Blackhawks

Byfuglien, Eager, Sopel traded to Atlanta for picks

Per Jesse Rogers, in the first of what may be many salary cap-related trades, Stan Bowman  sent  Dustin Byfuglien, Brent Sopel  and  Ben Eager  to the Atlanta Thrashers for a first- and second-round pick.

More details later as they come in, along with analysis.

UPDATE:  ‘Hawks receiving the 24th and 54th overall picks in Friday’s draft, plus prospect Jeremy Morin and veteran Marty Reasoner.

ANOTHER UPDATE:  ‘Hawks prospect  Akim Aliu  is included in the deal.

With the 30th pick, the Chicago Blackhawks select…

Tyler Toffoli, C, from the Ottawa 67s of the OHL.

The first-ever FanSided NHL Mock Draft will be posted today on the network’s new general NHL blog, Too Many Men On The Site. Be sure to check it out as you prepare for Friday.

From the start, I hoped Toffoli would last this long — and he also may be there at 30 for the actual NHL Draft. If so, the Blackhawks would be wise to take him for a few different reasons.

Toffoli is a raw talent. I watched him play when the NHL Network ran some OHL games and I saw a kid who has a lot of potential but is nowhere near NHL-ready — which is just fine, given the status of the Blackhawks farm system. There’s good depth at the forward position, plus enough prospects at defense giving the ‘Hawks the luxury of taking a chance on a raw, talented player like Toffoli.

Akim Aliu, Evan Brophy, Nathan Davis, Bryan Bickell, Jake Dowell, etc., will be NHL regulars before Toffoli, giving Toffoli time to develop his game. The general consensus on Toffoli from scouting reports says he’s not particularly stellar at any given aspect. What he has is a natural ability to score.

Toffoli came in ranked from 15 to 20 before the previous season began. His draft stock dipped a bit because of a horrible start to the year. But Toffoli bounced back to 79 points (37A, 42 G) in 65 games in the OHL.

If Toffoli is availabe at 30, it could be a steal for the Blackhawks. He’d be entering the NHL with more refined skills — He just turned 18 — by the time Jonathan Toews  and  Patrick Kane  are in the middle of their extensions.

The draft is Friday from Los Angeles and will be televised on NHL Network. Let’s find out if I’m right.

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Blackhawks Theater: Jackie Moon as John McDonough

NOTE: In every sports-themed movie, each character plays a distinctive role for their fictional squad. Blackhawks Theather will compare those characters and their roles with those of the Stanley Cup champion Chicago Blackhawks. This segment will run each and every day for the next month at 10 a.m. CST. That should keep us all busy up to and throughout the Capocalypse. Enjoy.

Though you won’t see  John McDonough wrestling a bear anytime soon, his PR savvy and built-in knowledge to sell his product have led to over 100 consecutive sellouts at the United Center and counting.

McDonough’s promotions are far less shady than those of  Jackie Moon’s (Semi Pro), but each had a goal in mind: Drive up attendance and resurrect a dormant franchise to relevance. McDonough succeeded in a difficult task to mend strained relationships with Blackhawk greats like  Bobby Hull and brought them back for a multitude of  Heritage Nights, which the fans ate up.

Just like Moon’s Flint Tropics proved, winning sure does help. McDonough’s been criticized for his constant desire to be in the spotlight. It’s even been joked about on certain blogs that McDonough was going to throw another parade to celebrate the victory parade. But no one can doubt McDonough’s genius in making the ‘Hawks a fan-friendly franchise — something rarely experienced during the  Bill Wirtz years.

Both Moon and McDonough pulled out all the stops to get their respective franchise noticed. Let’s just hope McDonough doesn’t try and sing “Love Me Sexy.”

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Blackhawks Theater: Ebby Calvin ‘Nuke’ LaLoosh as Patrick Kane

NOTE: In every sports-themed movie, each character plays a distinctive role for their fictional squad. Blackhawks Theather will compare those characters and their roles with those of the Stanley Cup champion Chicago Blackhawks. This segment will run each and every day for the next month at 10 a.m. CST. That should keep us all busy up to and throughout the Capocalypse. Enjoy.

At their age, the amount of talent possessed by each of these wunderkinds stopped people in their tracks to catch a glimpse. And like many young talents with money and fame coming so quickly, the ego and sense of invincibility took over at times.

No one every questioned the potential of Ebby Calvin “Nuke” LaLoosh (Bull Durham). The kid threw 100 m.p.h and could strike out any hitter at any given time. Lack direction, his ego led to a bar fight with a veteran over a woman and his sexual escapades became more important to him than his control. He struggled in the face of having to tone down his attitude and ego with some direction, and eventually “Nuke” ended up in The Show, knowing exactly what to say when confronted by the media.

Patrick Kane draws a parallel. His off-season arrest for a confrontation with a Buffalo cab driver humbled him to the podium in front of his toughest critics to deliver an emotionless speech before USA training camp. If that wasn’t enough of a lesson, photos surfaced of Kane and teammates with their shirts off partying in a limo in Vancouver. Once again, he was forced to explain himself.

Sometimes we all forget athletes are human beings, too. If I was asked to tell stories of my days as a 21-year-old single male to people ready to make judgments, my presence would be banned in 30 states. The spotlight thrust the lives of “Nuke” and Kane into the public eye, and they struggled coming to grips with it.

The main comparison? Both “Nuke” and Kane succeeded and reached their ultimate goal — “Nuke” to The Majors, Kane winning the Stanley Cup. Maybe a little shit storm when you’re young isn’t all that bad.

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PUCKCAST: Blackhawk Up and HOCKEENIGHT get nasty

Once again, I appeared on the HOCKEENIGHT PUCKCAST with Forklift and CT to discuss a whole bunch of shit. However, I stayed pretty much silent during Fork’s tales of Cuban beastiality. No joke, he talked about some Cuban guy having sex with animals.

Enjoy.

Thank you readers, followers and those who merely stop in for a glance

Award-winning parade shot of Patrick Kane, courtesy of Jeffrey Erikson

I just wanted to post a quick thank you to those who have consistently come to Blackhawk Up throughout this season to read my passionate ramblings and continuous use of random four-letter words.

When I started Blackhawk Up in July of last year, I never expected the following I would gather and that the growth of the site would happen so quickly. It’s been less than a year I’ve been swearing at you, and all the kind words through comments, emails, Facebook messages and Twitter re-tweets have been absolutely amazing.

All of you made the Blackhawks winning the Stanley Cup that much sweeter for one specific reason: I got to share in the experience with all of you. It’s been a wild ride to this point, and there’s so much more to go.

Get on your Hossa, ride into the off-season with a smile on your face and continue to check in to this site through the summer months. I have some big stuff planned, so there won’t be a shortage of content during hockey’s brief summer hiatus.

Once again, thank you to everyone who continues to read Blackhawk Up. You make the time I spend on each and every word I write completely and totally worthwhile. Thank you.

Blackhawks won the Stanley Cup, now Make-A-Wish for charity

I’ve posted this before, and it deserves more attention. The puck set is beautiful, and the proceeds to go charity. Don’t be cheap. Go get yourself a set.

Hawks Fans Can Celebrate Stanley Cup Title

With Special Commemorative 2-Puck Set with Cases

Make-A-Wish Foundation® of Illinois

Smiling As Hawks End 49-Year Drought

Only 5,000 Special Cup Items Will Be Produced To Raise Funds

For Youngsters Who Have Life-Threatening Illnesses

Chicago– It’s almost like a bunch of cobwebs have been removed and replaced by young and middle-aged cheering fans.  It is a new ERA for Chicago Blackhawks fans, a season that finally ended with a bang, not a whimper.

For the first time in 49 years, the fabled Stanley Cup will now call Chicago home, as the Blackhawks stunned the Philadelphia Flyers, 4-3, in overtime on Patrick Kane’s goal in Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Finals on June 9, ending decades of frustration for their loyal fans.  The last time the Hawks were Cup champs was in 1961, when John F. Kennedy was in the White House.

And no one is any happier than the youngsters at the Make-A-Wish Foundation® of Illinois, many of who have life-threatening medical conditions and depend on this organization to fulfill some special wishes.  Just like these young boys and girls who never give up hope, fans of the Blackhawks never gave up on winning the Stanley Cup again.

And to help celebrate this special hockey moment, and raise some needed funds for the local Make-A-Wish kids, Nikco Sports announced it will be offering a special, limited edition commemorative Stanley Cup championship 2-puck set manufactured by Sherwood Hockey, the official hockey puck of the NHL, complete with display cases, to preserve this special time in Chicago sports history. Only 5,000 sets will be produced, with the goal of adding to the more than $1.7 million that Nikco Sports has raised for children’s charities in recent years.

The two pucks are licensed by the National Hockey League and can be ordered on a first-come basis for $39.95 by calling 1-800-345-2868 or ordering online at www.nikcosports.com.  Each purchase comes with a numbered certificate of authenticity to enhance the value and collectibility of this special piece of sports memorabilia.  There will be a limit of 5 sets per order, to ensure that as many Blackhawks fans as possible get a piece of history.

The Blackhawks team puck will feature the historic and colorful Hawks official team logo, and salute their four Stanley Cup championships won in 1933-34, 1937-38 and 1960-61 and the latest one during the 2009-2010 season. It will also list the conference titles captured in 1992 and 2010 and acknowledge their 14 Division titles.  On this puck will be the words “Stanley Cup Champions.” Any customer who ordered the limited edition set recently when it was introduced as a Stanley Cup appearance puck set will have their sets upgraded to include Stanley Cup Champions.

The second puck is a tribute to the 2009-2010 season and will have the official Stanley Cup logo and Western Conference logo and then a recap of each playoff series triumph over Nashville, Vancouver, San Jose and Philadelphia, as well as celebrating the Hawks 52-22-8 (OT): Points–112 Season Record and Central Division Championship, giving Hawks fans a great way to reflect back on the many happy moments during the season.

The Hawks finished the playoffs by winning 16 of 22 contests. Many Hawks fans still point to a last second goal by Kane in Game 5 of the opening series against Nashville that tied the game and propelled the Hawks to beat the Predators in overtime as a key turning point.  Chicago went on to win that series, 4 games to 2, then did the same thing in the second round against Vancouver.  That led to a 4-0 sweep in a tight series against the San Jose Sharks.  The Hawks won 2-1, 4-2, 3-2 (OT) and 4-2.

Then came a 4-2 series victory over the Flyers, including the clincher in OT.

It seemed like most every game was a nail biter.

“Chicago was a team of destiny, with its never-say-die attitude and hard work ethic,” noted Nikco Sports CEO Craig Bidner.  “Blackhawks fans waited a very long time to win another Stanley Cup, and the celebration in Chicago will go on for weeks, if not all summer.  It was quite the season.  The way this team battled and worked hard reminds me of how so many youngsters who are involved with the Make-A-Wish Foundation® of Illinois also battle on an ongoing basis. It makes our staff at Nikco Sports proud to play a small part in this special Stanley Cup commemorative program that is raising funds for these deserving youngsters.”

During the past several years, Nikco Sports has raised more than $1.7 million for charitable organizations across the nation with the issue of limited-edition sports memorabilia that has honored amateur and professional teams, as well as select athletes such athletes as Dan Marino, Brett Favre, Jerome Bettis, Ben Roethlisberger, along with Peyton Manning, Jim Kelly, Carson Palmer, Steve Young, John Elway, David Robinson, John Stockton, Magic Johnson, Roger Clemens, Ryne Sandberg, Paul Molitor, Kirby Puckett, Edgar Martinez, Ichiro, Ozzie Smith, Mark McGwire, Ken Griffey Jr., Nolan Ryan, Tony Gwynn, Craig Biggio and Cal Ripken Jr.

From the heart: Blackhawks bring Stanley Cup back to Chicago

Game 4, 1992 Stanley Cup Final.  Mario Lemieux  saw a 10-year-old boy pressed along the glass during the pre-game skate. Lemieux snatch a puck from the ice, lofted it over the glass into the boy’s tiny hands, winked and skated away.

That boy was me, and since that day my passion for hockey never died. When I saw Lemieux circling the Chicago Stadium ice with the Stanley Cup later that night, I hoped one day I would witness a Blackhawk doing the exact same thing.

Never let anyone tell you dreams don’t come true.

The rough stretches, the questionable trades which ran heroes out of town too soon, the edge of the cliff on which the franchise teetered for years, money invested, time spent, heart-shattering losses, watching the hated Red Wings win four Cups … it was all worth it. It will always be worth it. June 9, 2010 is a day only death can take away from me.

People wonder how I can talk this way about a team, a game. “There are more important things in life than sports,” they say, all while updating their Facebook status and planning their entire night around an episode of Jersey Shore. “How can you be so emotional over that stuff?”

With all the uncertainties in life, all the emotions spent on everyday events and questioning of the decisions you make day-to-day, hour-to-hour, minute-to-minute, it’s always guaranteed your team will begin play on the first day of the season at the same time every year. The players may struggle, may disappoint and you’ll even question your loyalty. But no matter what, you’re always given the option to struggle with them or share in their joy. And when you invest yourself hoping for the opportunity to witness something as amazing as Stanley Cup championship, it’s a feeling you’ll remember for the rest of your life. There’s not many things you can say that about.

Patrick Kane  scoring just over four minutes into overtime erased 49 years of Blackhawks fans feeling the disappointment of watching another team and another city embrace the Stanley Cup. People poured out into the streets, and hundreds of thousands of fans will rally for the parade tomorrow in downtown Chicago.

The waiting is over, the dream has been realized and the memory is ingrained.

And do you know what the best part is? We’re guaranteed to do this all over again next year.

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They did it. Chicago Blackhawks: 2010 Stanley Cup champions

This is all you’re getting from me tonight. I’ll be along tomorrow with a very heart-felt rendition of why this victory is so important to me. I still can’t believe it….

The 4th one is the toughest: Blackhawks-Flyers, Game 6 preview

It ends tonight. No more worrying, no more nervousness, no more games at the United Center. I’m ready for the 2009-10 hockey season to be over, and so are the Blackhawks.

Most sports experts will tell us the pressure rests on the ‘Hawks tonight to close out the series in Philadelphia and avoid coming back to Chicago for an always-tense Game 7. Well, forget it. Not only are the Flyers fighting for their season tonight, Q-Stache laid out the blueprint for victory in Game 5. His line shuffling had the Flyers on their heels most of the night, and it’s up to Peter Laviolette  and Philadelphia to provide resistence to the Blackhawks new-look attack.

In Game 3, Laviolette’s last-change advantage led to Philadelphia’s OT winner as the ‘Hawks struggled to get their desired personnel on the ice. He’ll use that same advantage tonight in hopes of countering the ‘Hawks offense. Still, he needs to figure out when to put  Chris Pronger  on the ice now that  Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane  and  Dustin Byfuglien  have been split up.

The Flyers’ aggressive forecheck didn’t do much to keep the ‘Hawks at bay, especially in the first period when most of the damage was done. In Game 4, Philadelphia caused havoc in the Blackhawks’ zone with  Mike Richards  making the most notable play when he swiped the puck from  Niklas Hjalmarsson  and slipping it five-hole past  Antti Niemi.  They’ll need more of that tonight to create more offense for guys like  Scott Hartnell, Claude Giroux  and  Ville Leino  – all of whom the Blackhawks are having trouble containing.

Michael Leighton  will get the start tonight after being yanked for the second time in the series in Game 5. Niemi has been sketchy for most of the series, and the Blackhawks will need his top performance to withstand the Flyers, who are sure to come out amped in front of their home crowd.

OK, I’m done analyzing this game because my stomach is turning writing this. Bottom line, the Blackhawks have a chance to clinch their first Stanley Cup championship in 49 years.

Go get it, ‘Hawks.

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