Bartl

Editor/founder of Cheer the Anthem, season ticket holder in Section 326 and full-time sports writer who lists June 9, 2010, as one of the greatest days of his life. Contact him at jeffrey.bartl@gmail.com.


Posts by Bartl

The Blackhawks’ Offseason Drama: Seinfeld Style – Part III

I honestly can’t believe this is my third year doing this. But alas, it will never get old quoting Seinfeld. With the Blackhawks making some significant moves to revamp the team and Patrick Kane being in the news once again, it’s time to let Jerry, George, Kramer and Elaine take the reins.

Part I in 2009 featured quotes such as: “Well you know when you break up and say things you don’t mean? Well he says the mean things you don’t mean and he means them,” dedicated to Martin Havlat and his Twitter escapades.

Part II in 2010 brought you: “Have you ever been through an audit? It’s the financial equivalent of a complete rectal examination,” referencing the Capocolypse.

Let’s see what’s in store for Part III, with events in no particular order …

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Rest Your Hearts: Patrick Kane’s Injury Minor Blip In Drama-Free Offseason

The main problem I’ve had during this offseason for the Blackhawks begins and ends with my four days spent in Boston two weekends ago, when for four days I witnessed Bruins fans with hats and t-shirts bearing their latest accomplishment.

That’s it. Everything else has been smooth, even with Patrick Kane having surgery to fix a broken bone in his wrist. Compared to the Capacolypse beginning mere days after the Blackhawks’ Stanley Cup victory, Stan Bowman has given us a very a nice 2011 summer.

To clear my opinion quickly regarding Kane’s injury, calm the flying hell down. If anything, celebrate the fact it was caught at the perfect time to fit in the requisite surgery and recovery time. I broke my wrist in high school and was back on the basketball court at full strength less than a week after the cast was removed. He’s still a kid and recovers much quicker than if, say, Andrew Brunette would if he snapped his wrist. He’ll heal, and we won’t be thinking about this anymore after he’s a point-per-game forward again this season.

It’s the little drama we’ve experienced as fans during an offseason we should be thankful for heading into the season. After Kane’s offseason from hell in 2010, we should be extra thankful he discovered an injury while working out. The Blackhawks are a better team than when Game 7 ended, and that’s what everyone should be thinking about leading up to this quiet time until training camp.

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Honoring Norval Nelson, a True American Hero, on Independence Day

Norval Nelson with Jim Cornelison (Photo courtesy of Jennifer Ciepley)

When fan of the site Jennifer Ciepley contacted me back in April about her husband’s 92-year-old grandfather, I was touched with a wonderful story about a man who is the true definition of an American hero.

Before Game 6 against the Vancouver Canucks, World War II veteran Norval Nelson stood next to Anthem singer Jim Cornelison as the crowd cheered every word. Jennifer gave me the story behind Mr. Nelson, and I felt the need to write a post detailing his experiences as one of the few surviving U.S. Navy divers during the D-Day invasion June 6, 1944.

Jennifer informed me through email Mr. Nelson died Saturday, surrounded by his three daughters after passing away peacefully in his sleep.

Mr. Nelson’s family likely won’t forget the night he was able to be honored by the Chicago Blackhawks’ wonderful tradition, and Jennifer wrote of how much fun Mr. Nelson had that evening.

Here’s to a true American hero. Thank you for everything, Mr. Nelson.

Have a fun and safe 4th, everyone.

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Tampering Week: Andrew Ladd

The Blackhawks are poised to make some changes after a disappointing 2010-11 season, and with cap space to spare this offseason there’s potential for some quality moves. Blackhawk Up will take a look at who’s available for Stan Bowman to pursue over the next week. However, Bowman cannot negotiate before July 1 – or should he? On the docket today is Atlanta Thra…err, Winnipeg forward Andrew Ladd.

"How 'bout this view, Stanley?"

CONTRACT STATUS: Restricted free agent; $2.35M cap hit in 2010-11

2010-11 STATS: 81 GP; 29 G; 30 A; minus-10; 9 PP goals; career-high 14.9 shot percentage

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Tampering Week: Ville Leino

The Blackhawks are poised to make some changes after a disappointing 2010-11 season, and with cap space to spare this offseason there’s potential for some quality moves. Blackhawk Up will take a look at who’s available for Stan Bowman to pursue over the next week. However, Bowman cannot negotiate before July 1 – or should he? On the docket today is Philadelphia Flyers forward Ville Leino.

Photo: Getty Images

CONTRACT STATUS: Unrestricted free agent; $800k cap hit in 2010-11 ($825k salary)

2010-11 STATS: 81 GP; 19 G; 34 A; plus-14; 117 SOG

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Tampering Week: Brandon Dubinsky

The Blackhawks are poised to make some changes after a disappointing 2010-11 season, and with cap space to spare this offseason there’s potential for some quality moves. Blackhawk Up will take a look at who’s available for Stan Bowman to pursue over the next week. However, Bowman cannot negotiate before July 1 – or should he? On the docket today is New York Rangers forward Brandon Dubinsky.

Pucker up, buttercup. (Associated Press)

CONTRACT STATUS: Restricted Free Agent; $1.850 million cap hit in 2010-11

2010-11 STATS: 77 GP; 24 G; 30 A; 100 PIM; minus-3; 2 GWG

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Tampering Week: Introduction

"My lips are sealed."

Last offseason became one of expected loss as Stan Bowman faced the daunting task of keeping the Blackhawks salary-cap compliant. With that and a disappointing 2010-11 season behind us, it’s time to enter another offseason of change – this one hopefully for the better.

With July 1 approaching and the ‘Hawks possessing some wiggle room under the cap, we’re going to take a look at who they may be able to afford when the time comes. However, Bowman isn’t allowed to speak to potential free agents until the clock officially strikes midnight.

That’s where Tim and I come in. We’ll be breaking down free agents over the next week (maybe longer) to determine who Bowman should risk the fine for to get a jump on other teams, and who he should leave alone until it’s legal – or at all.

Of course, we all know the Blackhawks would never dream of breaking NHL rules and couldn’t possibly ever even think of tampering with a potential free agent. However, for the sake of having some fun, let’s play along.

The posts will start shortly, but we wanted to give you the opportunity to tell us your suggestions for who the Blackhawks may pursue. Make a case and we’ll put together a post.

Fire away, ya’ll.

*Thanks to our friends at Nets are Scorching for help with the idea.

The Greatest Moment I Didn’t Know Happened: Happy 1-year, ‘Hawks Fans

"Yeah, you can just engrave my name right .... here." (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

With the next goal determining either a long-awaited championship or an anything-can-happen Game 7, the last thing I ever wanted to experience was confusion.

At 10:06 p.m. on June 9, 2010, those who packed into the tiny J&M at Augusta Blvd. and Oakley were just as bewildered as I. The puck was gone, the Philadelphia Flyers looked stunned and Patrick Kane was undressing faster than a slut on prom night.

It must’ve gone in. Did it go in? I think it went in…

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‘Hawks sign Crawford to 3-year deal

Breaking news via every Blackhawks beat writer on Twitter: Goaltender Corey Crawford has signed a three-year deal. A conference call is scheduled for 3:30 p.m. central time, when more details should be shared on the situation.

After the debacle with Antti Niemi following last season, it’s nice to get this done early to save for any stress. I’ll be on to update things as they come along, including the dollar amount.

UPDATE: Multiple reports say Crow’s deal is for $8 million, making his cap hit $2.6 million per season. Crawford is now making more money than Los Angeles’ Jonathan Quick and Detroit’s Jimmy Howard.

Overall, this is fantastic news for the Blackhawks for a couple of reasons. First, there’s no more wondering who is going to be the starting goaltender, meaning for the first time in four seasons the ‘Hawks will enter training camp without any sort of goaltending questions. Secondly, the dollar amount is slightly more than we may have expected, but it’s not by much.

Between getting Crawford locked up and being able to do it for this price, the Blackhawks did very well on this one.

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Season Review: Channeling The Captain, Jonathan Toews

For those of you familiar with the Boxing feature here at Blackhawk Up, you’re well aware I have the extreme privilege of channeling the mind of ‘Hawks captain Jonathan Toews. Despite the fact the Blackhawks are currently making tee times, I was once again able to get into the mind of the fearless leader and read his thoughts on his individual season.

It was very difficult, I might add. Toews doesn’t much care for singling out players, including himself. If you remember when Toews skated back toward his teammates holding the Conn Smythe Trophy after the ‘Hawks won the Stanley Cup, he clearly reinforced the team accomplishment by stating, “This is for you guys.”

He’s the clear definition of the consummate team player – unselfish, willing to be the voice when needed and perfectly able to lead when asked. And, more importantly, capable of putting an entire team on his back to win for them, not just him.

That Selke Trophy nomination? Great. I’m sure he’d like to add more hardware to an already impressive collection. But it’ll never mean as much to Toews as that big silver chalice or gold medal, simply because it represents team.

Here’s a look at his season stats, followed by Toews’ season review of himself and my grade, since he’s too humble to possibly grade himself.

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A Pleasant Surprise: Corey Crawford Responds with Stellar Season

No time soon will Blackhawks fans forget Antti Niemi and his contributions during the Stanely Cup run last season. What many may not remember is Niemi and Corey Crawford were viewed equally for the backup goaltending job behind Cristobal Huet prior to 2009-10.

With Niemi out of AHL options and Crawford’s contract still at two-way status, Niemi may have won that job simply based off default and not talent. Rather than collecting a Stanley Cup ring, Crawford toiled in Rockford for another season and didn’t give up hope his time would come.

He got his shot this season, and what a hell of an impression he made.

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Want to Trade Him? Think Again: Season Review of Patrick Kane

Credit: Brian Cassella, McClatchy-Tribune

Patrick Kane hasn’t always been the model citizen during his tenure with the Blackhawks. Between cabbie incidents, limo parties and random drunken photos, Kaner has put himself in positions fans – and the ‘Hawks themselves – have frowned upon.

But for all the tomfoolery, I’m stunned at the amount of discussion regarding Kane being shipped out of town. Remember, most of that partying wouldn’t have been possible without his Stanley Cup-clinching goal which sent us fans into many nights of inebriation.

His numbers speak pretty highly of his value. Kane has amassed 303 points in 317 career regular-season games, and another 48 points in 45 playoff contests.  Did expectations rise among fans after the cabbie incident? After the limo party? Sure, and he responded with the most famous goal in franchise history.

I’d say those standards were met, and then some. Here’s a look at Kane’s 2010-11 numbers:

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A Handsome Season: Patrick Sharp

There’s no question Patrick Sharp is a very handsome man. His numbers this season were awfully attractive as well.

With secondary scoring taking a hit due to departures during the offseason, Sharp provided the Blackhawks with a boost through to his unfortunate injury toward the end of the regular season. It was evident how valuable his presence was during the stretch run, when the ‘Hawks had to fight to the final day for a playoff spot.

Here’s what Sharp did this season:

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Season Review: Blackhawks Forwards

For all the deficiencies of the Blackhawks’ defense – which Tim will get to tomorrow – the offense actually played pretty well. Scoring didn’t seem to be the issue, as the ‘Hawks finished fourth in the NHL with 252 goals – just six behind league-leading Vancouver.

Jonathan Toews (76), Patrick Kane (73) and Patrick Sharp (71) each put up a good amount of points, but neither of those three will be on today’s list. The three who made up the top line for a good part of the season – plus Marian Hossa - will be reviewed on their own in the coming week.

Here’s a look at the rest, with a 4-Indian Head grade being the best.

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Bye Bye, Stanley: Upcoming Schedule of Blackhawk Up Season Reviews

The Chicago Blackhawks’ defense of the Stanley Cup ended a bit more prematurely than we wanted, but the wild ride had to come to an end at some point. Fortunately for you, loyal reader, the site must go on. And us idiots aren’t done yet.

Tim and I have put together a schedule of what’s to come over the next week as we review each player through different types of posts. That means we will be forcing our opinions on you for the next week – like it or not.

The forwards and defensemen will be handled with separate posts including our grades. Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane, Patrick Sharp, Marian Hossa, Duncan Keith, Brent Seabrook, Corey Crawford and Marty Turco will be featured in separate, in-depth reviews.

Here’s the upcoming schedule for reviews over the next week for you to keep track:

Tuesday:   Forwards
Wednesday:   Defense
Thursday:   Sharp (morning), Seabrook (evening)
Friday:   Kane (morning), Hossa (evening)
Saturday:   Turco (morning), Crawford (evening)
Sunday:   Off day
Monday:  Keith (morning), Toews (evening)

As you have all season, hopefully you continue to check in with us idiots as we break everything down and spark some discussion amongst you folk. Also, if anyone is interested in live chats on the site for those of you following those day’s games as the playoffs continue, let me know. I’ll also post a feeler on the Facebook fan page.

Thanks again for everyone who made this such a great season by following along with us. We’re not done yet.

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Too Many Men on the Site

Despite Criticism, Bowman Got it Right Choosing Crawford Over Niemi

When Blackhawks general manager Stan Bowman decided to let Antti Niemi walk rather than match his arbitration award, the fanbase held its breath collectively.

How could Bowman not lock up the only Blackhawks goaltender in 49 years to lead the franchise to a Stanley Cup and turn to a netminder past his prime? Forget the salary-cap constraints, fans said, Niemi is the backbone the ‘Hawks needed to make another run.

Bowman instead signed Marty Turco to take Niemi’s spot in goal, though Bowman’s decision wasn’t as black and white as the critics made it seem. He didn’t choose Turco over Niemi, he chose Corey Crawford – and rightfully so.

Supposedly hamstrung after matching San Jose’s four-year, $14 million offer sheet for Niklas Hjalmarsson, Bowman simply couldn’t afford the $2.75 million salary due Niemi following the hearing. Bowman insisted he made multi-year offers to Niemi and his agent following the Cup run, but Niemi’s camp never bit and took the Blackhawks all the way to the end.

And that may have been Bowman’s plan all along.

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Sofa King Depressing: Stanley Cup Defense Ends in Game 7

 

UPDATED APRIL 27 @ 10:47 A.M. with Henrietta Sedin’s asshole comment

(Chicago Tribune)

The Chicago Blackhawks’ defense of the Stanley Cup ended just as it began — with an overtime goal no one saw coming. Fittingly, the Blackhawks’ season ended on an in-zone turnover, which has plagued them all season.

If you’re looking for any “Rah-rah! They came back from 0-3 and that’s great in itself!”, then go somewhere else. You’re not going to find that here. At least not yet. The ups and downs of tonight’s game have put me into a state of depression only alcohol can lift me from. And even that didn’t do much help tonight.

It’s going to take some time for me to gather up any rational thoughts regarding the Game 7 overtime loss, so your best bet is to check back later. I’m in no mood, and I can’t guarantee when I will be.

Not one thing is screaming positive to me, and rather than put up another post like the one I did in last year’s playoffs, I’ll just concede to the night and bury my thoughts deep inside one of the worst sports moments I’ve ever experienced in my 29-plus years on this earth.

UPDATED, APRIL 27 @ 10:47 A.M….

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The Day-After Calm: Blackhawks Haven’t Won Anything Yet

Credit: Nuccio DiNuzzo, Chicago Tribune

I know first-hand the excitment everyone is feeling after the Game 6 overtime victory, which forced an improbable Game 7 on Tuesday in Vancouver. Battling back from 0-3 to force a deciding game is an accomplishment in itself – and a rather exciting one to boot.

After Ben Smith flipped the winner over Roberto Luongo, I was so excited I couldn’t be cooped up in a cab or on the bus. I live two miles north of the United Center up Damen Ave. in Wicker Park, and I walked every step of the way home. I even stopped in a couple bars to have a celebratory drink.

Some gloating and a nice sleep later, I’ve finally come back to Earth to realize the most important thing: The Blackhawks haven’t won anything yet, and they may have put us fans in a worse position to suffer heart failure than if they were simply swept away.

The roller coaster ride of this series resembles the entire 82-game season nearly as much as the Sedin twins do each other – and it’s been nearly just as ugly. Injuries, storylines, depths of despair, moments of hope, more painful miscues, then a rise to get us all back on the teeter-tottering bandwagon named “Repeat.”

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Game 89. See You There, Vancouver: Boxing with ‘Hawks/Canucks, Game 6

Looks familiar. (Chicago Tribune)

Epic.

Game 6 had it all. Pregame storylines, dismay, euphoria … then overtime, with the Blackhawks season either continuing or crumbling with the next goal.

Alain Vineauglt displayed his 10-pound sack by benching Vezina Trophy finalist Roberto Luongo in favor of 25-year-old Cory Schneider in a game Vancouver absolutely needed to head back home happy. And even the most daring of moves left Luongo skating off the ice with his hair gel being the only thing waiting at his locker not passing judgment.

Much like the ‘Hawks have been doing thing this entire series, they fought from behind. Down 1-0, 2-1 and 3-2, the Blackhawks tied it each time. Then Ben Smith flicked the end of Game 88 past a sprawling Luongo to guarantee a win-or-go-home Game 89. While Blackhawks fans are celebrating just getting back into this series, hoping to complete a historic comeback in Game 7, Canucks fans are already sending out their mourning letters to their beloved squad, demanding – not hoping for – a victory before all faith is lost.

There’s plenty of bad we can go over. Farting pucks all over the ice, the three third-period shots – two if you don’t count Michael Frolik’s penalty shot – the Canucks seemingly dominating most of the game, and the heart-wrenching which goes along with overtime playoff hockey knowing your team will meet its demise with the opponent’s next goal.

Things need to be fixed before Tuesday, and part of me believes the Blackhawks were lucky to get out of Chicago with a victory knowing Vancouver played nearly its best hockey of the entire series. On top of that, 1:43 of 5-on-3 went to waste, with the kick in the dick coming when Coach Q used his only timeout to draw up a bunch of shit which obviously didn’t work. The fact the Blackhawks’ only lead came after Smith’s goal is indicative of how a good portion of Game 6 played out. While it feels good to celebrate now, Game 7 won’t go as well if the same screw-ups happen as they did Sunday.

For the second time in this series, each member of the Dave Bolland line notched a goal. Bolland played a key role in two, destroying Dan Hamhuis to force the turnover on Bryan Bickell’s goal, then potting his own off Kaner’s feed from Schneider’s piss-poor clearing attempt.

The Blackhawks still will be facing elimination in the next game. But so will Vancouver, which seems improbable after the first three games of this series. The pressure is still on the Canucks, who need to avoid a collapse of epic proportions and the most embarrassing “History Will Be Made” video ever.

I’ll do the rest of my talking in Boxing…

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