with all the controversy surrounding goalie Semyon Varlamov and wanting to pour on as many goals against as possible. But after the dust had settled and turkey and stuffing digested, the Blackhawks found themselves back in the comfort of their own beds, resting from jet lag off its most successful road trip in recent memory.

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Jim Crago

Blackhawks Mon Nov 25 2013

Blackhawks Giving Many Chicagoans A Reason For Saying Thanks

Thumbnail image for GB blackhawks icon.png It's been a rough go of things here in the city of big shoulders as of late to say the least. The Cubs' rebuilding effort has everyone asking how much longer the aches and pains will continue. All the while, the constant battle as to whether or not owner Tom Ricketts can place signage on his stadium while pleasing rooftop owners is enough drive anyone crazy who pays attention.

The White Sox are coming off a season in which they lost 99 games; the Bears can't stop anyone with half an offense; and Derrick Rose tore his medial meniscus in his right knee and is officially out for the rest of the season.

Our city is broke, the Ventra card is a joke, and the Willis Tower got beat out for tallest in the country, which sparked a beat down towards our deep dish pizza on The Daily Show. It's cold, it's dark and there's no hope in sight for anything to get us excited about again to raise those proud broad shoulders. Thank goodness for the Blackhawks.

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Jim Crago

Blackhawks Tue Nov 19 2013

Blackhawks Hit The Road For Annual Circus Trip

Thumbnail image for GB blackhawks icon.png It's that time of year again, Blackhawks fans. When the brown leaves begin to blanket the frosted ground below and the Ringling Brothers, along with Barnum and Bailey, make their way to the west side with exotic tigers and elephants held against their will. It only can mean one thing for the defending Stanley Cup champions: road trip!

For the next two weeks, the Blackhawks will take their high-flying act on a West coast, southwest swing, which starts tonight in Colorado against the suddenly cold Avalanche. Both teams are two of the top-five in scoring in the entire league with the Blackhawks first at 3.57 goals per game and the Avalanche fifth at 3.10 goals per game.

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Jim Crago

Blackhawks Fri Nov 15 2013

Versteeg and Blackhawks Reunite

Thumbnail image for GB blackhawks icon.png After spending three season with the Blackhawks from 2007 to just after the 2010 championship season, Kris Versteeg was sent packing to the Toronto Maple Leafs for Viktor Stålberg, Chris DiMonenico and Phillipe Paradis as a way to make cap room from then general manager Dale Tallon's free spending ways. Since then, Tallon was relieved of his duties and was hired by the Florida Panthers, he reacquired Versteeg in 2011, and has now sent him packing again -- but this time back to the Blackhawks.

The "Steeger" is back in town, just in time for both he and Patrick Kane to rekindle their bromance during the upcoming circus trip next week -- shirts optional. In return, the dismal Florida Panthers get forward Jimmy Hayes and defenseman Dylan Olsen. In addition to Versteeg, the Blackhawks also receive forward Phillipe Lefebvre. The team retroactively reassigned Jeremy Morin and Terry Broadhurst to Rockford.

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Jim Crago

Bears Wed Nov 13 2013

Review: 100 Things Bears Fans Should Know & Do Before They Die

100-Things-Bears-Fans-Should-Know-Do-Before-They-Die-Paperback-P9781600784125.jpg Ask any Bears fan within a 50-mile radius of the 312 area code to expound upon their favorite memory he or she has about the Monsters of the Midway, and chances are they'll mention any one of the 100 items listed in Kent McDill's new book, "100 Things Bears Fans Should Know & Do Before They Die."

It's all in there, listed numerically in the contents section, seemingly ranked from most significant (#1. Papa Bear) to least (#100. Punters) and everything in between that everyone already should know, but, heck, should take the time to re-read and swell with emotion like a plumped-up brat sizzling away at a tailgate.

McDill, who covered the Bears from 1999 to 2007 for the Daily Herald, brings on Bears' radio play-by-play commentator Jeff Joniak to write the Foreword and mentions that the passion some 4.6 million Chicagoans feel for this team is a "generational bond, handed down from one decade to the next." To dig a little deeper into the psyche of the team-and-fanbase cohesive bond, the makeup of the Bears throughout the years embodies the hardworking, blue-collar approach that mirrors the day-in, day-out "Grabowskis" in the stands or at home watching and cheering along. We all are "Superfans" and this book is our reference point.

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Jim Crago

Blackhawks Mon Nov 11 2013

Blackhawks Finding the Road Well-Traveled

Thumbnail image for GB blackhawks icon.png It seems lately that no matter wherever it is the Blackhawks go, fans come out in droves to watch. Sure, there's the throngs of thousands that pack the United Center each time the team takes to the ice (227 consecutive sellouts coming into the 2013-'14 season), but how about the representation while coach Quenneville's crew takes to the road each and every time?

As of late, whenever the Blackhawks don the white sweater and fire up the family truckster, the love and support that appears within the walls of enemy territory is unlike that of most other teams in the league. Chants of "Let's go Hawks!" begin to smatter about an arena until it swells in unison, only to be drowned out by angry locals booing at the tops of their lungs.

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Jim Crago

Blackhawks Tue Nov 05 2013

White House Visit Culminates 2013 Blackhawks Season

Thumbnail image for GB blackhawks icon.png After the Blackhawks defeated the Edmonton Oilers 4-1 late last season on April 24, they locked up the Presidents' Trophy for the first time in 22 years. Back then, the Minnesota North Stars quickly brought Mike Keenan's team back down to earth with a first-round upset, and that alone was enough to remind Blackhawks fans that no trophy awarded prior to June should matter.

That 1991 team, albeit talented, was unable to finish the goal it set out at the beginning of the season; the 2013 team, albeit rebuilt from a championship three years prior, was able to stay focused and followed through from the Presidents' Trophy to a meeting with President Barack Obama.

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Jim Crago

Blackhawks Fri Nov 01 2013

Toews Heads Home to Winnipeg for the First Time

Thumbnail image for GB blackhawks icon.pngThey say that no matter wherever it is you go, you can always come back home. That will be the case for Blackhawks' captain Jonathan Toews, as he and his team head north of the border for a Saturday matinée in Manitoba to open up the month of November after closing out a pretty successful October

This will mark the first time in Toews' career that he will compete on a professional level in his hometown Winnipeg, which surely will provide mixed emotions for all parties involved. If you're a parent, sibling, close friend -- heck, even ex-girlfriend -- of one of the marquee players in the NHL, who happens to be making his triumphant return on your home ice, do you sport the iconic sweater from Chicago with the number 19 on your back or stay true to your team by wearing the Jets logo? All bets are on for a sea of red and signs reading "Welcome Home" at the MTS Centre Saturday afternoon.

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Jim Crago

Blackhawks Thu Oct 31 2013

Hat Trick and Treat for Toews But 'Bulin Scary in Net

Thumbnail image for GB blackhawks icon.png The Blackhawks closed out the month of October with an 8-2-3 record after Jonathan Toews notched his third career hat trick, which helped his team overcome the Ottawa Senators Tuesday night by the final of 6-5. Nikolai "do svidaniya" Khabibulin was yanked halfway through the second period after giving up his fourth goal of the evening, tenth goal in his last two games, which prompted coach Quenneville to call on Corey Crawford to save the day.

The game was a microcosm of the first month of the season, which saw lead changes, lack of faith in back-up goaltending and a flurry of offense from the good guys when needed. A few questions that came about regarding the Blackhawks this early on included what to do with 36-year-old Michal Handzuš at second-line center. With Brandon Pirri playing well on the fourth line, it seemed only a matter of time before Quenneville made the switch -- and that has happened with early returns.

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Jim Crago

Blackhawks Mon Oct 28 2013

Pirri Gets Line Promotion With Handzuš Ailing

Thumbnail image for GB blackhawks icon.png It only was a matter of time before head coach Joel Quenneville made the move, but tonight Brandon Pirri will get a chance to skate for the Blackhawks as the team's second-line center in Minnesota. The Blackhawks are coming off a 5-3 loss Saturday night at home against the Wild, and within that loss came an upper-body injury to Handzuš that will have him watching from the sidelines tonight and more than likely tomorrow night back at home against Ottawa.

According to Comcast SportsNet's Tracey Myers (@TramyersCSN), the morning skate lines at the Xcel Energy Center were paired up as Sharp-Toews-Hossa; Saad-Pirri-Kane; Bickell-Shaw-Morin; Bollig-Kruger-Smith/Mills. Usually, the morning lines are an early indication as to how the lines will look later in the evening. With that said, Pirri will get his first look at second-line center for the Blackhawks and will look to make the most of the situation.

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Jim Crago

Blackhawks Fri Oct 25 2013

Bishop Bad for Lightning, Khabi Slightly Worse for Blackhawks

Thumbnail image for GB blackhawks icon.png Hopefully whatever was in the drinking water in Tampa Bay was sweat out onto the ice last night. Eleven goals after three periods, plus an extra 1 minute, 16 seconds into overtime, made for some exciting and somewhat predictable viewing last night.

The Blackhawks gained another point on the panhandle/mom trip, but leave only with three out of the four potential points spread out on the table for them, no thanks to some iffy goaltending from Nikolai Khabibulin. The "Bulin Wall" had a few mouse holes in it last night, after allowing six goals against a high-potent offense, which had Blackhawks fans asking, "Where's Ray Emery?"

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Jim Crago

Blackhawks Wed Oct 23 2013

Losing Late Leads Becoming Dangerous Trend for Blackhawks

Thumbnail image for GB blackhawks icon.png The Blackhawks had to fight its way to get two points after a 3-2 shootout win last night at the BB&T Center against the Florida Panthers, which didn't seem likely back at the end of the second period. But after Tomáš Fleischmann and Dmitri Kulikov fired shots past Corey Crawford within 2 minutes, 47 seconds of each other, with less than 10 minutes left in the game, it marked a running theme of giving up late leads in games that has haunted coach Joel Quenneville's team once again.

For the fifth time out of nine games this season, the Blackhawks have given up a lead either late into the second period or deep into the third, with four of those games being decided by a shootout (the Blackhawks are 2-2 in those shootout games). It's surely an exciting way to go through the regular season, but one that cannot continue if this team has any plans of partying in Grant Park again in June.

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Jim Crago

Blackhawks Tue Oct 22 2013

Blackhaws Looking for More Sunshine on Panhandle Trip

Thumbnail image for GB blackhawks icon.png For the first time this season, the Blackhawks will play back-to-back games on the road after running through six of their first eight at home (5-1-2). This trip involves heading south in the newly-formed Atlantic division to face both the Florida Panthers tonight and Tampa Bay Lightning Thursday.

The Blackhawks already faced the Lightning a few weeks ago in a 3-2 shootout loss at home, but haven't seen the Panthers since a 3-1 January 20, 2012 win at home. With last year's lockout, each NHL team stayed within its respective conference for games played, which now makes it seem like more than a decade ago since last visiting our friends from the south. And much like the last time around, the Blackhawks should continue its dominant play.

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Jim Crago

Windy City Rollers Mon Oct 21 2013

WCR All-Stars Beat Detroit in Final Regular Season Bout

Athena DeCrime swears she's not a crier. Perhaps not, but that didn't stop the tears from flowing Saturday night.

Athena DeCrime, one of the original members of the Windy City Rollers, played the last home bout of a 9-year career with the league Saturday night and helped lead WCR's A-team, the All-Stars, to a 240-127 victory over the Detroit Derby Girls. The victory, she said, was made even more special by the fact that not only was Saturday the last bout of the regular season, but it was also WCR Alumni Night and many former WCR skaters were in the crowd.

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Bill Mayeroff

Blackhawks Mon Oct 14 2013

Playing Khabibulin is All the Confidence Crawford Needs

Thumbnail image for GB blackhawks icon.png There are some people in the Twitter-verse, mostly fans, who still doubt the goaltending capabilities of Corey Crawford and question whether or not he has the mindset to protect a lead for another Cup run. The latest version of this debate started right after Alexander Steen of the St. Louis Blues scored the game-winning goal with 21 seconds left in regulation to beat the Blackhawks 3-2 last week.

Forget the fact that Brent Seabrook labored over to Alex Pietrangelo and missed badly, which started the three-on-one break. To some, it was Crawford's miss in the end, and now this franchise is stuck with him after paying him a king's ransom of $36 million over the next six years.

Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you Exhibit A of why you should calm your fears and have faith in Crawford, simply because of the alternative along the bench: Nikolai Khabibulin.

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Jim Crago / Comments (1)

Blackhawks Thu Oct 10 2013

Blackhawks Let Point Slip Away In "New Rivalry"

Thumbnail image for GB blackhawks icon.png With all the "new rivalry" talk leading into last night's game in St. Louis between the Blackhawks and Blues, one would think think these two teams just started playing each other. Playing the Detroit Red Wings in the same division for a stretch has that effect on people. But in fact these two teams have played with about as much vitriol for one-another over the years that penning it as "new" is like saying Jonathan Toews is good at hockey.

Nevertheless, these two teams will be the measuring stick all season in the division. And after all the hype coming into the third game on the schedule, the Blackhawks took to the road for the first time, hoping to make good off a lost opportunity at home last Saturday night against the Tampa Bay Lightning -- a game which they lost 3-2 in a shootout.

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Jim Crago

Bears Tue Oct 08 2013

Rereading Duerson eBook On Eve Of PBS Documentary

Duerson: Triumph, Trauma and Tragedy in the NFL The National Football League has become such a massive, multi-billion dollar marketing freight train over the last decade that none of the other stateside major sports come close. According to CNNMoney, the league is tops in revenue, tipping the scale at a modest $9.5 billion last year, all while showcasing household names like Cutler, Suh and Brady.

It's the sport mom never wanted you to play, worried that her little man would get dinged in the ear hole on a sweep to the right, all while trying to make the cut by making a name for himself. If you took a hard hit and lumbered toward the sideline, you were asked to "shake off the cobwebs" and to get back in the game.

As time went by and science began to catch up with the sport, many surrounding the game discovered that merely shaking off the cobwebs wasn't a cure that could be defined by the New England Journal of Medicine, and instead meant something was very, very wrong with the athlete who suddenly didn't know where he was. Tragically, some of those athletes never recovered after multiple blows to the head and ended up hurting themselves and the ones they loved. Dave Duerson was one of those former athletes.

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Jim Crago

Blackhawks Tue Oct 08 2013

Blackhawks Struck By Lightning, Now Eye Blues

Thumbnail image for GB blackhawks icon.png It seemed so hard to believe at the time, so unfathomable that such a stat ever could have existed. But after checking the line over and over again, it was indeed true that the visiting Tampa Bay Lightning were held without taking one single shot on goal after the first period in Saturday night's game at the United Center.

That's right. After the first 20 minutes, the Blackhawks fired 12 shots against goalie Ben Bishop while the Lightning sent over zero to Corey Crawford. It's the first time since December 4, 1946, that the Blackhawks last performed this feat, which happened to be against our buddies the Detroit Red Wings. In fact, the first shot Crawford saw wasn't until 1 minute, 22 seconds into the second period, just after Patrick Kane gave the Blackhawks a 1-0 lead with his second goal of the season.

Knowing that, and the fact the Blackhawks won the overall shot battle, 39-16, it would have been pretty clear to anyone who instead decided to stick with the Northwestern-Ohio State game that this one was going to be a clear snoozer. Just pack the bags for next Wednesday to the Scottrade Center, roll out the contestants for "Shoot the Puck" and take me home. Well, unfortunately, that's not how things wound up after the shootout ended.

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Jim Crago

Chicago Thu Oct 03 2013

ESPN GameDay Comes To Northwestern For Battle Against Buckeyes

Northwestern_Wildcats.jpg After defensive lineman Quentin Williams sacked Mississippi State quarterback Tyler Russell at the Gator Bowl on New Year's Day, January 1, 2013, it sealed the first bowl win in over 60 years for the Northwestern Wildcats and made coach Pat Fitzgerald jump into the arms of a few of his players along the sideline, wiping away tears of joy and purple Gatorade. He had done it -- the former Wildcats linebacker had come back to his academic roots to lead his team to a bowl victory not seen since the Truman administration.

For the next few weeks, proud alumni dusted off their purple scarves, sweaters and ski caps and walked with a little extra giddy-up in their step to work, while flashing a wink and a nod at anyone in orange. Not since the Gary Barnett-led Cats of the mid-1990s has there been this much hype over a Northwestern team that, more times than not, has backed it up on the gridiron.

The offseason came, and with it began more work for coach Fitz in preparation for a follow-up act to the success of 2012 -- certainly a hard act to follow. Eventually, the new season kicked off and the Wildcats jumped to a 4-0 start with wins over Cal, Syracuse, Western Michigan and Maine, thus earning rank of sixteenth in the polls. But as in the university's motto, "Quaecumque Sunt Vera," ("Whatsoever things are true"), now begins a stretch run of the truest test of all: games against conference foes from within the Big 10. And at the onset of this tough test is the toughest of them all: the fourth-ranked Buckeyes of Ohio State.

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Jim Crago

Blackhawks Wed Oct 02 2013

Blackhawks Shut Down Washington

Thumbnail image for GB blackhawks icon.png It was a grand old party at the United Center last night, as the Blackhawks raised its fifth banner, saluted those who made it possible, as well as the fans, and dropped the puck on the 2013-'14 season. After what seemed only like yesterday that Dave Bolland tossed his gloves like they were on fire, the champs laced 'em up for real and tried to prevent the Capitals from spoiling the love fest.

Winning at home after raising a championship banner hasn't been easy for the past few winners. The Blackhawks spoiled the party for the Los Angeles Kings last season, the Bruins fell to the Flyers for their home opener, and the Red Wings doused water on the party for the Blackhawks in 2010. With that said, and not to mention all the glitz and glamour that came with all the pre-game ceremonies and resized contracts for Corey Crawford and Bryan Bickell, how would this team respond to the pressures of satisfying the masses?

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Jim Crago

Blackhawks Tue Oct 01 2013

Blackhawks Draw Back Curtain For Opening Night

Thumbnail image for GB blackhawks icon.png It seems just like old times again, doesn't it? Regular season hockey once again is upon us, and the Stanley Cup defending champion Chicago Blackhawks open up at home against Alexander Ovechkin and the Washington Capitals. But just before the puck drops, a little bit of business is due.

For the fifth time in team history, and the first time since Saturday, October 9, 2010, when the Red Wings came to town to spoil matters, the Blackhawks will raise a banner to the rafters to mark excellence from the previous season. And just as the champagne finally came to dry on Lord Stanley, and Corey Crawford sobered up, in what was the shortest off season ever, coach Joel Quenneville's squad will look to do better than last time around when they came into a season with a target on their backs.

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Jim Crago

The Outfit Sat Sep 28 2013

Outfit Loses in First Round of Playoffs

The Syndicate, the A-team of the Chicago Outfit, lost in the first round of the Women's Flat Track Derby Association Division One playoffs Friday.

Tammy Tsiones, who skates for the Syndicate under the name Pippi Long Smackings, said the Syndicate lost to the Victorian Roller Derby League of Melbourne, Australia, 304-115.

The loss means the Syndicate will not be going to the WFTDA championships in Milwaukee in November.

Bill Mayeroff

The Outfit Fri Sep 27 2013

Outfit Ready to Roll in Salem

When she joined the Chicago Outfit less than a year ago, Tammy Tsiones didn't think she'd be playing roller derby on an international stage so soon.

But Tsiones, who now skates for the Outfit's A-team, the Syndicate, as Pippi Long Smackings, is doing just that.

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Bill Mayeroff

Baseball Thu Sep 26 2013

As The Ivy Fades In Wrigley So Does G. Heileman's Finest

As the long hot summer afternoons fade gently into the short crisp autumnal dusk, so goes the iconic ivy in Wrigley Field on Clark and Addison. What starts naked and vulnerable upon the red brick in the outfield, where the likes of Moreland, Pafko and Sosa once chased flies, slowly begins to turn to an effervescent green through the dog days, until finally a yellowish-red-brown combination, unfortunately not witnessed very often by the players or fans within the Friendly Confines.

This circle of life breeds optimism amongst the Cubbie faithful, lo these decades, with the metaphoric: there always will be baseball, just as the ivy will be reborn, grow and then die off with the season itself, only to return once again.

The same generations who shared the highs and lows of this merry-go-round also have done so with buying scorecards and Cracker Jacks for their sons and daughters, while enjoying an ice-cold beer and basking in the suns' rays. As the sweat begins to bead on your forehead, so forms the condensation on the outside of that 16-ounce cup and drips to the peanut shell-covered concrete.

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Jim Crago

Blackhawks Tue Sep 24 2013

Blackhawks Trim Roster Size to 28

Thumbnail image for GB blackhawks icon.png With just a week to go until NHL teams need to set its opening-day roster size to 23, the Blackhawks made some headway by getting its team down to 28. The last few weeks have been a make-or-break trial period for many of the fresh faces (and even some older ones) to stay east of Rockford and into the everyday lineup for the defending Stanley Cup champs.

Just yesterday, according to the team's site, the Blackhawks sent forwards Mark McNeil, Garret Ross and Alex Broadhurst; defensemen Dylan Olsen, Klas Dahlbeck and Adam Clendening; and goaltender Kent Simpson to Rockford. Much-talked about forward Teuvo Teräväinen was sent to Jokerit of SM-liiga in Finland while forward Ryan Hartman was sent over to the OHL's Plymouth Whalers; Viktor Svedberg was released from camp.

That brought the roster size to 36, but in the past 24 hours, the team trimmed even more to fall in line with NHL regulations.

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Jim Crago

Basketball Mon Sep 23 2013

Top Chicago 2015 Recruit Charles Matthews Gives Us His List

While college basketball fans are still waiting on word from many of the 2014 class to choose their schools (cough, cough, Cliff Alexander), the class of 2015 recruitment mania has began. Charles Matthews, guard at St. Rita High School and ESPN's #9 recruit for 2015 tweeted us his prospect list over the weekend.

As you can probably observe, Matthews tweets his list alphabetically, but since I'm (full disclosure) an Illini fan, I'm dreaming that Matthews will want to stay close to home and join Coach Groce in Champaign.

Matthews is 1 of 8 Chicago recruits from the 2015 class to start watching now as they begin their junior seasons.

Melinda McIntire

Blackhawks Mon Sep 23 2013

Blackhawks Continue to Tune-up for Regular Season

Thumbnail image for GB blackhawks icon.png How quickly time flies when the good times roll. After four games through the NHL pre-season, the Blackhawks are looking every bit the part as defending Stanley Cup champions.

After disposing of the Detroit Red Wings Sunday afternoon by the final of 4-3, coach Quenneville's crew took its record to 3-0-1, with only two games left against the Pittsburgh Penguins and Washington Capitals before kicking off the regular season. During these last few weeks of practice play, the Blackhawks auditioned young talent for roster spots and hoped to solidify its anemic power-play woes and wins at the dot.

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Jim Crago

Windy City Rollers Mon Sep 23 2013

WCR All-Stars Heading to WFTDA Championships

The Windy City Rollers All-Stars narrowly beat the Minnesota RollerGirls Sunday to secure a spot in November's Women's Flat Track Derby Association championships and a shot at the coveted Hydra trophy.

According to Derby News Network, the All-Stars beat Minnesota 160-154 to take 3rd place in the WFTDA Division 1 playoffs in Asheville, N.C. The All-Stars beat Madison's Dairyland Dolls in the first round of playoff action Friday, but lost to the Rocky Mountain Rollergirls 150-133 on Saturday to send them into the 3rd place game against Minnesota.

In the playoff championship game Sunday, Rocky Mountain lost to last year's Hydra winner, Gotham Girls Roller Derby, 216-99.

Bill Mayeroff

College Teams Wed Sep 18 2013

Will Chicago Native Ahmad Starks Play in 2013-14?

Ahmad Starks.jpg Chicago native and Whitney Young alum, Ahmad Starks, announced last May he was transferring to Illinois from Oregon State to be closer to his ailing grandmother here in Chicago.

Starks submitted a family hardship waiver to the NCAA for eligibility to play in the 2013-14 year. Without the family hardship waiver, he'll have to follow NCAA rules to sit out a year before donning an Illini uniform. We've been waiting almost four months to hear of Starks' fate, and the Champaign Room reports that Starks expects to hear something within the next 10 days.

Basketball season is creeping upon us and Tom Fornelli of the Champaign Room makes this point:

If Starks doesn't get the waiver and is forced to sit out this season, the Illini are oversigned for the 2014-15 season. Which means somebody will have to go -- and maybe two if Cliff Alexander makes dreams come true.

Let's pray the NCAA gods/judgement makers are on Starks' and the Illini's side.

Melinda McIntire

Blackhawks Wed Sep 18 2013

Blackhawks Shutout Wings in Pre-season Opener

Thumbnail image for GB blackhawks icon.pngFinally, the time has arrived for full competition against an opponent who doesn't happen to share the same locker room and training staff. The Blackhawks opened up pre-season play last night against the Detroit Red Wings at the United Center, and skated away with a 2-0 victory.

Corey Crawford stopped all 19 shots he faced and earned the game's first star. Patrick Sharp snapped a shot passed backup goalie Jonas "The Monster" Gustavsson at 16 minutes, 37 seconds in the second period, while Ben Smith scored on a wrister just 1 minute, 9 seconds later.

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Jim Crago

Blackhawks Tue Sep 17 2013

Mad Dash to a New Season

Thumbnail image for GB blackhawks icon.png It's been 85 days since the Blackhawks raised Lord Stanley at TD Garden back on June 24, after winning Game 6 against the Boston Bruins. Eighty-five champagne-filled, beer-swilling, Cup-toting, finger-wagging days that had this city dreaming of more championships down the road with what looks like a dynasty on paper and what feels like a renewed sense of pride.

As summer was ready to swing into full gear 85 days ago, the city of Chicago was on top of the hockey world. Now, those days of bragging rights are gone, swept over like a Zamboni between periods for a fresh start, as quickly as the 17 seconds it took to get us there.

There's no looking back now as training camp has come and gone and scrimmaging wrapped up to give way to the official preseason. To mark the beginning of a new and full 82-game season, the Blackhawks, in relation with UnitedHealthcare and Fresh Wave Sport, held the "Mad Dash to Madison" 10K skate and 5K run/walk to get the fans ready for another successful run at the Cup.

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Jim Crago

Chicago Tue Sep 17 2013

Fishing Along the Walls of Lake Michigan

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As the length of daylight shortens from sunrise to sunset by a minute or two each day, so gives way the warmth of summer for the whisk of an autumnal breeze. Aside from dressing a little warmer, mid-September in Chicago means everyone already is complaining about the Bears (or perhaps making Super Bowl plans), the ivy at Wrigley is beginning to turn light brown and the Bulls and Blackhawks are preparing for training camp.

The rough waters that come with being a sports fan in this town, sans the recent success of the Blackhawks, make for a long year, especially as summer comes to an end. But the beginning of fall means the salmon are running to spawn along the rough waters of Lake Michigan, and the breakwalls are lined with those looking to cast and cash in.

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Jim Crago

College Teams Fri Sep 13 2013

Chicago Forward Cliff Alexander to Visit Illinois

Just last night, top point guard Quentin Snider announced in a press conference he would be joining Coach Groce and the Illini in Champaign. This is a big gain for the Illini, and one of the top Chicago recruits, Cliff Alexander, may follow suit.

Alexander will be taking the trip down I-57 next month for Illinois Homecoming Weekend for his official Illini visit. This is big for Coach Groce's future team now including Quentin Snider and Leron Black. Cliff Alexander could definitely round out a serious 2015 team and put a Chicago Public League alum in Champaign, which is important for the future of the Illinois and CPL recruiting relationship.

Alexander is the #2 recruit in the nation, according the ESPN top 100. Alexander is from Curie High School in the Archer Heights neighborhood. He's made official visits at DePaul, Arizona, Kansas, and Memphis.

Come on Cliff! I-L-L!

Melinda McIntire

College Teams Thu Sep 12 2013

Soldier Field Features College Football on Saturday: Illinois v. Washington

This weekend you'll be able to catch some college football in Chicago as Soldier Field plays host to Illinois vs. Washington on Saturday at 5:00 PM. (As much as Northwestern likes to market that they are Chicago's Big 10 team, they actually play in Evanston.)

According to fightingillini.com, there are 220,000 Illini alumni and 1.4 million Illini fans in the Chicago area. The University has marketed the event as "Chicago Homecoming" in hopes of getting Soldier Field packed with orange and blue. Illinois has not played in Chicago since November 2010 when they beat Northwestern at Wrigley Field. Since Soldier Field will allow teams to run both ways, it should provide for some decently exciting football.

The Illini are so far 2-0 after trouncing Cincinnati 45-17 last week in Champaign, which gave us Illini fans some hope for the game at Solider Field and the rest of the season.

Tickets are still available for the game starting at $30. Illini Fest, a free tailgate, will be held prior to the game from 1-4:30 PM on the Southeast Lawn of Soldier Field. Oh, and they are selling beer I've heard.

If that doesn't convince you to come out, then here's a video that made me all orange and blue and Chicago gushy.


Melinda McIntire

Blackhawks Thu Sep 12 2013

Stan Bowman Earns Extension After Locking In Winner

Thumbnail image for GB blackhawks icon.png After rebuilding a team to its second Stanley Cup in four seasons, and re-signing players to contracts -- which should keep the renaissance on West Madison intact for some time -- Blackhawks vice president and general manager Stan Bowman was rewarded with a contract extension of his own. Bowman, who is entering his thirteenth season within the Blackhawks organization, will stay on board after inking a two-year deal, which will keep him around through the 2017-'18 season.

There's no question that Bowman, who prior to last season was on the receiving end of biting criticism, which may or may not have been deserved, turned things around after being dealt a hand with a few aces and not much else. Many fans asked for the 40-year-old executive to skate out of town, especially with his decision to keep the team, for the most part, as-is prior to last season. Turns out it was the decision that turned Bowman from heel to hero.

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Jim Crago

Blackhawks Fri Sep 06 2013

Bowman Says Kane And Toews Are Here Forever

Thumbnail image for GB blackhawks icon.png With the recent re-signings of Corey Crawford to a 6-year, $36-million deal, and Niklas Hjalmarsson to a 5-year, $20.5 million deal, all eyes looked to general manager Stan Bowman in an effort to pick his brain on how he eventually will manage to re-sign franchise players Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews.

You see, both Kane and Toews's (both unrestricted free agents) contracts are up after next season (2014-'15), which is the same time Marcus Kruger (restricted free agent), Brandon Saad (RFA), Johnny Oduya (UFA), Nick Leddy (RFA) and Michal Rozsíval's (UFA) contracts are all up. And while Bowman has proven to turn around the glorious, yet near disastrous, contracts signed by Dale Tallon, he'll certainly have some work to do come two years from now. (Saad likely is to get a significant bump.)

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Jim Crago

Blackhawks Tue Sep 03 2013

It's Good To Be Corey Crawford

Thumbnail image for GB blackhawks icon.png It's been quite a year for the Blackhawks' Corey Crawford. The Stanley Cup-winning goalie rolled through the playoffs with a 16-7 record and 1.84 GAA, recently got engaged, had his turn with the Cup in his hometown of Montreal, will get a chance to lead his country as the backstop in the Winter Olympics in Sochi, and just inked a deal to become one of the best-paid goalies in the league: a 6-year, $36 million deal. It's enough crow to go around for all his doubters to eat.

The offer kicks in after the upcoming 2013-'14 season, in which Crawford will finish out his current deal worth $2,666,667. The 55-percent pay increase has fans wondering what Patrick Kane and captain Jonathan Toews will ask for, a year after Crawford's deal kicks in, when the dynamic duo become unrestricted free agents.

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Jim Crago

Blackhawks Wed Aug 28 2013

Kane, Saad and Leddy Model USA Hockey Jerseys

Thumbnail image for GB blackhawks icon.png USA Hockey made like Fashion Week yesterday, in our Nation's Capital, revealing the look of the team's jerseys for the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia.

Donning the twenty-third edition of garb for the red, white and blue were the Blackhawks' own Patrick Kane, Nick Leddy and Brandon Saad. The three representatives from the 2013 Stanley Cup champs (it's probably now safe to refer to them as defending champs), are three of 48 invitees, who recently attended the U.S. Men's National Team Orientation Camp at Kettler Capitals IcePlex in Arlington, VA.

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Jim Crago / Comments (1)

Blackhawks Tue Aug 20 2013

7 Things to Watch for with the 2013-'14 Blackhawks

Thumbnail image for GB blackhawks icon.png With only 23 days left until the Blackhawks open training camp at the Compton Family Ice Arena on the campus of Notre Dame (Click Here for schedule info), it's time to look ahead at what important factors and obstacles the Blackhawks more than likely will face in order to repeat as champs.

Seven seems to be a popular number these days, most notably with Brent Seabrook welcoming in his first child, Carter Seven Seabrook (born Friday, August 16, at 8 lbs., 11 oz.). So why not go with seven items of note to get your blood pumping once again, in preparation for what looks to be another exciting season.

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Jim Crago

Boxing Mon Aug 19 2013

Fight Night Comes To Chicago

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It had been a little over 50 years since an outdoor boxing event took place on the South side of the city. That was on September 25, 1962, when Sonny Liston won the world heavyweight title by knocking out Floyd Patterson in the first round. The capacity crowd witnessed what eventually would be a long drought of outdoor boxing for rest of the millennium.

Fast forward to 2013 and with the help of three promoters, Round 3 Productions, 8 Count Productions and Warriors Boxing, you get a decent crowd in U.S. Cellular Field, on a beautiful evening and a solid card.

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Jim Crago

Baseball Thu Aug 08 2013

Review: From Black Sox to Three-peats: A Century of Chicago's Best Sports-writing from the Tribune, Sun-Times, and Other Newspapers

SportsBook.jpg The Chicago sports landscape is a vast space, reaching as far as the Quad Cities to Nashville, with legions of fans who stick with their teams through thick and thin. And much like that landscape in the middle of February, it is often dark and cold for what seems like an eternity, with no hope in sight. But once every so often, a beam of light shines through, melting away the ice and once again restoring hope for athletics in the Second City.

With so much drama and so many teams in the country's third-largest market, it became necessary for news outlets to canvas the city's north, south and west sides with sports writers, just as they crammed the courts and morgues with beat writers as early as they dawn of the newspaper.

Not much has changed from the mid-1800s, outside of how we receive our news, and in Ron Rapoport's newest book, From Black Sox to Three-peats: A Century of Chicago's Best Sports-writing from the Tribune, Sun-Times, and Other Newspapers, he allows the reader to take a trip back in time when sports gambling ruled outcomes of games, Babe Ruth was sticking it to the Wrigley faithful and Michael Jordan holding us all in the palm of his hand.

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Jim Crago

Blackhawks Mon Aug 05 2013

Blackhawks Single-Game Preseason Tix On Sale

Thumbnail image for GB blackhawks icon.png Get 'em while they're hot, and available! The Blackhawks, coming off their 2013 championship season, are opening up single-game preseason tickets to one and all, starting at 10:00am until there are no more.

According to the team site, those interested in purchasing tickets can go to ChicagoBlackhawks.com, Ticketmaster.com or by calling (800) 745-3000. It also should be noted that tickets are subject to availability and not guaranteed to be available for all games, price levels and/or seating areas.

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Jim Crago

Blackhawks Fri Aug 02 2013

Patrick Kane Showing Signs Of Maturity

Thumbnail image for GB blackhawks icon.png We've all experienced what it's like to be in our early-20s -- going out and partying like there was no curfew, and living every night like there was no tomorrow. Mingling amongst your friends, while trying to hook-up with the opposite/same sex and ordering whatever drinks might sound good at the time: a rum and Coke; a Lite beer; something blue with an umbrella.

Yes, for most, it's a learning experience on what eventually not to do as your late-20s/early-30s creep up quicker than washing down a shot of Jägermeister at John Barleycorn's during last call. But for the very few, it comes attached with being captured on video, via smartphones, and having it submitted to sites like Deadspin. Patrick Kane knows the latter all too well.

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Jim Crago

Chicago Tue Jul 30 2013

"Chiditarod" For Kids At Garfield Park

Kiditarod.jpg There's nothing that says fun quite like an Iditarod race in Chicago, aptly named Chiditarod, that requires adults to mush about the city at different checkpoints, all for charity. The race, pageant, talent show and fundraiser helped raise over $34,000 in cash donations while collecting nearly 17,000 pounds of food for the Greater Chicago Food Depository this past March 2, after covering 4.8 miles in the greatest spectacle in shopping cart racing.

But why should the adults have all the fun, running around and acting like kids? It's time for the kids to get involved and show the grown-ups how it's done. On Saturday, August 10, the folks at "Chiditarod" will put on "Kiditarod," a kid-oriented version of the race, at a new interactive festival called Figment, that runs Aug. 10-11 at the Garfield Park Conservatory, 300 N. Central Park Ave.

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Jim Crago

Blackhawks Wed Jul 24 2013

Blackhawks Announce Panel For Weekend Convention

Thumbnail image for GB blackhawks icon.png For those lucky enough to have a pass to the Blackhawks Convention this weekend (all passes are sold out), it's time to dust off your Stan Mikita jersey and bring an extra bag to store your collectables. The puck drops for the sixth-annual Convention Friday morning at the Chicago Hilton Hotel and will feature many of the members who helped bring home its fifth Stanley Cup in franchise history.

Earlier today the Blackhawks announced the official panels for the Convention, via its site. The bulk of the panels will take place in both the International and Continental Ballrooms with the weekend starting Friday, July 26, at 5:00pm, and the final set of events starting Sunday, July 28, at 9:30am.

If you've been going through withdrawal over not hearing enough Chelsea Dagger, or simply forgot just how handsome Patrick Sharp really is, then load up the family truckster and zip down Michigan Avenue to take in a variety of events, which includes an improv set with members of Second City to re-living the Stanley Cup Final with WGN-TV's Dan Roan. Consider it your own personal Methadone clinic, sure to ease the anxiety away.

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Jim Crago

Blackhawks Mon Jul 22 2013

Eight Blackhawks Named To Olympic Camps

Thumbnail image for GB blackhawks icon.png The Blackhawks have announced that eight of its players will attend Olympic Orientation Camps, which lead to the 2014 Games in Sochi. The organization has a league-high five players invited to the Canadian team with Jonathan Toews, Duncan Keith, Patrick Sharp, Brent Seabrook and Corey Crawford getting the call. Camp for Team Canada will be in Calgary in August with 42 other Canadians hoping to make the squad.

Three other members of the Blackhawks have been invited to the United States Men's Hockey Team with Conn Smythe winner Patrick Kane, Nick Leddy and Brandon Saad getting the honor. The three Hawks players will head to Arlington, VA, on August 26 and 27. They will join 45 other U.S.-born players in hopes to make Team USA.

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Jim Crago

Blackhawks Fri Jul 19 2013

Blackhawks 2013-14 Schedule Announced

Thumbnail image for GB blackhawks icon.png It seems like only yesterday Dave Bolland scored the Cup-winning goal to beat the Boston Bruins in Game 6. That was 25 days ago. Since then, the team has whisked the Cup all over town, Bolland was shipped to Toronto, the NHL draft happened, with Stan Bowman wheeling and dealing the afternoon away, and free agency kicking in.

And now, just earlier today, the Blackhawks officially posted its 2013-14 schedule, with the first preseason game on Tuesday, September 17, against the Red Wings at the United Center.

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Jim Crago

Boxing Tue Jul 16 2013

Youth Boxing a Knockout with Chicago Park District

Boxing_Ring.jpg Former Chicago Golden Gloves heavyweight champ Thomas Hayes looks on while a group from the Chicago Park District constructs an outdoor boxing ring smack dab in front of the Picasso in Daley Plaza. Sweat drips down his face as the morning sun beats down heavily on his brow while directing traffic and unpacking boxes.

"K.O. Time," as Hayes has been known inside and out of the squared circle, hung up his gloves a few years ago after sweating and beating brows for almost nine. His fighting résumé has him well-traveled along the West Coast and throughout the Midwest, including a WBC Continental Americas Heavyweight shot against Chris Arreola, his second and final loss in 29 fights, all while training under Kevin Rooney.

But before Hayes walked down aisles in arenas, he walked his way to high school at Leo on the south side. One of those trips to school resulted in a gunshot wound from a .22 caliber, which would change the course of his life forever.

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Jim Crago

Bandits Mon Jul 15 2013

Rosemont Hosts the 2013 National Pro Fastpitch Softball Championship

Chicagoans know that softball (16 or 12 inch) is a way of city life once the grass turns green and temps rise above 50. Local parks fill up with all ages of ballplayers, hoping to squeeze in one more season and do their best to not pull a hammy.

And while cheering on your friends and loved ones, while praying they don't break an ankle, might seem like a lot of fun, why not hop the Blue Line to Rosemont and watch how the real pros get it done at the 2013 National Pro Fastpitch Championship Series.

The event takes place Thursday, August 22, through Saturday, August 24, at the Ballpark in Rosemont located at; you guessed it, 27 Jennie Finch Way. The Championship Series is sponsored through National Pro Fastpitch (NPF), which has given elite female fastpitch players the chance to compete since 1997. The teams representing this year are USSSA Pride, NY/NJ Comets, Akron Racers and your Chicago Bandits, the 2011 Cowles Cup champs.

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Jim Crago

Blackhawks Mon Jul 01 2013

Blackhawks Wheel and Deal at 2013 Draft

Thumbnail image for GB blackhawks icon.png After a successful parade downtown and rally in Grant Park, players on the Blackhawks began to take turns showing off Lord Stanley amongst the faithful in the Chicagoland area. Dan Carcillo took his date to a Rush Concert, parrot-headed Patrick Kane at the Jimmy Buffet concert, and the rest with upcoming dates on fishing boats and swimming pools.

While the players took in the fun, management found itself on the doorstep of the 2013 NHL Draft in New Jersey. No rest for the weary, as general manager Stan Bowman looked to secure future celebrations, while trimming salary in order to sign and resign key free agents.

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Jim Crago

Blackhawks Wed Jun 26 2013

Blackhawks Plan Parade For Friday

Thumbnail image for GB blackhawks icon.png After winning its second Stanley Cup in four seasons, the Hawks have been on a city-wide tour from The Scout Bar in the South Loop to Rockit Bar with a shower of bubbly to boot. There's no telling where Lord Stanley will pop-up next, with maybe the exception of Patrick Kane's appearance on "Late Show With David Letterman" tonight, but what has been confirmed locally is the parade this coming Friday.

Mayor Rahm Emanuel made it official yesterday by stating the city would host a celebration for the Hawks on Friday, June 28, that would be like a "'Ferris Bueller's Day Off' for the entire city."

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Jim Crago

Blackhawks Mon Jun 24 2013

Blackhawks Hoist The Stanley Cup

Thumbnail image for GB blackhawks icon.png It's almost unfathomable what went down Monday night in Boston, but then again, just as Game 6 hung on a thread, so did the entire 2013 season.

Just think about it -- the entire lifeline of professional hockey in 2013 was left in the hands of billionaires, agents, lawyers, union officials and prayers just as the eleventh hour struck on a season, which was so close to not happening. But then on Sunday, January 6, the NHL and Players' Association finally struck a tentative deal, which kick-started the heartbeat of the NHL. Turns out, it was the first of many hurdles the Hawks would face this year.

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Jim Crago

Blackhawks Mon Jun 24 2013

Blackhawks Game 6 Preview

Thumbnail image for GB blackhawks icon.png The Blackhawks look to close out the 2013 season tonight in Boston for Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Final. The Hawks lead Boston three games to two, after an impressive win Saturday night at the Madhouse on Madison by the final of 3-1.

Patrick Kane returned to form and scored two goals by staying aggressive near the net and beating Tuukka Rask. Corey Crawford also bounced back and stopped 24 of 25 shots with only Zdeno Chára's slapper getting through in the third period.

A few items to note were the exit of both Jonathan Toews and Patrice Bergeron in Game 5. Toews took a shot near the head at the end of the second period from Johnny Boychuk and was sent straight to the locker room. Toews eventually came back out, but was regulated to bench duty. Bergeron, on the other hand, was sent to the hospital with a reported spleen injury.

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Jim Crago

Blackhawks Sat Jun 22 2013

Blackhawks Win Game 5 -- One To Go

Thumbnail image for GB blackhawks icon.png So it's come down to this: Game 6 on Monday night, for the whole kit and caboodle. If you'd have asked yourself earlier this year if this even would have been possible, when Gary Bettman and the like were trying to sort out millions, would you have believed it?

In any rate, here we are. On the precipice of reliving the ecstasy from 2010 when the Hawks downed the Flyers in Game 6 -- a road game, which this Monday will require calming your nerves with every superstition, Old Style, heck, every Malört shot your body can take, within arms' reach, in order to counter-balance all the stress that comes attached. Yeah, we've been here before, and no one is complaining.

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Jim Crago

Blackhawks Thu Jun 20 2013

Blackhawks Win Game 4 By A Biscuit

Thumbnail image for GB blackhawks icon.png And just like that, we have a new series. The Blackhawks went into Game 4 in Boston last night, down two games to one, and with a facelift on its first line. They came out of it having scored six goals with the winner coming in overtime.

After yesterday morning's skate, it was reported that head coach Joel Quenneville would revert back to a line consisting of Bickell-Toews-Kane, which proved to be successful against the Los Angeles Kings in the Western Conference Finals. It also was expected that Marian Hossa, who missed Game 3 from an injury, would in fact suit up and play in Game 4. (Hey, Tony Amonte. Zip it.) What wasn't expected was how Michal Handzuš would get the whole thing started.

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Jim Crago

Blackhawks Wed Jun 19 2013

Quenneville To Potentially Beef Up Top Line For Game 4

Thumbnail image for GB blackhawks icon.png It's being reported out of Boston, after the Blackhawks' morning skate, that head coach Joel Quennville very well could pair his top line as Bickell-Toews-Kane for Game 4 tonight. This potential pairing could provide the Hawks with more scoring chances up front, compared to the Game 3 line of Kruger-Toews-Frolik.

This potential move should help the captain attempt more shots during his ice time, with Kane able to move the puck his way. The move also should provide a bigger presence at the net with Bickell camping out in front of his good buddy Zdeno Chára.

According to behindthenet.ca, Toews' time on the ice per 60 minutes (TOI/60) is just under 17 at full strength, during the 2013 playoffs. During that time, he leads his team with a +28.15 CORSI number. (CORSI measures how many shots are taken on net by a team while that player is on the ice.) That leads both teams with players who have played at least 19 games.

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Jim Crago

Blackhawks Tue Jun 18 2013

Stanley Cup Final Game 3: Advantage Bruins

Thumbnail image for GB blackhawks icon.png The fog which moved into Chicago Tuesday morning might be a direct result of Hawks fans fuming on their way to work amongst the cool breeze. Game 3 shifted out east to Boston Monday evening, and began with a mysterious Marian Hossa scratch, which may or may not have resulted from a puck in the face during warm-ups. It just depends on who you ask.

Either way, the Blackhawks were staring down an 0-3 performance in its previous Game 3s, a raucous TD Garden crowd, and a triple fist pump from Rene Rancourt. No worries -- that is, until, the drop of the puck.

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Jim Crago

Blackhawks Mon Jun 17 2013

Blackhawks Poised For Game 3 In Beantown

Thumbnail image for GB blackhawks icon.png After another thrilling overtime game in the 2013 Stanley Cup Final, which for whatever reason was aired on NBC Sports Network instead of NBC national, the Blackhawks now find themselves tied at one game apiece with the Boston Bruins. The Hawks came out guns blazing in the first period, outshooting the Bruins 19-4. But another bad day at the office for faceoffs and the power play helped lead to a 2-1 loss to tie the series up.

With the series now shifting out east to Bahhh-ston, the Hawks look to gain back home ice and shake off what was a bad turnover, which led to the game-winning goal for Daniel Paille. The turnover came off the stick of Brandon Bollig, who was filling in for the "healthy-scratched" Viktor Stålberg, which was a decision by Coach Joel Quenneville for who knows what reason. But you can't blame one guy for the loss -- it just was a bad play all around.

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Jim Crago

Blackhawks Fri Jun 14 2013

Blackhawks And Bruins: Game 2 Preview

Thumbnail image for GB blackhawks icon.png Considering everyone just woke up from the Game 1 triple-overtime thriller, now seems like a good time to preview tomorrow night's Game 2 matchup between the Blackhawks and Bruins. The Hawks won Game 1 by the final of 4-3, after nearly playing the equivalent of a doubleheader Wednesday night/Thursday morning. The game was the fifth-longest Stanley Cup Final game in NHL history, which simultaneously sobered everyone up inside the United Center (beer sales cut off after the second period), while making insomniacs out of everyone else at home or at their local watering hole.

Looking back on Game 1, it's safe to say the Hawks dodged a bullet, especially after watching Zdeno Chára hit the post with 11.5 seconds left in the second overtime. Outside of baseball, hockey relies a lot on lucky bounces and lucky breaks (see every post hit by the Hawks versus the Red Wings). Yes, the Hawks are very good, but if Chára's shot is one inch to the left, there would be a vastly different narrative and mood coming from each respective city.

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Jim Crago

Blackhawks Mon Jun 10 2013

Blackhawks And Bruins For The Cup

Thumbnail image for GB blackhawks icon.png So it's all come down to this -- the Chicago Blackhawks, a team which had many questions about its starting goaltender; its coach; its oft-pickled left-winger, coming into this season, a season which almost didn't happen, now finds itself four wins away from winning its second Stanley Cup in four seasons.

No one could have imagined back on opening day that Corey Crawford eventually would be co-recipient of the William Jennings Trophy (his teammate, Ray Emery, was the other recipient) and would post a 1.74 GAA through three rounds of the playoffs; that coach Joel Quenneville eventually would make brilliant line changes that included the re-pairing of two veteran defensemen in Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook that would make a difference in a Game 7 against its oldest rival; and that party boy Patrick Kane would improve upon not only his numbers from previous seasons, but also his attitude with, perhaps, a little bit of help from his own mother while in Switzerland.

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Jim Crago

Blackhawks Mon Jun 03 2013

L.A. Story: Hawks Up 2-0 in Western Conference Finals

Thumbnail image for GB blackhawks icon.png It can't be this easy, can it? The Hawks are up 2-0 against the defending Stanley Cup champion Los Angeles Kings, after holding home court at the United Center on back-to-back nights (thank you very much, Rolling Stones) this past weekend.

It's possible the backhand the Hawks received across the back of their collective heads from the Detroit Red Wings woke them up in time for Darryl Sutter's bunch in these Western Conference Finals. Brent Seabrook is back to his old self, Bryan Bickell is doing his best 2010 Dustin Byfuglien impression, and Jonathan Toews isn't throwing tantrums on the ice. A perfect recipe for a 2-1 win in Game 1 and a 4-2 win in Game 2.

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Jim Crago

Blackhawks Tue May 28 2013

Hawks Still Alive Against Red Wings

Thumbnail image for GB blackhawks icon.png It doesn't get much better than a Game 7 in any sport, but when it happens in hockey, and your opponent happens to be your biggest rival, it's the best thing going. All together now, everyone, take a deep breath...now exhale.

The Hawks' 4-3 win over the Red Wings in Game 6 last night put smiles on a lot of faces, but not before fans raised alert status to DEFCON 1, while flipping over to the Cubs and Sox game. Those who stuck it out witnessed a classic effort from the Hawks, which almost turned into disaster at the end of the game. Nevertheless, game over, Hawks win, Game 7, all is right with the world (for now), and someone tell the Stones to end their show early tonight so that the stadium crew can get the rink ready.

The recent turnaround from Coach Joel Quenneville's squad is becoming something of legend and mystery. Here was a team which broke records during the lockout-shortened season and looked every bit the part of a champion which would raise Lord Stanley's Cup come June. But then came Games 2, 3 and 4, and a Hawks squad that resembled a pee-wee league team, dressing against a 1970s Russian national squad.

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Jim Crago / Comments (1)

Blackhawks Mon May 20 2013

Panic in Detroit: Hawks and Wings Tied Up

Thumbnail image for GB blackhawks icon.png The Western Conference semis are here and, as sometimes the case with the Hawks, Games 1 and 2 had a very "Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde" feel to them. Game 1 witnessed a barrage of shots on goal from the Hawks (41) with four of those getting through Red Wings goalie Jimmy Howard, all the while, Corey Crawford stood on his head, stopping 20 of 21, and all was right with the universe.

Then there was Game 2, a Saturday matinee at the United Center, which was the exact opposite of anything Hawks fans have seen all season, let alone from Game 1. Sloppy play, too many turnovers in their own zone, and shots taken from area code 847, with most of those being blocked, led to the 4-1 pantsing at home.

Yep, it was a real eye-sore, which had many Hawks fans asking themselves, "I woke up at 11:00 AM for this?" and, "Exactly how much sugar did Viktor Stalberg pour into Quenneville's tank?" or, "What channel are the Cubs on again?"

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Jim Crago / Comments (1)

Blackhawks Mon Apr 22 2013

No Rest for the Weary - Hawks Enter Final Week

Thumbnail image for GB blackhawks icon.png With the Western Conference all wrapped up, and the President's Trophy (award given for best overall record in the league; includes home-ice advantage in Cup Final) within grasp, the Hawks find themselves looking back on a season in which pretty much everything went right. It's hard to believe that nearly three months ago to the day, Joel Quenneville's squad was taking to the ice for the first time in what otherwise appeared to be another lost season due to a lockout.

Cooler heads prevailed, and now the Hawks have the most points (73), the second most goals scored (146) and the least amount of goals against (94) in the entire league. The awards and accolades are all great, and obtaining the President's Trophy would be a great honor, but one question arises in this and every sport: is it best to rest your top players, or do you keep riding into the playoffs with momentum?

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Jim Crago

Chicago Tue Apr 16 2013

Running Into Fear

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I've always had a hard time trying to understand what it takes to inflict pain on or wish ill will towards another person. What does it take to psyche yourself up enough to fly a plane into a building, to carelessly shoot at another person, or to plant bombs near the finish line of a marathon? I want to know, but realize I'll never understand.

I think back to when I wrestled in high school: I would visualize wrapping my opponent up like a pretzel until the referee slapped his hand on the mat, declaring me the winner (this rarely happened, but I did have a few wins under my belt). But in the end, we would shake hands in the spirit of competition and go about our separate ways.

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Jim Crago / Comments (1)

Blackhawks Mon Apr 08 2013

With Playoffs Approaching, Emery Deserves Start in Net

Thumbnail image for GB blackhawks icon.png A lot can happen during the course of the NHL playoffs. For my money it's the most exciting event in any sport, mostly because the intensity level is dialed up a notch and there aren't any shootouts.

But increased defense during a seven-game series is where the drama is born and makes me a nervous wreck every year the Hawks make a play towards June. With that comes stellar goaltending, which can ride a team to the ultimate prize: Lord Stanley's Cup.

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Jim Crago

Chicago Sun Apr 07 2013

The 2013 Shamrock Shuffle

ShuffleGear.JPG If you've lived in Chicago for at least a couple of years, you've become accustomed to the harsh, cold winters that would make any Canadian tremble with fear. And it's not just the snow and freezing rain that require us to dress with multiple layers for a minimum of six months, but the Hawk wind that whisks in from the north, west and off the lake that has us grinning ear-to-ear in anticipation for the first forty-degree day.

That rodent known as Punxsutawney Phil told us on February 2 that there would be an early spring this year, but as recently as last week, there was no sign of hope for such a promise of warmth that we've longed for after suffering through the darkness of Old Man Winter. That was until I headed over to Navy Pier this past Friday to pick up my packet for the 2013 Bank of America Shamrock Shuffle.

This was to be my third year running in the unofficial kickoff to the Chicago running season. For the past two months, I bundled up in sweat pants, my DePaul University hooded sweatshirt, wool socks, and Blackhawks ski cap to head out for a Saturday-morning jaunt in preparation for the annual 8K run.

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Jim Crago / Comments (1)

Hockey Tue Feb 19 2013

ND & UW Prevail In OfficeMax Hockey City Classic

logo.jpgNotre Dame edges Miami 2-1 in game one at Soldier Field

The first big moment of the game took place when Notre Dame's Mike Voran was hit with a five minute major and game disqualification for a check from behind on Miami's Taylor Richart. The Fighting Irish were able to manage in his absence.

Notre Dame's first goal came from Mario Lucia in the second period, followed by the game winner that came when forward Anders Lee made a rush toward the net to setup a rebound goal by Jeff Costello.

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Evan F. Moore

Basketball Fri Feb 01 2013

Big Ten Basketball Heating Up

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You weren't seeing things as you looked at the weather forecast this morning. It really was five degrees as you walked out the door for your Friday-morning commute. And just when it seems that it possibly can't get any colder, just know that the Rite of Spring known as March Madness is right around the corner.

Chicago is a hub for Big Ten graduates. You can't swing a life-sized cutout of Calbert Cheaney, that once occupied your dorm freshman year, without hitting a college-themed bar in Lincoln Park, Lakeview, and other surrounding neighborhoods. Flags bearing the likeness of Sparty, Purdue Pete, or a Buckeye are proudly displayed out front of each watering hole, acting as a beacon of light to attract the most loyal of fan base.

According to the Big Ten's website , there's a "gapers block" jamming four teams at the top. They include (overall, conference record):

#1 Michigan (20-1, 7-1)
#3 Indiana (19-2, 7-1)
#13 Michigan State (18-4, 7-2)
#11 Ohio State (16-4, 6-2)

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Jim Crago

Chicago Mon Jan 28 2013

Blackhawks' Unbeaten Streak Continues

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for GB blackhawks icon.pngThe Chicago Blackhawks are on a roll, having started this lockout-shortened season a perfect 6-0. Win number six came last night against the hated Detroit Red Wings, on the heels of defenseman Nick Leddy's overtime shot past Jimmy Howard in the extra stanza. Blackhawks goalie Corey Crawford, the game's number-one star, came up huge, stopping 29 of 30 shots, thus taking his season record to 5-0 and dropping his goals against average to 1.78.

The Blackhawks looked sharp in the first period, while the Red Wings stumbled around the rink, looking to fill the void left behind by future Hall-of-Famer Nicklas Lidstrom, who announced his retirement back on May 31. Duncan Keith got things started early for Chicago in the first period with his first goal of the season. Johan Franzen tied things up in the third, with the Blackhawks beginning to show signs of fatigue. Then, with 2:15 left in overtime, Leddy finally ended the game with his shot to give the Blackhawks the 2-1 win.

There's certainly a lot to be excited about with this team, especially since it has never started a season with six straight wins in its 87-year history. An even-keeled Patrick Kane, the comeback of Marian Hossa, and a deep bench has this team being compared to the one which hoisted the Cup after the 2009-'10 season. Coach Quenneville's team will hit the road, this time on a six-game venture, starting this Wednesday at Minnesota.

Reaching the league's all-time best start of 10-0 ('93-'94 Maple Leafs and '06-'07 Sabres) seems like a stretch, but certainly isn't out of reach. For now, it's time for some much-needed rest before a long road trip, and the final seven-eighths of the season.

Jim Crago

Chicago Wed Jan 23 2013

Preview: Chicago League of Lady Arm Wrestlers Competition

All alone this Valentine's Day weekend, or looking to do something different with your mate? Then head over to the Logan Square Auditorium on Saturday, Feb. 16 at 10pm, for CLLAW XV, and take in some pressed-flesh competition. Tickets are just $25, which gets you in to cheer on the brash beauties of the Chicago League of Lady Arm Wrestlers, and offer your future special someone a cocktail at the three-hour open bar ($10 without the drink package). Your heart will throb as you root on the likes of Lumberjack Jill as she looks to defend her title.

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Not to mention, a portion of the CLLAW XV proceeds will benefit Girls Rock! Chicago, a nonprofit organization dedicated to fostering girls' creative expression, positive self-esteem and community awareness through rock music.

While you're there, impress your date and purchase a few CLLAWBUX to offer the referees some "inspiration" in deciding the outcome of your favorite arm wrestler. So whether you're a "Calamity Pain" fan, or want to root on "Bust Your Tooth" Bluth to go all the way, you'll be sure to feel the love from all of these ladies in what's sure to be a fun night of blood, sweat and beers.

Logan Square Auditorium is located at 2539 N. Kedzie Ave., 2nd floor.

Jim Crago / Comments (1)

Chicago Tue Jan 15 2013

Chicagoan Confession: This Is My First Rodeo

PBR-Bull1.jpgLike most life-long Chicagoans, I've been indoctrinated by team sports since birth, and the only bull riding I've seen in person is the kind Chicago Bulls' coach Tom Thibodeau does with Luol Deng. The Professional Bull Riders visited Allstate Arena in Rosemont over the weekend for the Chicago Invitational and I was willfully roped into covering the event.

Chicago is universally perceived as a hard working city. We're blue collar in our white collar financial gigs. Our artists use their hands as much as their creativity and mouths. Coleman coolers are boiling to the brim with stews and coffee, then are empty and chilled before noon, on construction sites in gentrified neighborhoods. The city's journalists and bloggers work with Upton Sinclair tenacity to uncover simple truths. The workmen and women of the PBR (no not of the tall boy variety) fit right in with Chicago. Along with 9,107 paid attendees on Saturday night, I was fortunate enough to experience a wild ride of bull bucking, Ford truckin', and Rodeo Clown Krumping.

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Donny Rodriguez / Comments (5)

Chicago Wed Dec 12 2012

Chicago-Centric Bowl Season Picks

College Football Bowl Local Edition

Here is a list of upcoming bowl you should care about...or not:

R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl Sat., Dec. 22
UL Lafayette over East Carolina

UL Lafayette is Bears cornerback Charles "Peanut" Tillman's alma mater.

Meineke Car Care Bowl of Texas Bowl Fri., Dec. 28
Texas Tech over Minnesota

The Golden Gophers defensive line coach, Jeff Phelps' dad and my dad were best friends up until death.

Chick-Fil-A Bowl Mon., Dec. 31
LSU over Clemson

Do you think Alderman "Proco" Joe Moreno will tune in to see the Chick-Fil-A Bowl game??

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Evan F. Moore

The Outfit Tue Dec 04 2012

Outfit Recruits Prep For Tryouts at Bootcamp

Nine weeks ago, Tammy Tsiones didn't know a thing about roller derby.

But in that short time, Tsiones not only knows a whole lot about derby, she's pretty confident about her chances of making it onto the Chicago Outfit.

"I think I'll be all right," she said. "I'm pretty confident."

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Bill Mayeroff

Windy City Rollers Sun Nov 04 2012

WCR All-Stars lose to Denver

The Windy City Rollers All-Stars lost to the Denver Roller Dolls 212-130 Saturday in the quarterfinals of the WFTDA championships.

20121103-SCS_3021.jpgAccording to Derby News Network, Denver took the lead early and never gave it up. It took nearly five minutes for the All-Stars to score, allowing Denver to go up 19-0 early in the bout.

The All-Stars were down 131-77 at the start of the second half. For a short time, it looked as though they might be on the verge of a comeback, but penalties and strong defense from Denver allowed Denver to pull away and get the 82-point win.

Photo by Steve Stearns

Bill Mayeroff

Windy City Rollers Fri Nov 02 2012

You Can't Keep KWow From Talking Derby

konichiwow.jpgGetting Midori Ohtake to talk about herself is no easy task.

Ask her a personal question and she responds with only short sentences. She speaks quietly, a slight smile always on her face, her hands barely moving.

Getting Midori Ohtake to talk about roller derby is easy. The slight smile expands into a full, toothy grin. Her eyes -- dark and framed by plastic-rimmed librarian glasses -- light up. Words flow almost effortlessly, a few even escaping her mouth as she chews a giant slice of pizza topped with black olives, garlic and roasted red peppers.

If the name Midori Ohtake doesn't sound familiar to you, you're not alone. She is better known as KonichiWOW, number 303 on the Windy City Rollers All-Stars. You may also know her as the jammer who was skating during the final jam of September's WFTDA North-Central region tournament and outscored her counterpart on the Minnesota RollerGirls 11-8 to win the tournament for the All-Stars.

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Bill Mayeroff

Windy City Rollers Mon Oct 22 2012

WCR All-Stars Always Aiming For The Hydra

These days, there's only one thing on Jennifer Cozad's mind.

That thing is the Hydra Trophy. Known in the roller derby world simply as the Hydra, it is what Cozad, known to her Windy City Rollers All-Stars teammates as Phoebe Fi Fo Fum, and skaters all over the world aim for every fall. It's awarded each year to the winner of the WFTDA championship tournament.

Cozad, in her first season with the All-Stars (and her second with Windy City), will be playing on the national stage for the first time in a couple weeks and said that while she's definitely nervous, she's ready.

"I have complete confidence in my team," she said. "We train for the Hydra all season."

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Bill Mayeroff / Comments (1)

Bulls Mon Oct 08 2012

Training for Bulls Training Camp

Bulls_200.pngMore exciting than an Adidas-produced Derrick Rose #TheReturn video series featuring 68% montaged images of calisthenics and core building movements, more tantalizing than the 146 Derrick Rose YouTube mash-up vids, and even more electrifying than Derrick Rose emo tweets about the CTU strike/Giordano's Pizza is the Bulls training camp sans Derrick Rose! To keep your physical and mental health at peak performance, here are some exercises to help you wake up and smell the Rose-less Bulls outlook.

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Donny Rodriguez

Cycling Mon Aug 13 2012

Bikes, Beers & Hot Dog Costumes at the Cycle Messenger World Championships


Photo by Chris Dilts

By Scott Klocksin

We didn't get the 2016 Olympics. But keep your chin up and your eyes on the swirling traffic, Chicago, because we did host the 2012 Cycle Messenger World Championships.

A swarm of 375 world-class athletes from 13 countries converged on the south parking lot of Soldier Field Aug. 4-5 for two days of closed-course racing and side events such as a sprint race, a cargo-carrying race and a skid contest.

The specially-calibrated electrolyte drinks and energy bars seen at most bike races were mostly abandoned for greasy local fare and the hydration method favored by bike messengers the world over: cold beer. (It didn't hurt that Pabst Blue Ribbon was an event sponsor.)

There was even a dude who raced in a hot dog suit. Of course there was. And of course, it was mustard, not ketchup on the dog.

Amid the revelry, the main race was a mentally challenging simulation of what bike messengers do in an average work day, with riders picking up and dropping off envelopes and packages along a course requiring them to make sharp turns, stop often and account for their deliveries with a written manifest.

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Tailgate

Cubs Fri Jun 22 2012

Counterpoint: Why Hate Thy Neighbor?

Cubs_200.pngAs a baseball fan, I pay attention to what happens around the league on a daily basis. But speaking as a Cubs fan only, I could absolutely care less about the White Sox outside of the six games a year the teams play one another. And I don't think they're more important than the rest of the season.

I don't celebrate the South Siders' failures. I don't get distraught when they succeed. One crappy baseball team is more than enough to worry about. It's clear however, that I'm in the minority when it comes to the "Crosstown Classic."

The Facebook status Mike wrote about Wednesday is right in line with what I see on my news feed as well, and is quite common amongst Cubs/Sox fans. I simply can't figure out why.

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Chad Ruter / Comments (1)

Chicago Tue Apr 17 2012

Day at the Races

One of the best things about spending a sunny afternoon at the track is the people-watching. GB Flickr pool contributor Bill Guerriero caught up with some of his favorite characters at the Illinois Derby at Hawthorne Racecourse on April 7.

See more from Bill at Flickr.

Tailgate / Comments (1)

Chicago Thu Mar 01 2012

The Chiditarod Cometh!

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Chicago's sado-masochistic denizens are gearing up for another assault against winter in the seventh iteration of THE CHIDITAROD. The annual race/bar crawl/massive food drive (since 2006 the event has raised over $21,000 and 46,000 pounds*) is larger than ever and registration has been closed for weeks. The weather forecast for Saturday, while still "feisty," is nowhere near as terrible as it usually is for Chiditarod. (I know, I know, I'll miss the drenching rains, puddles of mud and street filth, and steady snow showers as much as anyone.)

Volunteers, core Chiditarod organizers, novice squads and steel-eyed veterans (Team Action Squad stand up!) will be congregating with the themed-carts, carts built for speed, carts built for laffs, "collect 'em all, folks!" at the congregation/starting line at Hubbard and Wolcott starting in the early hours of Saturday morning (8:30) with the en masse start anticipated to go off around 11:00 12:30 pm. If you're in the West Town part of Chicago and want to spectate, cheer, shout for joy, here are some useful pointers:

Chiditarod: If You Go

  • The starting line (Hubbard & Wolcott, you'll know when you get there) is an amazing experience for spectators and racers. Show up there and then bounce to checkpoints.

  • Look for Team ActionSquad! They are legendary when it comes to costumes/cart decoration/themes.

  • Play Nice! Cheer on everybody. High-fives for everyone, people.

  • You're an observer, not a Chiditarod cop; there are judges and bike marshals, so if you observe shenanigans, let 'em slide, Narc!

*That's the equivalent of eight fully grown African elephants.

Brian Lauvray / Comments (1)

Chicago Mon Feb 06 2012

Could This Be You?

sports writer hat.JPGDo you love writing and sports and writing about sports? Tailgate is always looking for new recruits.

Ideally, they'll be brilliant minds who love the Cubs and Bears and Bulls and Blackhawks and White Sox, but can also help us keep Chicago entertained and informed about what's going on below the professional ranks.

If you can analyze a free-agent signing, profile youth football players and/or report on our new bike laws, come and knock on our door. We'll be waiting for you.

To apply for a position, email jr@gapersblock.com.

Jim Reedy

Chicago Fri Jan 27 2012

Making Us Look Good

The wise and powerful Octophant, Phineas X. Jones, has seen fit to bestow upon us a series of gorgeous designs for every corner of the Chicago sports world. Feast your eyes on our new icons for the Bulls, Bears, Blackhawks, Cubs, Sox, Fire and derby demons.

GB bulls icon

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Jim Reedy

Chicago Tue Jan 17 2012

Short Hops: Fire Get A New Kit Sponsor, Chiditarod Registration, High School Hoops!

Tailgate's quick recap of what's happening in the Chicago sports scene. Today, the Chicago Fire get a new kit sponsor, registration for the madness of Chiditarod has commenced and three of Chicago's best high school basketballers are profiled.

Chicago Fire Get New Kit Sponsor

Crain's Ed Sherman is reporting on his blog that the Chicago Fire will be sponsored by the Quaker Oats company starting in the 2012 season. No details have been released by the Fire, but Sherman is stating that the deal will be for $7.5-8 mil. for three years, including an annual $1.5-2 mil. for the kit sponsorship. It wasn't certain if that jersey cash will be part of a grander Quaker Oats takeover/sponsoring. What is certain is that new Fire coach/longtime Chicagoan, Frank Klopas, will be spotlighted as a marketing presence by the team and purveyors of delicious oats.

Chiditarod Registration Is Open!

Pop a peyote button and strap on the madness! The Windy City's annual tribute to cart-craziness, art projects, pub crawling and food drives, The Chiditarod, has opened up registration. Per usual, the registration fees are tiered (the earlier you sign-up, the cheaper it is!) so get in early and if you're the artistically minded, enter a patch design. Chiditarod #7 is March 3rd.

Chicago's Basketball Future, Today

The Sports Fan Journal drops some knowledge on the best and brightest of Chicago's hoopster youngsters. Including a shout-out to Oak Park's Iman Shumpert, the starting point for the New York Knickerbockers.

Brian Lauvray

Bears Fri Jan 06 2012

A Piece of Bears History

George Halas and the Bears after the 1940 title game / Tribune file photo

Bears fans all remember Super Bowl XX as an uncommonly one-sided win. But what about a 73-0 rout in a championship game?

Seventy-one years ago, the Bears beat the Washington Redskins by that score in the 1940 NFL Championship Game. It is the biggest margin of victory in NFL history, ranked by ESPN.com a few years ago as the third-biggest beatdown in sports history:

The Bears had 501 yards of offense, intercepted eight passes and officials had to ask Bears coach George Halas to run or pass for the PAT on the team's final two scores because so many balls had been kicked into the stands.

Now the game ball from that December day will be display as part of the Unexpected Chicago series that opens today at the Chicago History Museum.

The football in question / Photo: Chicago History Museum

The ball is adorned by the signatures of several future Hall of Famers, including the Bears' legendary co-founder and coach, George Halas.

Of course, more than just this famous pigskin will be featured. The Unexpected Chicago collection contains over 22 million artifacts, and the costume section alone has over 50,000 objects, including clothing and accessories.

The Chicago History Museum is located at 1601 N. Clark Street, with $14 admission for adults, $12 for seniors and students, and free for children under 12. More information at ChicagoHistory.org.

Mike Chamernik

Blackhawks Thu Nov 10 2011

Hawks Hindered by Losing Streak?

blackhawks-logo.gifCompared to last season, the Blackhawks are off to a much better start than this time last year. The Hawks have an 8-4-3 record with 19 points, whereas this time last year they were 7-7-1 with 15 points.

Of course it's nice to see them come out at swinging this season after such a lackluster start in 2010, but the Blackhawks have some obvious kinks to work out at the moment. The team has looked a little sloppy, struggled with routine passes, and haven't been moving their feet enough.

Hindered by their first losing streak this season, the Hawks are looking to right their wrongs as soon as possible.

The Hawks have the worst power play percentage in the NHL at 8.8 but have been able to counteract that with one of the top penalt- killing units in the league. However, even that has begun to falter. The team is on a 0-2-1 drift, allowing seven goals out of nine opportunities -- including five brutal ones to Vancouver on Sunday for a 6-2 loss.

Continue reading this entry »

Breeann Tuch

Blackhawks Tue Nov 01 2011

Hawks Trick Opponent's Goalie and Treat Fans to a Win

Last night's game against the Nashville Predators marked the second straight game Swedish left winger Viktor Stalberg has won for his team. Stalberg scored twice in the Hawks' 5-2 victory against Columbus on Saturday. Last night he scored with 2:18 left in overtime to put the Hawks ahead of the Predators 5-4.

Stalberg's speed paid off as the Hawks and Predators skated 4-on-4 in overtime Monday night. The puck escaped Nashville's goaltender Pekka Rinne to end the festive evening at the United Center and extended Stalberg's point streak to all seven games the Hawks have played at home.

With the second straight victory, the Hawks' record was lifted to 7-2-2, with an at-home record of 5-0-2 -- their best start since the 2008-09 season's 6-0-2 start.

Stalberg may have made the game-winning goal but center Patrick Kane also had his threatening moments with the puck and walked away from the game with two goals and an assist.

Bryan Bickell and Nick Leddy also scored, while Marian Hossa had three assists and Patrick Sharp and Brent Seabrook had two each.

The Hawks played a lot of the game without defenseman Duncan Keith, who suffered an upper-body injury and left the game in the second period. Keith's injury is considered day-to-day at the moment.

Goalie Corey Crawford was able to finish strong with 24 saves after beginning the game a little rough. He was able to stop two Predators breakaways while the game was still wide-open and helped the team record another victory.

Up next for the Hawks is a stretch of road games, 10 out of the next 13, beginning Thursday night, Nov. 3 in Florida against the Panthers.

Breeann Tuch

Hockey Tue Oct 25 2011

Our Lesser Known Hockey Team: Chicago Steel

chicagosteel.jpgChicago's main focus may be on their Stanley Cup winning Hawks, but the city has plenty more hockey to offer. Most know about the popular Chicago Wolves and the Rockford IceHogs as well, and most recently the Chicago Express. Hidden away in Bensenville is the Edge Ice Arena, home to the Chicago Steel, a Tier 1 junior ice hockey team that plays in the Eastern Division of the United States Hockey League.

The Steel, formerly known as the Fargo-Moorhead Ice Sharks, moved to Chicago in 2000, where they became the Steel. The team stayed around .500 until the 2003-04 season when rookie Head Coach Wil Nichol directed the Steel to their first Eastern Division title.

The current GM and head coach of the junior team is Scott McConnell, who was promoted from assistant to head coach in February of this year when Jon Waibel was relieved of his duties after leading the team to a 9-27-7 record.

The team named their captains for the 2011-12 season early last week, putting Joel Benson, Theo DiPauli, Zach Saar and Andy Miller in charge. Benson will be the 15th captain in history for the team, while the rest will serve as alternate captains.

The Steel had a rough home opener this season looking 3-0 to the Youngstown Phantoms. The team hasn't been able to find its stride, posting a 5-9 record so far this season.

The Steel's next game will be Friday, Oct. 28 against Team USA U-17 (under 17 years old) at home in Elk Grove Village at 7:30pm.

Breeann Tuch

Chicago Thu Oct 13 2011

The Chicago Express Roll Into Inaugural Season

The Chicago Express, the latest addition to the East Coast Hockey League, will begin their inaugural season on Oct. 22 at the Sears Centre Arena in Hoffman Estates against the Kalamazoo Wings. This is the first time "AA" hockey has been back in Chicago since the pitfall of the United Hockey League team the Hounds in 2007.

Head Coach Steve Martinson brings to the table 15 years of experience -- his teams have never missed the postseason. Along with never missing the playoffs Martinson also has won six championships over the years. He also has 12 years of professional skating under his belt while playing for various teams in the NHL and AHL. The team's owner, Craigh Drecktrah of C & S Family Sports, also has experience with team ownership, as he was part owner of the Rockford Icehogs when they were part of the United Hockey League.

The Express is not affiliated with any hockey teams in the city, but rather with the Springfield MA Falcons (AHL) and the Columbus Blue Jackets (NHL).

Wondering where the name "Express" came from? Over the summer, the team asked fans to submit name suggestions to its website. Fans then voted online for their favorite choices before the top four were picked. Marc Johnson of Bartlett was the winner of the competition for submitting Chicago Express and won season tickets and the opportunity to drop the puck at the first home game.

Tickets range between $8 and $15, so not only is it fun for the kids but also a value for families. Friday night home games will feature $1 hotdogs and $1 beers throughout the season. Fans are also invited for free postgame skates with the team after every home game.

Breeann Tuch

Blackhawks Tue Sep 27 2011

Blackhawks: a Preview

There's no doubt that last season the Blackhawks got rocked on the ice more than they would like to admit. Patrick Kane's black eye at the end of the season was a nice reminder of their lack of hard hitters and winning puck battles in front of the net.

Luckily during the offseason General Manager Stan Bowman set out to bring some players in who would make the Hawks a little rougher. Bowman brought in Steve Montador, Jamal Mayers, Andrew Brunette, Daniel Carcillo, Brett McLean and veteran Sean O'Donnell all on one-year contracts.

The Hawks also signed Corey Crawford to a three-year contract over the off season. He will no doubt start in goal this season after his rookie year with a 2.20 goals-against average and a combined record of 33-18-6 in 57 regular season games. He's also looking to put a nix to the "sophomore jinx" this season by continuing on the path he started last year with the team.

Even though Quenneville hasn't outright said the Hawks are missing something in the center, he has been looking into moving Kane to the middle, as a potential forward for the second line with Hossa. This could be Quenneville's only choice for a while due to Patrick Sharp still in recovery after an emergency appendectomy on Sep 12. Sharp played center a lot for the second line last year, but due to the surgery and his only now beginning to skate on his own, the Hawks have begun to put Kane in the middle during preseason.

Along with the possible move to center, Kane has also come back from his injury (a broken bone in his wrist) earlier this summer and begun leading players in exhibition. Proving he really meant what he said at the end of last season promising to do whatever it took to become an "elite."

With all the moves made over the summer the Hawks should have no problem starting off much stronger than they did last season.

Breeann Tuch

Bears Mon Sep 19 2011

Texas Fan Wins Cutler's Football & Country Raffle

Bears QB Jay Cutler's International Football & Country Raffle closed out at noon yesterday. Last night, the winner was announced during Fox's Final Word.

The winner the raffle is Jason M. Parrish of El Paso, Texas. Congratulations, Jason!

Thanks to all of the Bears (and other football) fans who purchased tickets for the Raffle.

The donations will benefit the Jay Cutler Foundation, which helps underprivileged children and children living with diabetes.

For further information about Cutler's Foundation, please visit the Jay Cutler official website.

Margaret Lovell

Cornhole Fri Sep 16 2011

Chicago Way Ahead of the "Cornhole" Curve

The popularity of "cornhole" may just now be reaching the east coast but the Midwest -- or "flyover states" as so nicely put in the New York Times -- has been playing bags (as we like to call it in Chicago) for quite some time. In fact while they may now just be discovering the fun to be had throwing around some beanbags, we Midwesterners have already mastered the game with a beer in our hand and producing homemade boards. New York was introduced to the popular sport when FOX News anchor Bill Hemmer was introduced to the backyard game on a trip back to Cincinnati. One could say Hemmer brought the cultural phenomenon of cornhole to the East Coast.

Hemmer even brought several sets of cornhole back with him for his cowokers at FOX News.

So when the cool weather finally clears and the evenings grow longer, Chicago bars all around the area and into the suburbs open their outdoor areas and offer complimentary bag sets for patrons to use. Some bars even have regular bag tournaments.

In fact, the area has its own Chicago Cornhole league that plays on a year-round basis.

The game itself is very simple to learn and most people play the same rules or variations of them. The most difficult part of the game is figuring out your form when tossing the bag. People have all different ways of tossing such as the arc, or the slide but the most important thing to do when tossing bags is to keep your form, and stay consistent.

For the Midwest, playing bags usually goes hand in hand with drinking. Most of the time people play games where keeping a beer in hand at all times is required. Others just drink constantly while playing to "help" their game.

It seems safe to say that even though some people may consider the Midwest nothing more than flyover states, we know how to have some good ol' fashioned fun in the backyard tossing around some beanbags.

Breeann Tuch

Bears Sat Sep 10 2011

If You Love Football and Music Concerts, Then Jay Cutler Has a Raffle That Might Interest You

Ever since his days as the Denver Broncos quarterback, Jay Cutler's been actively involved in children's charities.

In 2007, he started The Jay Cutler Foundation, which seeks to improve the lives of underprivileged children.

In 2008, at age 25, Cutler was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes. Doctors informed him that he would need daily insulin shots and would have to alter his lifestyle to accommodate the disease.

So rather than indulge in self-pity, Cutler faced the disease and was determined not to let it interfere with his football career. In the midst of his struggle, he realized that his life was comparatively better off than the children affected with diabetes.

Continue reading this entry »

Margaret Lovell

Wolves Tue Sep 06 2011

Wolves Prepare for 2011 Season

The Chicago Wolves will gear up for their 2011-2012 season starting with opening training camp on Sept. 26, where they will play three preseason games in the seven-day training camp. One of the three games will be a home game on Oct. 1, when the Wolves play the Milwaukee Admirals at Triphahn Community Center and Ice Arena in Hoffman Estates.

They will then follow up training camp with a handful of promotional appearances around Chicagoland, stretching from the Brookfield Zoo to a stop at the Skokie Skatium grand re-opening on Oct. 2 at 2pm.

Following their promotion appearances, the Wolves will hit the road for the opening of the season with trips to San Antonio, Houston and Milwaukee. They will then head back to Chicago for their home opener on Oct. 15 at 7pm against the Milwaukee Admirals.

Breeann Tuch

Chicago Fri Jun 17 2011

Weekend What To Do: Nike Says "RUN" + Yanks Invade Wrigley

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You're forgiven for not necessarily knowing that it's already June. Chicago's weather has been manic enough to confuse your therapist. Anyway, what with it already being the third week of June, you might be a little behind on your Chicago Marathon training. Fret not, those nice folks at mom-and-pop shoe store Nike are hosting a marathon running boot camp at Soldier Field all day tomorrow. Running specialists (*Note: just really good runners) will be guiding group runs out of the Bears' home and down the Lakeshore Path beginning at 6:30 a.m. Additionally, Bears wide receiver and all-around nice guy Earl Bennett will be in the hizzy dropping tips on running and probably talking about the (pictured above) Lunar Glide 3s which will be dropping the first week of July.

Continue reading this entry »

Brian Lauvray

Chicago Fri May 06 2011

Friday Hotness: Ozzie, D-Rose and the Hawk

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It's a big weekend in Chicago sports, with the Bulls hearing a Chorus of Booz as they prepare for two critical games in Atlanta; the Cubs starting a key homestand with three against Cincinnati; and the White Sox ... oh, let's just be grateful they and their worst-in-baseball record are hiding on the West Coast for the next 10 days. Plus, the Fire and the Force are both playing at home tomorrow.

But who cares? Check out these rad new T-shirts!

Nike's got a new "Hair-itage" collection (above) featuring silhouettes of famously mustachioed and/or bearded baseball players, mostly from the '70s and '80s. Andre Dawson and Ozzie Guillen represent the Cubs and White Sox.

Meanwhile, the NBA Store is fairly overflowing with Derrick Rose swag these days, including two new MVP T-shirts:

(images after the jump)

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Jim Reedy

Contest Sun Mar 06 2011

Chiditarod 2011

Gapers Chi.jpg

It was noon on a Saturday and the crowd looked at each other expectantly, waiting with baited breath for the sound of the bull horn to signal the start of the race. Despite it being the month of March, winter wasn't giving up and there was a tingling chill and flutters of snowflakes across the cold air. Still, the costumed participants seemed to be too cheerful to notice, to of the moment and just as ephemeral as a fleeting snowflake. The glacial climate was canceled out with a gleeful rush and a promise to enjoy the day, no matter what, because something great was going to happen and all witnesses and racers could feel it down to the tingling of their spines.

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Kirstie Shanley

Chicago Fri Mar 04 2011

The Chiditarod Cometh!

The assault on urban sensibilities, crowd control and sobriety, The Chiditarod, has returned for its 6th year. The forecast couldn't call for crappier weather and per usual the "dogs" are ready to mush thru the slush all for the name of charity, madness and fun!

The race begins just south of the Wolcott-Grand intersection and spectators are invited to show up for the en masse start of costumed freaks and fanatics as they scramble for an advantage (or plot their sabotages) en route to the first checkpoint. The race begins at noon and people usually start showing up around 10 or so...

IF YOU GO:

  • The starting line (Hubbard & Wolcott, you'll know when you get there) is an amazing experience for spectators and racers. Show up there and then bounce to checkpoints.

  • Play Nice! Cheer on everybody. Hi-Fives for everyone, people.

  • You're an observer, not a Chiditarod cop; there are judges and bike marshalls, so if you observe shenanigans, let 'em slide, Narc!


Brian Lauvray

Basketball Thu Mar 03 2011

Bulls Finishing Roller Coaster Week

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for chicagobulls.pngIt's been a bit of a crazy week for the Chicago Bulls, and they're about to head into one of their toughest weekends all season with games against the Orlando Magic and Miami Heat. Let's get our head right, as I'm sure some of you are probably still clearing the cobwebs away from that shocking collapse Wednesday night in Atlanta.

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Colin Hettinger

Chicago Thu Feb 10 2011

Chicago Auto Show 2011 Focuses on Efficiency and Fun

Volt on Indoor Track
Are you ready? This Friday marks the beginning of the 2011 Chicago Auto Show at McCormick Place. I got to head down to the show a little early and scope things out.

Compared to past years, this year's show finds manufacturers focusing heavily on two very different, but exciting areas: creating cars that are exciting and fun to drive, and creating new standards for energy efficiency. Best of all, companies I heard from seem eager to do both at the same time.

Hyundai is aiming to have their fleet at an average of 40 mpg by 2025; they're on pace to hit an average of 30 mpg by 2015. Toyota is expanding their ever-popular Prius lineup to include three models (the compact Prius C, the standard Prius, and the sport-cross-esque Prius V). This expansion aims to make the hybrid a car that suits the needs of a wider audience. Toyota also has a new Prius plug-in hybrid on display that will hit the market in early 2012.

Videos and more after the jump ...

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Marissa Flaxbart / Comments (2)

Cubs Mon Feb 07 2011

Cubs Preview: Part Four -- Carlos Zambrano

Thumbnail image for cubs.gifPart of a series previewing the 2011 Cubs.

Good Z or Bad Z? Which one will show up this year? Will it be the one who went 8-0 with 1.58 ERA after returning from last year's mid-summer suspension or will be the one who snaps at the first sign of trouble? This remains the biggest question for the Cubs heading into the 2011 season.

What the Cubs really need is the Carlos Zambrano from a few years back, when he averaged 15 wins and 189 strikeouts with a 3.30 ERA from 2003-07. That's what earned him a five-year extension worth nearly $100 million in August 2007.

There is no doubt he has the ability to be one of the most dominant pitchers in the National League if not both leagues. He showed a glimpse of just how dominating he can be after coming back from his suspension last July 31.

Continue reading this entry »

Brian Livingston

Chicago Tue Feb 01 2011

Short Hops: Stocking Up Before the Storm

ramirez tribune.jpgPhoto: Nuccio DiNuzzo, Chicago Tribune

Sports fans always love keeping the guys we know and love, and the White Sox sure have been doing a lot of that lately. They brought back free agents Paul Konerko and A.J. Pierzynski, picked up Ozzie Guillen's 2012 option and Monday they gave shortstop Alexei Ramirez a four-year, $34.5 million contract extension.

The new deal, which includes a $10 million team option for Year Five, wasn't strictly necessary. The 29-year-old Ramirez was entering the final season of the cheap four-year deal he signed as a Cuban free agent three years ago, but the Sox could have kept him around for a few more years through arbitration. Instead, they decided to give him a little more money on the front end in exchange for a few years of cost-effective security on the back end. And it won't cost anything this season.

Jim Margalus of South Side Sox likes the move: "I'd call this contract fair, with an overtone of fun. Ramirez is often a blast to watch, and he's not going anywhere. That's good."

***

Good news for the Bulls too, as Joakim Noah had the cast on his right hand removed Monday after practice. The fourth-year center, one of the league's premier rebounders and post defenders, will participate in non-contact drills with the team on their current road trip and could be ready for game action after the all-star break in three weeks.

Continue reading this entry »

Jim Reedy

Cubs Mon Jan 31 2011

Cubs Preview: Part Three -- Mike Quade

Thumbnail image for cubs.gifPart of a series previewing the 2011 Cubs.

When Mike Quade replaced Lou Piniella as Cubs manager last summer, he ended a 25-year minor-league quest by becoming a big league manager. Before shedding his interim tag and officially becoming the 57th manager in franchise history, he had to prove himself. He did just that by winning 24 of the team's final 37 games.

That might not seem like much, but it helped the Cubs brass choose him over Cubs legend Ryne Sandberg. Some fans wanted Sandberg, some wanted Quade. The only thing that absolutely matters at this point is winning. And the question in this discussion: Is Quade good enough?

Continue reading this entry »

Brian Livingston

Bulls Wed Jan 26 2011

Noah's Recovery Stays Ahead of Schedule

Thumbnail image for chicagobulls.pngJoakim Noah had surgery yesterday to remove the pin that had been holding together his right hand for the past month, allowing his thumb mobility for the first time in the healing process. Next up for the 6-foot-11 center is regaining the dexterity and movement in that hand, though in the meantime he's been staying in shape and no doubt improving his handling with the left hand.

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Colin Hettinger

Cubs Tue Jan 25 2011

Cubs Preview: Part Two -- Fukudome & Soriano

Thumbnail image for cubs.gifPart of a series previewing the 2011 Cubs.

After the 2006 season Cubs general manager Jim Hendry went on a spending spree the likes of which Cubs fans have never seen before. Contracts were handed out like candy on Halloween, thus putting a financial choke hold on any future acquisitions. The good news is that a good majority of those bad contracts will be off the book at the end of the 2011 season. Until then the Cubs have to make the best of it.

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Brian Livingston

Chicago Tue Nov 30 2010

Short Hops: Lance Briggs Combines Comics and Christmas

Short Hops is the weekly gathering of excellence found throughout the Chicagocentric sports Internet. Read it while you're waiting for another great podcast from this super cool guy who used to live in Chicago and still reads Tailgate even though he's a Green Bay fan.

Brian Lauvray

Cubs Sun Nov 28 2010

This Week In Cubs Offseason: First base

It has been slow these last few weeks news wise as it usually is this time of year, but with the winter meetings taking place a week from today expect things to pick up. There are several positions that the Cubs need to address before Opening Day 2011. Let's take a look at a key spot on the diamond, first base.

The Cubs poor season forced them to trade their long time first baseman Derrek Lee to the Atlanta Braves. The move created a huge hole not only defensively, but offensively as well. Replacing Lee's ability to save would-be throwing errors from his fellow infielders is going to be difficult. There are several first basemen available this offseason.

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Brian Livingston

Chicago Thu Nov 25 2010

Short Hops: Tryptophan Overdose, Social Media 5K

Marilyn-jp-1-popup.jpg Rawr! Short Hops went a lil risque for Thanksgiving this year and invited the ghost of Marilyn Monroe to the table (for two). She brought a turkey and a pair of hooter owls (OH!) This week we're thankful for turkey, friends, football, sports in general and Marilyn Monroe? Sure. Marilyn Monroe.

  • Bloggers Organize Food Drive/5K
  • You know bloggers, always with the "twittering" and "logging on" and touching "the Facebook." Well, ChicagoNow's stable of running and fitness bloggers organized a 5K cum Food Drive to benefit Chicago's hungry. It's free, a mere 3.1 miles and you should do it. Show up with some canned goods, a pair of gently used running shoes and an old (clean) racing "tech" shirt.
  • Bulls Kneecap Phoenix
  • You're forgiven if you're a Bulls fan who turned the game off at halftime (after Chicago had been manhandled for the first half) and awoke astonished to learn that the Bulls won a thrilling come-from-behind double-OT match. Best Bulls win this impartial, and rather cynical, observer has seen in a long, long time.
  • Bears Will Try To Slow Michael Vick Down
  • This Bears writer will try to not use a "Vick"-timized headline pun when the Bears, inevitably, fail. Expect a full "Footballic Ramblings" preview sometime on Friday afternoon.

Hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving!

Brian Lauvray

Chicago Tue Nov 16 2010

Short Hops: Wrigley (Football) Field, Pizza For Cheap!

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  • Wrigley Field's Transformation is Now Complete
  • With the finishing touches of a new purple coat of paint applied to the iconic Wrigley marquee; the stadium's shift from ball diamond to gridiron is now complete. More pictures after the jump...
  • Pizza, Pizza, Pizza, Pizza
  • Lincoln Park's Brick Pizza, is offering patrons a tremendous deal on their patented "Julius Peppers Pie" -three types of peppers, if you're keeping score at home. Every game Peppers has a sack in, you, the exceptional reader of Tailgate, can head to Brick and order the aforementioned pizza for a mere five bucks. If Julius somehow scores a touchdown? You can get a free 12-inch pie with the purchase of -the quaintly dubbed- "adult beverage." Unfortunately, Peppers did not have a sack in yesterday's win against the Vikings; still, you should go eat some pizza.
  • Bulls Are Outta Town For Rest Of Month
  • The circus is at the United Center for the rest of November and that means the Bulls are on their annual western road swing. Next home game is December 1st against Orlando.

Continue reading this entry »

Brian Lauvray

Chicago Thu Nov 11 2010

Short Hops: Ricketts Seeks State Funding? WTF?

Short Hops. You know the drill. Sports news. Chicago. Sports news. Chicago. It's fun and we all talk about it at the water cooler.

  • Cubs Owners Seek Taxpayer Money
  • Uhhh, no. Sorry, Tom, et al. This ain't happening. As Crain's Ed Sherman points out, the State of Illinois is in a severe deficit of a not paltry few billion dollars. I too would like a free $200M from those fat cats down in Springfield and I have just as good a chance as the Cubs of getting it. But yeah, "Crumbling infrastructure (roads, CTA, highways); joblessness; stadium renovations," one of those just doesn't belong. H/T Crain's Chicago Business
  • Wrigley's Transformation to a Football Field Is Nigh Complete
  • The always cool guys over at The Wrigley Blog have some cool pics up of The Friendly Confines becoming the Ivy-less Gridiron for the University of Illinois vs Northwestern game next Saturday, the 20th of November. H/T The Wrigley Blog
  • Childress Death Watch Is at Defcon 4
  • Lovie Smith's hot seat is fairly cool compared with what's going on in the Land of 10,000 Lakes (more like 10,000 Mistakes, am I right?) as reports of major dissent and team wide dissatisfaction emerge about Minnesota Viking coach, Brad Childress. Sunday's Vikes-Bears game at Soldier Field is win or die. Maybe. H/T Shutdown Corner

Brian Lauvray

Chicago Tue Nov 02 2010

Short Hops: Cubs Renovations? Bulls Better?

Short Hops is Tailgate's Second City-centric take on sports and news that's wrangled from the bustling river of information you call the "World Wide Web."

  • Wrigley Renovations A Reality?
  • Cubbie Doctor's Examiner was privy to a survey the Wrigley Field/Cubs dished out to the fandom and maybe because the Ricketts' family already has put up some money and renovations (in one year's time, no less!) these ideas sound sorta aggressive and plausible. --HT: The always on-point Cubs Fan Report.
  • Bulls Beat Back Blazers, Luol Deng Goes Off
  • Really wanted to go for the "Deng, Son!" header but thought better of it. Still, the Bulls romped through the Portland Trailblazers last night and Deng went off for a career-high 40 points in the United Center undressing. Also, Derrick Rose tied his career best of 13 dimes. Also, the previously mentioned "Cubs Fan Report" now is doing a "Bulls Fan Report" they're awesome guys and know their Chicago sports, so, yeah, shameless plug.
  • Roller Derby Championships Come To Chicago
  • Our very own venerable and esteemed "Derby Dame" will be at the matches this weekend, but you should go too! UIC Pavilion is hosting the fun and excitement.

Brian Lauvray

Chicago Thu Oct 14 2010

Short Hops: Zirin on Stadiums, Bartman 7 Years Later, More!

Short Hops is the weekly link dump of Tailgate. It's basically a garbage pile where you, the curious and hungry black bears of the Internet, scavenge the leftovers that you may have missed whilst feasting on a blueberry patch all of last month.

  • Today Is the seventh anniversary of the Bartman Game
  • Tailgate's former Cubs apologist turned Southsider fan, The Turncoat, has an amazing retrospective of that fateful day.
  • David Zirin was in Chicago
  • and he talked about public policy and stadium rights with GB's Micah Uetricht.
  • Bears Vote to Decertify, Cutler Back from Head Owie
  • Potentially there will be a work stoppage next year in the NFL. The league allows every team the option to decertify (stop being a union) and in that case the NFLPA is allowed to sue for antitrust protection. Boring legalese but still very important. Also very important? Cutler will be back under center against Seattle.

Brian Lauvray

Chicago Thu Oct 07 2010

Short Hops: Chicago Marathon Edition

Short Hops is Tailgate's collection of interesting links and news from around the internets (a complex system of tubes.) Typically it's Chicago-centric.

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  • The Chicago Marathon is Sunday
  • Approximately 40,000 runners will be descending on Grant Park for the 26.2 mile race through the city's neighborhoods. Primary sponsor Nike (you've probably heard of them?) has a Chicago edition of their flagship running shoe the LunarGlide (pic above, obvs) and really it's a nice looking shoe, no?
  • More Marathon Goings-On
  • At the Chicago Marathon Fitness Expo (which is really a big commercial carnival of hockers and barkers, but it's fun) the people of Volkswagen and the Chicago Fire will be allowing you (the fan) to meet and greet numerous Chicago Fire players on Saturday. Additionally, psychotically in shape ultra-marathoner/VW sponsored superstar of running, Dean Karnazes will be on hand to chat about running and having a lower resting heart rate than you.
  • "Poop And Circumstance"
  • ESPN the Magazine has a ridiculous take on athletes who have gone out and soiled themselves. It's hilarious (if you're juvenile and laugh at the thought of people pooping themselves. Tailgate falls decidedly in this camp.)
  • Blackhawks Like Pizza
  • The icers and deep-dish purveryors, Giordano's have struck a contract allowing the pizza chain to sport their logo on the 'Hawks practice unis. This makes the Blackhawks the second NHL team to jump on board the emerging trend of sponsored practice jerseys.

Brian Lauvray

Chicago Mon Oct 04 2010

Short Hops: Boozer Boo-Boo, Big Buck Recap, Bye-Bye Baseball

Short Hops is Tailgate's informative little link collection. It shows up from time to time. Here's what you should know this morning as you start your work week and wish you weren't gearing up for winter...

  • Boozer. Out. Eight Weeks.
  • Oh Snap! (pun!) The Bulls prized offseason acquisition is out for two months after breaking the fifth metacarpal bone on his right hand (aka: his right pinky finger.) Booze-man should be back after the team's west coast circus trip.
  • Trevor Floren Destroys Berg Family's Rein of BBH Dominance
  • Trevor Floren of suburban Lake Villa claimed the coveted "Pappy's Jug" at the 3rd Annual Big Buck Hunter World Championships this weekend at The Cubby Bear. Floren's dominating victory marked the first time in BBH history that a member of the Berg family had not won.

Brian Lauvray

Cubs Mon Oct 04 2010

Cubs Drop Season Finale To Astros 4-0

The Chicago Cubs ended the season the way they began it back in April against the Braves, losing. Terrible defense, a severe lack of clutch hitting, and a managerial change mid season are only a microcosm of what was the 2010 season for the Chicago Cubs. There are several things that need to be accomplished this off season before this team will be competitive in 2011. First things first though the last game of the year.

Ryan Dempster took the mound looking for his 16th victory of the year. The Astros would have other plans on Sunday afternoon. Dempster worked six innings allowing three earned runs and striking out seven. Not one of his better outings of the year and his defense didnt do him any favors. He gave up a pair of second inning runs, including one on a topper in front of the plate that Koyie Hill bobbled and hit the runner in the back with the ball.

Continue reading this entry »

Brian Livingston

Chicago Fri Oct 01 2010

Big Buck Hunters Take Aim On Windy City

2010Champs.png Chicago is the epicenter of video game hunting this weekend. Yes, the insanely popular and addictive like it should be illegal, Big Buck Hunter, is having its world championships this weekend at the Wrigleyville haunt, The Cubby Bear. For the uninitiated (and really if you're living in the Midwest, seriously?) the game comes equipped with a blaze orange toy-sized rifle with circuits and wires (some might say "wizardry") that allows the player to hunt big game quarry throughout North America and the world. By blasting away at pixelated pronghorns, bison and mule deer points are accrued, bonus rounds are had and --here's where it gets interesting-- monies are won! Yes, these world championships are just as much about that cold, hard cash as the bragging rights associated with bettering your competition whilst sipping a brew and gamely talking up your game while shooting at game.

Continue reading this entry »

Brian Lauvray

Chicago Fri Sep 24 2010

Short Hops: You Want Sexy Ditka? We Got Sexy Ditka!

Short Hops is your one-stop (okay, you can go elsewhere) spot for irreverent Chicago sports news, culled from only the finest corners of the digital garden known as the Interwebs...

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  • This One's For All The Ladies
  • Feast your eyes on so much footballic sex appeal (except for you ginger androgyne. "Not Sexy.") Much thanks to Kiersten, et al at Thersic.

Continue reading this entry »

Brian Lauvray

Chicago Wed Sep 22 2010

Short Hops: Cubs Fan Report Partay!

  • You're A Wrigley Bleacher Bum Extraordinaire
  • You've subscribed to the Cubs Fan Report since those halcyon and oh-so-hopeful early April days. CFR founder/man about town, Andrew Hilsberg, wants to thank you for being a friend, so head over to the Newport Bar & Grill on Thursday for an evening of revelry, good cheer and "Waiting 'Til Next Year."
  • New Chicago Hockey Team: The Express
  • rolled out their logo and team name (logo: train, name: The Express) at the Sears Center in suburban Hoffman Estates. The newly christened team will be playing in the ECHL which is a AA equivalent for the pro hockey leagues. The team's debut season will begin in October of 2011.

Continue reading this entry »

Brian Lauvray

Chicago Thu Sep 16 2010

Shorts Hops: Baseball Almost Over, Basketball Almost Here

Believe it or not, the year is already 3/4 done. 2010, we hardly knew ye and with time's inexorable march forward we can begin to wrap up the 2010 baseball season. [Of course, Cubs fans have been doing that since what? August 1? No rimshot? -Ed.] In any case, the basketball season is nearly upon us and football is already here and ready to rock you like a hurricane. Onward to Short Hops...

  • Tailgate's own Turncoat
  • was interviewed by TimeOut Chicago this week about his new found allegiance and abandonment.
  • Derrick Rose has Some New Hardware
  • to show off and Sam Smith has new ways to ramble on about how great and invincible Rose is... Ugh, someone --anyone-- should give this dude (Smith, not Rose) the FJM treatment.
  • Bears Lineback Hunter Hillenmeyer Out For Season
  • with concussions and Rick Telander (who earlier this summer did a series on football players and concussions) defends Hillenmeyer's choice. Note: concussions are insanely dangerous to mess around with. Like juggling chain saws on an ice berg...or something?

Brian Lauvray

Chicago Thu Sep 09 2010

Short Hops: NFL Is Almost Here! OMG, OMG, OMG!

  • The NFL is Here TODAY!! Rejoice!
  • As if Tailgate needed an excuse to pump Ms. New Booty. Still, the NFL is here and just like that bangin' young lady (or guy, right, ladies?) sporting that bootilicious booty. The NFL is back and its trunk is packin' plenty of backin and traction for action and satisfaction. NFL. USA! USA! USA! USA! Awesome season starts tonight at 7:30 with Minnesota Favres playing the New Orleans Saints. On NBC, suckas!
  • 'Melo to Chicago?
  • Rumors are swirling about the Internets that Denver Nugget forward/scoring machine, Carmelo Anthony is seeking a trade to either the Bulls or New York Knicks. In return for the 'Melo Gold the mountain dwellers of Denver would expect a package of players involving, likely, Luol Deng and Joakim Noah. Tailgate says "no" to trading JoNo, still, 'Melo is a great scoring threat from anywhere inside the 3-point line...
  • White Sox Drop Another One
  • The South Siders lost to Detroit 6-3 in Motown this afternoon. Not good news for the post-season chances of Ozzie's Boys.

Brian Lauvray

Chicago Thu Sep 02 2010

Short Hops: Chelios Hangs 'em Up, Bulls Out and About, Cutler Speaks

Short Hops is Tailgate's round-up of Sports Internet nuggets of information, really it's a lot like a 10-piece McNugget order except there aren't ten items and it's waaaay lower in trans fats/chicken viscera.

  • Chris Chelios Finally Retires
  • Chicagoan/NHL ironman Chris Chelios has finally walked away from the ice for good. The 46 year-old is a veteran of 26! NHL seasons and as recently as March of this year was mounting a comeback with the Atlanta Thrashers. The future Hall Of Famer leads all NHL players in playoff games, represented the United States in four Olympic teams and played in the fourth-most NHL games all-time (1,651).
  • Is Joakim Noah High in this Video?
  • It's not really a secret that JoNo likes to get a little blazed from time to time, so would it shock anyone that he was in a slightly altered state in this video from the Bulls Charity Golf Outing?

     

Continue reading this entry »

Brian Lauvray

Chicago Wed Aug 25 2010

Short Hops: Pippen To Get Statue, Bears Get Fossil QB

Short Hops is here to help get you through your soul-sucking and impossibly annoying work week. Here's a timewaste you can watch with your headphones plugged in after you read these amazing tidbits of information from the Sports Interverse!

  • Scottie Pippen Will Receive a Statue
  • So declareth the Bulls front office. The org which has already given Pip a seemingly cushy job as "team ambassador" --it's okay, Scottie, we know you've really been hard-up for cash for a long time; will, according to a report by the dirty-sounding Adam Fluck, erect a statue in number 33's likeness. So in the past month Pippen has gotten a job, been enshrined in the Basketball Hall of Fame and now been given a statue in his honor.
  • Bears Dig Up Fossil, Put Uni On It
  • After backup QB, Caleb Hanie separated his shoulder and rookie prospect, Dan LeFevour, threw more interceptions than completions in a practice, the Bears have signed NFL journeyman/Methuselah, Todd Collins to a one-year contract, so that he can be closely observed by team gerontologists he can serve as a backup to Jay Cutler and help to mentor Hanie and LeFevour.

Brian Lauvray

Chicago Fri Aug 20 2010

Weekend What-To-Do: Cops Vs Firefighters Edition

Weekend What-To-Do is Tailgate's guide to what's good Chicago. Sorry, we've neglected posting for about a month; Tailgate's been traveling a lot (seriously, Wisconsin, New Mexico, New York City). In any case, here's what you should be checking out in Chicago's sports scene this weekend.

Baseball, Baseball, Baseball
We previewed it earlier in the week, but it bears mentioning again, Chicago Cops vs Chicago Fire Putter Outers at the (Jail?) Cell tomorrow afternoon. The Sox are in Kansas City taking on the Royals and looking to gain some ground on the division leading Twins. Meanwhile, the North Siders are hosting the NL East leading Atlanta Braves.

Read About/Watch NFL-brand Football
The Bears are still going thru the motions and actually have a preseason game at Soldier Field against Oakland on Saturday night, but until then check out Andy Behrens' piece on new Bears OC, Mike Martz.

Brian Lauvray

Chicago Thu Aug 19 2010

Short Hops: Favre Is Back Edition

Short Hops is Tailgate's extremely sweet collection of links from the Sports Internet. You should read it while jamming out to Automatic For The People.

  • Brett Favre is Back (yawn). The old war horse is gearing up for yet "another" final campaign. The good news? Jay Cutler automatically becomes only the second-most scrutinized quarterback in the NFC North. The better news? Brett Favre might die on the playing field, Tailgate endorses this sentiment*

  • The Bears Really, Really Could Use a Backup QB
    The Bears' backup QB, Caleb Hanie, sprained his right shoulder in last Saturday's preseason game against San Diego. Rookie, Dan LeFevour, threw five (!!!) interceptions at practice on Monday and the Bears have signed Matt Gutierrez to a one-year contract. Gutierrez, who heretofore was looking at starting for the Omaha Nighthawks of the UFL, is giddy; Bears fans are leery and suddenly really hoping Jay Cutler has a very healthy season and is shipped to away games wrapped in bubble-wrap.

  • Bill Veeck (As In Wreck) Was So Awesome
    Eddie Gaedel made his big league debut today in 1951, thanks to the radtacular Bill Veeck. Just your daily reminder that, in fact, you'll never be as awesome as the former ChiSox owner and that, indeed, people nowadays have no balls and would really struggle without having their smart phones and would have their feeble minds blown by looking at the 3'7" Gaedel at the plate.

*What? We can't? Screw you, lawyers!

Brian Lauvray

Chicago Mon Aug 09 2010

Short Hops: Obama & Derrick & Joakim & Chauncey & Kobe

Short Hops is Tailgate's occasional link-o-rama from the Sports Internets (It's like the normal Internets but with more balls and less intellectual discourse, duh).

  • Noah Is Looking for Long-Term Deal
  • Speaking of JoNo, the gangly Bulls baller is working on a new contract with the Bulls that would set him up with the team for the forseeable future. (HT: ESPNChicago)

Brian Lauvray

Chicago Wed Jul 21 2010

Short Hops: Get Used to "Unga Strikes"-styled Puns

Short Hops is the official link depot of Tailgate because really there's never enough links about sports, am I right, folks? Speaking of official links, check out our official Twitter link: @GBTailgate

Chicago Is Officially "HarveryUnganistan" For Remainder of Infinity

The Chicago Bears smartly drafted Harvey Unga in the NFL's supplemental draft. Unga --a 3rd round talent, that was a steal in the supplemental draft officially signed his contract with the Second City Ursas and will be rocking training camp with the rest of the rookies starting July 30 in Bourbonais, Illinois. Unga, BYU's all-time leader in rushing yards, will be a likely contributor to special teams and a rotational RB option with plenty of firepower and catching ability out of the backfield.

Continue reading this entry »

Brian Lauvray

Chicago Fri Jul 16 2010

Weekend What-To-Do: Pitchfork Edition

Weekend What-To-Do is Tailgate's end of week look at what sports related events are going down in Chicago. Read it and make sure you stay hydrated while considering the options of using an actual pitchfork on some hipster lamewad at Pitchfork this weekend.

Baseball

The Cubs are hosting the defending NL champions, Philadelphia all weekend at Wrigley. Meanwhile the white-hot White Sox (winners of nine straight) are "up nord der in Minniesota, you betcha" to take on loathed divisional rival the Twins and, presumably, mock the Coen Bros. classic, Fargo.

Futbol

The Chicago Fire are hosting the New England Revolution on Saturday night at Toyota Park. Come out to see how the Fire rebound from their 5-1 loss in the opening game of their SuperLiga series

More Futbol

The fun pop-up boutique jointly run by St Alfred's and Nike in support of the World Cup, Six Points is closing this weekend with a cooooool event (don't worry it's coming back as a running store). Throughout its run the store had various artists and designers drop extremely limited edition Chicago and footie-inspired tee shirts. The same designers (Mr Cartoon, Chicago's Cody Hudson among them) also designed radical soccer balls that will be auctioned off Saturday in a silent auction at the store. Doors open at seven, with complimentary foods and drinks, 21+ and call (773) 486-7159 to put in a bid or just for more details.

Brian Lauvray

Chicago Wed Jul 14 2010

Sloooooooww Day in Sports

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Today is the "most boringest day" of the year. June 21st may be the longest day but today is without a doubt the "most boringest" day. No baseball games (Thanks a lot All-Star break); the NBA and NHL have been done for weeks now and the NFL training camps don't open for a few more weeks. Tomorrow the British Open starts (I mean you do care about golf, right?) and Lance Armstrong is being investigated for fraud and doping by the feds which is entertaining. The Chicago Fire are playing tonight and Manchester United is in town, that's about all there is that's going down in the Second City. I know, it's hot out....

Brian Lauvray

Chicago Fri Jul 09 2010

Weekend What-To-Do: NASCAR and Facial Hair Edition

WWTD is Tailgate's end of week list of suggestions for the sporting enthusiast to check out in Chicago. NASCAR is in town this weekend and of course the weather is going to be hot and excellent for the beach, onward!

SATURDAY, SATURDAY, SATURDAY!

NASCAR's Sprint Cup roars into Chicagoland Speeday with the Lifelock 400 in Joliet this Saturday. Kevin Harvick and Jimmie Johnson will be continuing their on track chase for the Sprint Cup title and if that weren't enough, the bearded, mustachioed, goateed and sideburned in the crowd can get a free trim and shave courtesy of Sterling, Illinois' very own Wahl. The "Let It Grow Tour" is hitting up the raceway to seek out Chicago's best beard, swing by for fast cars and clean shaves.

Continue reading this entry »

Brian Lauvray

Chicago Thu Jun 03 2010

Short Hops: Northside BBQ on SouthSide, Blackhawks Bonanza

Short Hops is Tailgate's weekly look at what's going down in the Windy City's World of Sports...


Smoque is Dishing BBQ at The Cell

Levy Restaurants --the same company that brought Bison foot-longs to Wrigley-- is now bringing Pale Hose fans bar-b-que from the highly regarded Smoque. Finally, Southsiders, uncertain and terrified of the nether reaches of "The Cubs Side of Town," can relish in the savory goodness of Smoque. Start salivating like Pavlov's dogs, Sox fans.

Blackhawks, Metro, Music, Beer, Sunday
In what will hopefully (fingers crossed, "No Whammy. No Whammy!") be the series-cinching game for the Blackhawks, Metro (purveyors of cool, dispensers of tunes and booze) are hosting "Slapshot Sunday." A Sunday night party consisting of the Chicago Blackhawks-Philadelphia Flyers Game 5, live from the United Center on the GIANT screen; Jon Fratteli -the writer of "Chelsea Dagger"- performing live after the game; tickets are free and available via: 93XRT.com; txting (OMG): "Hockey" to 5-9393 or by listening to 93 XRT and winning tix.

More Blackhawks? Yes, More Blackhawks
"I have a fever and the only cure is more Blackhawks." Our friends at The Heckler dug up this nugget on netminder Antti Niemi. Yep, aside from being really good at stopping hard, frozen, black pieces of solid, vulcanized rubber and having a full name that sounds like just a last name, Niemi, also has fixed what BP and the feds could not. He also rescued baby sea turtles and whooped BP's collective ass.

Brian Lauvray / Comments (1)

Bulls Tue Jun 01 2010

[UPDATE] Pocket Guide to the Chicago Bulls Offseason

The Chicago Bulls have entered into a period in their franchise history that is full of two things: questions and potential.

If the cards land just right, the Bulls could become immediate NBA Championship contenders. On the flip side, a few missteps or mistakes could mire the team in another prolonged stretch of mediocrity.

To help you follow along with all of the questions, and subsequent answers, that will invariably come from the next few months, please follow along with this "Pocket Guide to the Chicago Bulls Offseason". Feel free to score along at home as each topic is addressed in real life. This document will be living and breathing with each additional update, so be sure to check back frequently.

1.) Will LeBron James be playing for the Bulls next year?

Current Status: Unknown

Rumors: Every new day seems to bring a new story about the insatiable chase to recruit LeBron James. There are even dedicated websites that push out information constantly. Even major news outlets cannot stop themselves from covering each angle. At this point, one cannot rely on any information until the man himself makes a statement.

(Update 06/08) James will be going on a free agent tour with stops in his potential next city. Chicago made the itinerary. Tom Thibodeau signed with the same agency as LeBron James (CAA Sports). James was interviewed by Larry King and said that Cleveland still has an edge to re-sign him. SendLeBrontoChicago.com bought a billboard.

  • Best Guess as of June 1st, 2010: LeBron will remain with the Cleveland Cavaliers.
  • Best Guess as of June 8th, 2010: LeBron will remain with the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Continue reading this entry »

Glenn McBride / Comments (1)

Chicago Fri May 21 2010

Weekend What-To-Do: Blackhawks, ChiSox, GapersBlock

'Hawks are Back in the United Center

If it seems like it's been a long time since the Blackhawks had a home playoff game it's because it has been a long time. It's been 11 days since the pleasant beats of Chelsea Dagger shook your lil' skull. Chicago looks to take a formidable 3-0 lead in their quest to reach the Stanley Cup Finals #ONEGOAL #etcetera. Puck drops at 7:00 pm and you better make sure you're at a bar/friend's house/cardboard box that carries Versus TV because the game is only on Versus.

It's Gapers Block's Birfday (Cue up the requisite "In Da Club")

Gapers Block is so old that this tired and busted Curtis Jackson jam was still a hit when GB got started. Fortunately, Gapers Block is not tired nor busted; come to Metro tonight and get silly with us. We'll be crack-a-lackin' all night and no, 50 won't be up in the hizzy.

Continue reading this entry »

Brian Lauvray

Basketball Fri May 14 2010

Send LeBron to Chicago: An Interview With the Man Behind the Movement

sendlabron.jpgEver since LeBron James signed his last contract with the Cleveland Cavaliers, all eyes began to focus on July 1st, 2010. This will be the first day that the biggest star in all of the NBA will be available for courtship. Teams will surely be at the James residence at 12:01 AM that day, but before official moves can be made, fans and cities can make their voices heard.

Chicago has vaulted itself into the LeBron James sweepstakes through various moves throughout the past season. The team is positioned to make a legitimate run at signing the modern day Michael Jordan. With this said, it will take more than a mega contract to make this fan-dream come true.

AJ Barthold, for one, is not going to sit back and let the fate of his beloved Bulls be left to management deals. He has started a campaign to organize the fans and communities in Chicago behind this effort. Gapers Block spoke with the man behind the movement, "Send LeBron to Chicago."

Was there a specific moment or event that led you to starting the "Send LeBron to Chicago" campaign?

AJ Barthold: I was always a Bulls fan, I have always been a LeBron fan. I wished for him to play on the Bulls for a long time. This is the first realistic shot the Bulls have had in making that happen. I was aware of his free agency status for a few years now, but I would say the campaign idea became detailed in my thoughts 2 months ago.

Until recently, as in the Game 5 loss (LeBron's Cleveland Cavaliers went down to the Boston Celtics in their Best-of-Seven series 3-2), did you actually think there was a realistic chance for the Bulls to land LeBron?

Yes. I always thought there was a chance. We have it all here! Tradition, big market, international brand, great fans who sell out every game and the young talent of Derrick Rose and Joakim Noah. Also, LeBron grew up a Bulls fan.

Can't argue with that logic. Now there are a lot of conspiracy theories floating around about LeBron's performance in Game 5. Do you think the free agent situation is playing into LeBron's play on the court?

I won't buy into conspiracies that suggest LeBron would purposely lose. I think he is quite the competitor and he has been playing through pain from his elbow injury that may require surgery. He won't make excuses and you can not give your opponent any ideas by suggesting you are in pain, especially against a physical team like the Boston Celtics.

Continue reading this entry »

Glenn McBride / Comments (4)

Chicago Thu May 13 2010

2-Point Diversion: Cubs Win, Sox Lose, 'Hawks Head to San Jose

2-Point Diversion is Tailgate's most awesome drop of information for the morning on Chicago Sports talk. Gather 'round the water cooler and spread the knowledge and join us on Twitter @GBTailgate.

White Sox Fall to Twins, Cubs Take One From Marlins

The White Sox fell 3-2 to the Minnesota Twins yesterday afternoon in "da 'Sota." John Danks gave up 3 runs and that was all the Twins needed to tame the South Siders. Meanwhile, at Wrigley, the Cubs finally won a game. Carlos Marmol nailed the save but gave up a run in the process. This friends, is what we call progress. I know, it's crazy, just trust me, this is much better than not scoring any runs and wasting gems from pitchers.

Next Stop, San Jose.


Toews, Kane and the rest of the gang flew straight from Vancouver to San Jose to prepare for their Western Conference Finals tilt with the Sharks. As of press time it's unclear whether the San Jose P.A. guy has a copy of Chelsea Dagger or not. [frowny face emoticon]

Brian Lauvray

Chicago Wed May 12 2010

2-Point Diversion: 'Hawks Vanquish Vancouver

Chicago Takes Down Canucks

A year to the date after eliminating Vancouver last season, the Canucks did it again. Tallying a 5-1 obliteration of the Canucks in Vancouver. Plenty more to come later today, but for now: The Blackhawks will face San Jose and Half Acre's beer is safe.

Cubs Lose, White Sox Win

The Northsiders dropped another one as --seemingly-- they're bats are in hibernation? full of holes? The batters are confused about the tenets and basics of "scoring runs?" Chi Sox took a road victory from AL Central leader, Minnesota.

Have a great day and check out Tailgate on the Twitter.

Brian Lauvray

Chicago Fri May 07 2010

Weekend What-To-Do Blackhawks, Baseball

Weekend What-To-Do is Tailgate's end 'o week plan for you to have fun with sports in Chicago. Tailgate has "the headcold" right now, but you should still follow us on Twitter (we're contagiously awesome.) Onward, to the weekend!

Make Your Own Chelsea Dagger Blackhawks App

The Blackhawks are in Vancouver tonight, so how will you hear "Chelsea Dagger" after every 'Hawks goal? There's an app for that. Puck drops at 8:30 on Versus and (we believe) Comcast Sports.

White Sox Hosting Toronto

The 'Hawks aren't the only team looking to wail on America Jr this weekend, as the South Siders are hosting the Toronto Blue Jays all weekend. The forecast is callilng for temps in the mid 50s, so bundle up. The Cubs, incidentally, are in Cincy this weekend to take on the Reds.

Brian Lauvray

Chicago Thu May 06 2010

Short Hops: Short Hops Has Returned

Shorts Hops is Tailgate's entertaining, weekly link dump. It was on hiatus because the lazy new editor, Brian, completely forgot about Short Hops for the first three months of his tenure. He has been fired.

Ricketts Sends An Open Letter Re: ToyotaGate

Tailgate is pretty annoyed with the quasi-hullabaloo this damn Toyota sign is causing. Look, the Cubs are for-profit! The owner of the building whose ad will be partially obscured by the Toyota logo? A greedy monger trying to squeeze more blood from a rock. (Via Crain's Chicago Business)

Continue reading this entry »

Brian Lauvray

Chicago Fri Apr 30 2010

Weekend What-To-Do: Derby, Blackhawks, D-Backs Protest

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Wrigley Field Protests

The Arizona Diamondbacks are in town all weekend long and opponents of the newly passed (and horrendous) Arizona Senate bill 1070 are protesting the Diamondback (and their GOP owner, though he's actually against 1070) all weekend. It's about time sports got back to being about more than just amusing ourselves.

Continue reading this entry »

Brian Lauvray

Chicago Tue Apr 13 2010

St. Alfred + Nike/Wicker Park = World Cup Haven

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The last thing the gentrified and hipster-loaded 'hood of Wicker Park needs is another boutique ripe for, uhh, more gear and alternate, limited editions for hipsters to buy. Fortunately, the parents of Wicker Park's newest purveryors of cool, St. Alfreds and Nike, know exactly what is up and have birthed a humble and fresh-as-heck tribute to the World Cup. The space is next door to the original St. Alfred's at 1529 N. Milwaukee and offers an eclectic offering of gear doled out by various artists and designers from World Cup (and soccer-mad) countries such as, Brasil, The Netherlands, France, Mexico and the host nation of South Africa.

Continue reading this entry »

Brian Lauvray

Chicago Fri Apr 09 2010

Weekend What-To-Do

Huge amount of Sports, Sports, Sports going down in Chicago this weekend so let's jump right in, shall we?

Blackhawks

Tonight! Against the Colorado Avalanche. The 'Hawks clinched the Central Division but really, why wouldn't they wanna destroy the Colorado Avalanche, am I right? Puck drops at 9:30.

Bulls

Tonight! Live from the swamplands of New Jersey. The Bulls desperately need a win tonight before traveling north of the border to take on the Toronto Raptors on Sunday night. Must Win. Tip off is 7:00 pm and being broadcast on Comcast.

Continue reading this entry »

Brian Lauvray

Chicago Sat Mar 20 2010

The Weekend-What-To-Do

Tailgate's end of the week look at what's going on in and around in Chicago. Also, just as an f.y.i. Opening Day is less than three weeks away and today is officially the first day of spring no matter what odd, fluffy, white substance the sky is dropping upon us this morning.

The Blackhawks and Bulls are on the road

Not the McCarthy novel "The Road" but it might as well be an apocalyptic scenario for the Bulls considering how depleted by injury they are. They take on the 76ers in Philly a night after losing to the Cleveland LeBrons at the UC. This very well could be their 11th straight loss so tune in for the "Can't stop looking. Car. Crash." appeal. Things aren't quite as bleak for the bruised Blackhawks. They head to the desert to take on the Phoenix Coyotes and maybe visit the Chi Sox and Cubs in Tuscon?

Continue reading this entry »

Brian Lauvray

Chicago Mon Mar 15 2010

Two-Point Diversion: Bulls Lose (Again), 'Hawks Drop Two In Row

Blackhawks Drop 2 Over the Weekend

The 'Hawks only dropped two on the schedule, but days after getting Adam Burish back, they lost defenseman Brian Campbell thanks to a vicious push from Washington superstar Alex Ovechkin that sent Campbell into the boards and onto the shelf for at least the soon to start three-game road trip.

Bulls Continue Skid, Hinrich Suspended

Sans Derrick Rose, Luol Deng, Joakim Noah and (eventually, thanks to an ejection) Kirk Hinrich, the Bulls lost their seventh game in a row, to the Miami Heat. Hinrich was ejected after receiving his second technical foul and will be suspended for Tuesday night's game in Memphis. The loss to Miami marked the 10th time in ten games that the Bulls have given up 100 points to an opponent. Good news? Rose's wrist injury is less serious than originally reported and he'll likely return this week.

Brian Lauvray

Chicago Fri Mar 12 2010

Two-Point Diversion: Bulls Lose, Cubs/Sox Head to Sin City

"How To Club A Baby Seal" Starring the Bulls as Baby Seal #s 1-12

Derrick Rose sprained his left wrist in a collision with Magic center, Dwight Howard, at the end of the first quarter and the already injury-depleted Bulls never led in a 29-point pantsing at the hands of Orlando. For the fans keeping score at home, the Bulls now have four of their starting five listed as day-to-day or worse on the injury report.

Vegas, Baby, Vegas.

Cubs vs Sox vs Roulette tables. The Southsiders and the Northsiders are both in Las Vegas for the weekend with split squad games against each other tonight and tomorrow. The lines aren't out yet for whether Jim Hendry has put out a "Casino"-esque hit on Milton Bradley, fyi, you depraved gamblers.


Two-Point Diversion is Tailgate's daily look at Chicago sports news. Read it, use it, sound smarter at the water cooler. Have a tip for us? Drop us a line at our Twitter @GBTailgate

Brian Lauvray

Chicago Thu Mar 11 2010

Two-Point Diversion: 'Hawks Win, More Injured Bulls

Blackhawks Beat Back Kings In OT

Patrick Sharp netted two goals on the Los Angeles Kings Wednesday night with his second being the game winner in overtime. 'Hawks win = good news, but the better news? Adam Burish made his season debut after recovering from surgery to repair a torn ACL. Sidenote: The LA Kings have a goaltender named Jonathan Quick which is just begging for "Not Quick Enough" styled zingers. Just sayin'.

Deng, Miller and Gibson Likely to Miss Orlando/Miami games

The MASH unit that is the 2009-10 Chicago Bulls got more "great news" (sarcasm!) with Luol Deng (strained calf), Brad Miller (gigantism?*) and Taj Gibson (plantar fasciitis) all are likely to sit on the team's two-day, two-city tour of Florida. Thursday Chicago visits the Amway Arena where Dwight Howard will be spelling sacrificial lamb, B-U-L-L and Friday the team will try to slow Dwyane Wade...

*No, not really, Miller's thumb is a little outta whack and yes, I am a doctor and that is the official prognosis.

--Two-Point Diversion is Tailgate's daily info. drop. Have a tip, let us know on our Twitter profile: @GBTailgate

Brian Lauvray

Chicago Tue Mar 09 2010

Rick Telander on the New Playground

A long time ago -- seriously, back in the 1990s -- before every Dick and Jane on the block had a Facebook account, a Twitter account, a Ushare account, a 4square account, their own YouTube channel and at least one blog [You ain't nobody unless you at least have one personal blog to espouse your opinions, natch. -Ed.], people ingested their sports news and information the old-fashioned way -- by reading the newspaper and maybe watching "Sportscenter." Checking the box scores and bemoaning another loss from their favorite team was a pleasure second only to flipping a few pages over and ridiculing their local sports columnist, muttering such comically antiquated phrases as "malarkey," or "claptrap," or "poseur," or "don't go there."

Now, of course, with the Internet everyone has their own vehicle for complaining about their team losing or the ineptitude of certain sports writers. One journalist who has survived this shift in medium and still happily garners plenty of pageviews (both digital and newsprint) for his employer, the Chicago Sun-Times, is Rick Telander.

Continue reading this entry »

Brian Lauvray

Chicago Fri Mar 05 2010

The Chiditarod Cometh!

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For the first four years of its existence the Chiditarod has been "blessed" --in the eyes of its organizers, as a former competitor, I beg to differ-- with miserable weather. Sub-freezing temperatures, flurries, steel-grey skies were de rigueur for Mother Nature during most years. On the off year in Chiditarod's brief existence that the mercury was moderately cooperative --read: above freezing, it is, after all, still, Chicago in early March-- the clouds opened up and doused the few, the proud, the miserably drenched masses of costumed, grocery cart racers with off-then fiercely on-rain showers. So, rejoice! competitors and spectators, the forecast for tomorrow is a deliciously warm high of 46 with sunshine all day.

Continue reading this entry »

Brian Lauvray / Comments (2)

Chicago Fri Mar 05 2010

Two-Point Diversion: Bears, Bulls, Cubs, Sox

Bears Are Going on Shopping Spree!

It's free agent season and the Bears are shopping for a pantry of talent. Lovie Smith flew to Charlotte, North Carolina late on Thursday to court free agent defensive end/avalanche of human bone, muslce and power, Julius Peppers. Peppers, has at times been a mercurial presence but when he's "on" it's "lights out" for opposing offenses. Meanwhile, Chester Taylor, Minnesota's backfield "Hardy" to Adrian Peterson's Stan Laurel is also being courted by the Bears. Check back w. Tailgate here and on our Twitter (yeah, we went there) for updates all weekend.

Bulls Drop One to Memphis, Randolph dominates Chi's frontcourt

No Noah, Mo' Problems! Zach Randolph bulled his way through Chicago's forwards and centers to the tune of 31 points and 18! rebounds as Z-Bo and the Memphis Grizzled Bears fought their way back from deficits of 17 and 10 to steal a road win against the Bulls. Fans frustration rising.

Continue reading this entry »

Brian Lauvray

Chicago Wed Mar 03 2010

Two-Point Diversion: 'Hawks Lose In NY, New Cub Opens Mouth, Words Come Out

Blackhawks Lose to Lowly Islanders

Chicago was leading 2-1 in this game after the first period, but a four-goal avalanche in the second for the Long Islanders, ultimately, was Chicago's demise as the Blackhawks fell 5-3. The [insert-clever-nickname-referencing 'Hawks youth and talent-here] return home tonight to face the Edmonton Oilers.

Curse? What Curse?

Newest Cub [If he doesn't get cut. -Ed.] Kevin Millar thinks the Cubs have a shot at breaking the epic "curse" by having swagger and, I don't know, believing in themselves or something. Millar, by the way, is 38 years old and "hit" at, or near, the Mendoza Line for most of last season, soooo, maybe, Cubs fans, shouldn't take his "advice" to heart. Still the important news to take from that Sun Times article is that baseball is back, which is an awesome fact for the baseball inclined.

Brian Lauvray

Chicago Tue Mar 02 2010

Two-Point Diversion: Bulls Lose, 'Hawks In Action, Bears Waive Pace

Some Days You're the Pillager...

and some days you're the villager. The Bulls, after winning 6 of 7, have dropped two in a row including a resounding 116-92 loss at the hands of the Atlanta Hawks on Monday at the United Center. Chicago was without the services of both Luol Deng and Joakim Noah and Atlanta's oversized and hyper-athletic front court exploited the Noah and Deng-less Bulls like a pack of velociraptors tearing into a pack of young hadrosaurs.

Blackhawks Return from Vancouver, Face Islanders in New York

The Vancouver contingent from the Blackhawks (loaded with various medal discs of differing colors) rejoined the Blackhawks squad before departing for Long Island to meet the New York Islanders tonight. Following the one game road trip the 'Hawks host their next four from the friendly confines of the United Center.

Continue reading this entry »

Brian Lauvray

Chicago Mon Mar 01 2010

Two-Point Diversion: Jordan, Slaughter, 'Hawks

His Airness Buys Charlotte Bobcats

Bulls legend/Greatest Of All Time, Michael Jordan finalized a deal over the weekend to purchase the bedraggled Charlotte Bobcats franchise from former majority owner Bob Johnson. MJ faces an uphill battle in making the team profitable as the team has not been in the black for the majority of its seven year existence.

Toews & Kane net a goal apiece in Gold Medal Match

Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews each scored a goal in the gold medal game at the Vancouver Olympics. Kane scored a goal for Team USA in the losing effort as Toews and Team Canada rode the partisan crowd's enthusiasm to a thrilling overtime win.

Continue reading this entry »

Brian Lauvray

Chicago Mon Feb 22 2010

Bo Jackson Is STILL In Way Better Shape Than You'll Ever Be

Tailgate hates to sound the "You're Getting Old" alarm to anyone in their late 20s or early 30s BUT the famous "Bo Knows" Nike campaign, that series? It's over 20 years old. So if the last time you watched it you were still a mite-sized Bo Jackson imitator on the playground, well, this news might come as a shock to you: Bo Jackson is still in incredible shape (Tailgate has little doubt that Bo could make an alligator say "uncle"). Beyond that, he's a successful entrepreneur (he owns a bank and a series of athletic facilities designed for year-round use); and he's incredibly humble and grateful about the opportunities that his freakish athleticism afforded him. In any case, what have you done with the past 20 years of your life?

This past weekend Jackson opened the doors to his new Lockport, Illinois "Bo Jackson Elite Sports facility" to afford local high school athletes the chance to go through the rigors of an elite athletic training clinic designed specifically for cross-training footballers and baseballers.

Continue reading this entry »

Brian Lauvray

Chicago Tue Feb 16 2010

Two-Point Diversion: Spring Training & Tyrus For Jefferson??

Two-Point Diversion is your daily dose of Chicago sports talking points. Head to the water cooler with knowledge, people.

Don't Look Now But the Cubs Report in Less Than Two Days
Pitchers and catchers are due to report to the Cubs Arizona-based training camp on Wednesday. So if you're looking for a warm, sunny weekend escape from the Chicago winter and you can't wait til Opening Day at Wrigley Field, head to the southwest with your mitt and a sixer of Old Style. The White Sox open up camp on Saturday.

Now The Timber Wolves Want Tyrus??
Seemingly every team in the NBA has given Jon Paxson and Gar Forman a call in the past few weeks to get a "kick the tires" Q 'n A about Tyrus Thomas. The talented and petulant Thomas has been rumored in trade talks to Portland, Denver, San Antonio and now Minnesota. The Bulls who have many a whole to fill would likely get some draft picks for T^2 and potentially some cap space and dusty Kevin Garnett action figures? In any case, Tyrus should expect to forward his mail to a new address and zip code by Thursday's trade deadline.

In other Bulls related news, Derrick Rose sat out practice on Monday at the Berto Center after a solid 15 minutes of run at Sunday's All-Star Game, while Joakim Noah practiced for the first time and is expected to play on Tuesday against the Knicks for the first time in five games.

Brian Lauvray

Chicago Thu Feb 11 2010

Tailgatin' with Tailgate at Chicago Auto Show

Tailgate is reporting live from the Chicago Auto Show this week. Today was the debut of a groundbreaking and radical new design for Indy Car Racers at the hands of Delta Racing. The technology is (if implemented) ready to roll (fingers crossed) by 2012 and Tailgate was lucky enough to nab the CEO of Delta Racing for a quck minute to discuss the potential that this radical design shift might suggest for the future of cars and car racing. What's that? You want the video, dear reader? Ta-da!

Meanwhile, the manly and entertainingly survivalist Jeep was rockin' out at the back of McCormick Center with their rugged and blown out test drive that puts the Jeep Wrangler Rubicon through a vicious (if not pre-determined) criteria of road and wilderness obstacles that your entry-leve 2-door coupe just wet itself by thinking along those lines. The Jeep set-up was fun, exciting and one-of-a-kind. The Chicago Auto Show is the only spot in North America to get the "full Monty" so to speak in terms of daring yourself to not get a neck cramp by gawking off of a 24' manmade hill with a 35-degree incline and decline. I made a modest wager with some of the exhibit staffers and (as the video tells) lost regarding the stability of a cup 'o tea on the Jeep Excursion. Watch and witness as I burn my socks and ankle flesh!

Brian Lauvray

Chicago Wed Feb 10 2010

Two-Point Diversion: Chicago Auto Show Revs Up, Bulls Win

Chicago Auto Show Opens This Weekend, Plan Accordingly

Tailgate is reporting live from the CAS Media Days all week, and we can already tell you there are some drool-worthy cars at the Chicago Auto Show. Additionally, we'll be providing coverage of breaking auto news (hint, green & technology) along with other notable news and ephemera from the McCormick Center. The doors open up to the public starting on Friday morning and we'll mirthfully provide you with pics/video to entice and riddle your car-hungry minds until the weekend.

Bulls Beat Pacers, Snow, Earthquake

The Joakim Noah-less Bulls handled the Indiana Pacers for only their fourth ever victory at Indy's Conseco Field House. Luol Deng ate his Wheaties as dude was everywhere on the court with a team leading 23 points, 11 boards, 3 steals, 2 blocks, 2 assists on an efficient .500 night from the field. Additionally, Deng put out a burning orphanage and shoveled Vinny Del Negro's driveway 'cause he's a nice guy. Danny Granger dropped 27 and 10 for the Pacers.

Brian Lauvray

Chicago Wed Feb 03 2010

Two-Point Diversion: Bulls Lose, Blackhawks Face Blues

Two-Point Diversion is Tailgate's daily look at news and miscellanea from the bounty of Chicago related sports...

That's the Bulls Team We're Used To
After going 5-2 on recent road trip and knocking off five straight +.500 teams in doing so, the Bulls came back to earth last night in their return to the United Center. Chicago fell 90-82 against the Los Angeles Clippers, Derrick Rose scored 16 points on a painfully bad 7-20 from the field. In other Bulls/D.Rose news, the point guard will be facing off with Steve Nash (Phoenix), Deron Williams (Utah) and rookie Brandon Jennings (Milwaukee) in the Taco Bell Skills Challenge over All-Star Weekend. This is a very challenging field as Rose, Nash and Williams have all won the contest, with Nash winning in 2005, Williams winning (and setting the all time record in 25.5 seconds) in 2008. Jennings hasn't competed in anything like this yet, but he did drop 55 points back in November which is more points in a game than those other guys...

Continue reading this entry »

Brian Lauvray

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