Blackhawks

Training Camp In A Sentence

Photo: ChicagoTribune.com

It’s been hard to keep one’s chin up these last several weeks. Tragedy was heaped upon tragedy with the successive untimely deaths of three NHL veterans, followed by the unimaginable plane crash in western Russia that killed the entire Lokomotiv Yaroslavl team. It has been hard to get excited about the upcoming season, let alone engage in the good-natured trash-talking across social media that always accompanies the advent of a new year.

So with a heavy heart, I will take a deep breath and say a prayer for the departed and their loved ones. I ask that you do the same.

As I exhale, I will do what we all must: give myself permission to move on. I ask that you do the same.

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It’s almost hockey season, ladies and gerbils. Training camp starts Friday. For those of you who are just joining us after a long, boring summer, welcome back — and pay attention. We have a significant amount of turnover since last year, and it’s almost all for the good. Additionally, the emergency appendectomy for Patrick Sharp earlier this week throws a wrench into what originally was a pretty cut-and-dried training camp.

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Blackhawks Acquire Mini-Serious

Photo: Zimbio.com

Today it was announced that the Blackhawks have acquired David Toews from the New York Islanders for future considerations. David Toews is the younger brother of Blackhawks Captain Jonathan Toews.

The younger Toews is 21 years old, also a center, and shoots right. He played for the Brandon Wheat Kings last season, and their web site lists him at 5’10″ and 175 lbs. He notched 48 points in 60 games last year, adding 7 points in 6 playoff games.

Word is that the younger Toews will be added to the Blackhawks’ roster for the rookie tournament in Oshawa.

Next on the list: Brent Seabrook’s younger brother Keith (yeah, hilarious isn’t it?) and two of Patrick Kane’s younger sisters. Man, would THAT be an interesting locker room…

If we get more dirt on this we’ll pass it along.

Necks In The Guillotine

Photo: Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

Why are you reading this?

No, seriously, why are you reading this blog? Or any blog for that matter? You can get all the Blackhawks news as it happens from the team site, or any one of a dozen credentialed reporters all over the web, Twitter and Facebook. Why read the ramblings of me, or Jeff, or any of the 100 or so Blackhawks bloggers out there?

This might seem like a strange question for a blogger to ask. But it’s an important question, with an important answer.

You read us because we can, and do, say anything. Not everyone does. Here’s why.

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Lies, Damned Lies, and Injury Prognoses

Photo: National Post

When the injury to Patrick Kane was announced, and surgery was conducted, everyone was all happy and relieved. “Good thing it won’t impact the season!”

I just kept my mouth shut. I knew that the official line was a load of bullshit, but I kept my mouth shut.

So then today…

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The Blue Line: Cut And Dried

Photos: Bridget Samuels; Getty Images

Despite the lingering question mark about a second line center, and the wisdom of putting a completely unproven goaltender as Corey Crawford’s backup, the one place where there is little left to discuss is on defense.

To start with, there is universal agreement that John Scott’s best position is, in fact, in the press box. Or Rockford. Or Europe. Or the UFC. Or as a Walmart greeter. Anywhere but in a Blackhawks uniform between buzzers.

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Insurance Policy: Blackhawks Invite Ray Emery to Camp

Photo: AP

Wednesday afternoon the word came out on the Twitterscape that the Chicago Blackhawks had reportedly invited veteran goaltender Ray Emery to a tryout with the team at training camp in the fall. There is no contract in place, this will be a tryout only, meaning if the Blackhawks decide to pass it doesn’t cost them anything.

Ray Emery will be approaching his 29th birthday as camp gets underway. He is 6’2″, 196 lbs, and catches left. Drafted 99th overall in 2001 by the Ottawa Senators, he has also spent time with Philadelphia and Anaheim. But his career is a story of stops and starts.

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Losing Faith: Stan Bowman Mistakes Resemble Blackhawks’ Dark History

I’ve read several pieces in the last 3 weeks singing the praises of Blackhawks General Manager Stan Bowman. Not necessarily with support for his latest moves, but spewing statements like, “There’s a reason he’s GM and you’re not,” and “He’s done a great job so far, we have no reason to doubt him.”

How quickly you forget. I, however, have not.

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Busy Friday: Two Signings, One Surgery, One Pla — Wait, WHAT?!?

Photo: Wikimedia Commons

So here we are, just trying to enjoy the opening of the Chicago Blackhawks Convention, when we get news of some contract activity from the Blackhawks front office. But one of the names wasn’t on the roster last year. Then, the feces hit the climate control as news was released of one of the Blackhawks’ superstars going under the knife.

First, the expected (and, in fact, announced by what turned out to be a completely reliable source on Twitter Thursday night) signing of winger Michael Frolik to a 3-year, $7 million contract was made public by the Blackhawks brass. But along with that news came word that, despite GM Stan Bowman’s proclamations to the contrary, the team had been wading into the free agent waters once more.

The Blackhawks signed UFA defenseman Sami Lepisto to a one year contract worth a reported $750K. Lepisto is 6’1″, 195lbs, 27 years old, and shoots left. He was traded from the Coyotes to the Blue Jackets last season, playing in 70 games and tallying 4 goals and 12 assists with a +10 rating. Add to that 55 penalty minutes, 72 hits, 90 blocked shots. This was his second full season in the NHL, and his stats from the previous year were very similar. Lepisto became a free agent when Columbus refused to extend him a qualifying offer before the deadline.

Then in the midst of all the speculation about Chris Campoli packing his bags, the bomb dropped.

It was announced that Patrick Kane injured himself during his off-season training routine, and fractured his left scaphoid — a small bone near the long bones in his wrist.

Now is the time to come up with your best beer drinking/masturbating/punching a cabbie joke.

Done? Okay.

He will require surgery to repair the fracture, which will take place this coming Tuesday. The team physician indicates that Kane’s recovery will be complete by the time training camp starts, and he will miss no time during the pre-season or regular season.

Sorry, but this pisses me off. I’m going to withhold comment until Kane shows up training camp — or not. If he’s there, and all is well, fine. If not, put on your flak jackets.

Then, as if the waters weren’t rough enough, Bowman waltzed out in front of 100 microphones and declared that negotiations with Campoli were over, and the defenseman would be traded. A bottom-two defenseman asking for a $1 million raise and scheduled for arbitration? Yeah, good luck trading that, Stan. Especially after you tossed any leverage you have with other teams out the window by announcing that you had stopped negotiating with his agent. Smooth. You maybe should have consulted dad on this one, Sparky.

Well, holy char-broiled shit burgers. What will the team announce tomorrow? Please… Let it be nothing…

Whither Dave Bolland?

The free-agent falderall appears to be over from the Blackhawks’ point of view, which has a lot of fans puzzled, and more than a few of them pissed off. The only clear and concise declaration from GM Stan Bowman after the end of the season was that the ‘Hawks were going to acquire a big, tough center to play on the second line between Patrick Sharp and Marian Hossa.

They did not. And by all the evidence available to the casual observer, they didn’t even try.

Failing to do so doesn’t just put the second line into question, it throws the entire top-nine forwards’ alignment into pure chaos. And so the speculation begins: what the hell are they thinking, and what will the top three lines look like when the season starts?

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Prospect Camp Wrap-Up: Wait Until Next Year

Every year the draft occurs, people get jacked up about the new crop of hungry young pups, and talk turns to which of these sled dogs will be mushing with the team straight out of camp.

Settle down, people. This year’s draft picks still aren’t weaned yet…

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Blackhawks Sign Stalberg: Are we happy about this?

Photo: Mark Piscotty/Getty Images

On Sunday the Blackhawks announced that they had signed restricted free-agent winger Viktor Stalberg to a two-year contract worth a total of $1.75 million. Terms of the deal are believed to be $875K/year, though that has not been officially confirmed as yet.

Stalberg was one of three restricted free-agents still to be signed, and one of two that had filed for arbitration. The contract terms represent a raise of just $25K per year for Stalberg, likely a token amount so his agent could say that he got him something. The arbitration results were unlikely to get him much more.

So, okay, nice deal for the Blackhawks. Under $1 million was likely what they were shooting for, and they got that for two years instead of just one — which the arbitration award would have been had it gone to that stage. But Stalberg is another winger, one of 9 now under contract, and that assumes Patrick Sharp plays center and we don’t re-sign Michael Frolik. We’re overcrowded at this position: where does Viktor Stalberg fit in?

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Prospect Camp Preview: Who’s The Next Star?

The Chicago Blackhawks are holding their annual Prospect Camp starting today and running through Monday at Johnny’s Ice House West from 10am – 1:30pm (roughly). Sessions are open to the public, and I do suggest getting there somewhat early — seats are very limited, and they fill up quickly!

For those of you who are going to see any of the on-ice sessions this weekend, we thought we would put up a who-to-watch-out-for post here to give you at least some idea of who is likely to stand out.

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Free-Agent Signings: Now What?

All right, here we are.

Stan Bowman made his free-agent moves early. His choices most likely knew exactly where they wanted to go and exactly what the Blackhawks would be offering (not that I’m suggesting Stan, or ANY of the NHL GM’s were tampering at all, noooooo…). Then Stan took the long weekend off. With the exception of Steven Stamkos, the big fish have all been caught and eaten.

The “Free-Agent Frenzy” is over. Now, the actual work begins.

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Numbers Game: Newest Blackhawks’ Uniform Numbers

Here’s a quick update for those of you who missed the announcement by the Blackhawks late Tuesday. The newest members of the Blackhawks have chosen their jersey numbers for the 2011-12 season.

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They Signed WHO? What The… Why Did… JESUS!

Photo: Jeff Gross/Getty Images

I know that was my reaction, and based on his reputation and the proliferation of fight videos on YouTube, I expect a lot of you said pretty much the same thing.

Daniel Carcillo is now a Chicago Blackhawk. That’s going to take some getting used to.

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Woulda, Coulda, Shoulda: Blackhawks Free-Agent Targets

Photo: Aerys Sports

Okay, this is it! Free agency starts at 11am Chicago time. Speculation is rampant as to who the Blackhawks will go after, so we thought we’d add to the prognosticating with a quick summary of who, why (or why not), and what the chances are.

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Tampering Week: Shea Weber

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? Today we say, “Dream with me, people!” and look at Nashville Predators defenseman Shea Weber.

Photo: Bridget Samuels/WikiMedia

CONTRACT STATUS: Restricted Free Agent; $4.5 million cap hit in 2010-11

2010-11 STATS: 82 GP; 16 G; 32 A; 56 PIM; plus-7; 3 GWG, 211 hits

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Tampering Week: Marcel Goc

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 Nashville Predators center Marcel Goc.

Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

CONTRACT STATUS: Unrestricted free agent, $775,000 salary in 2010-11  

 

2010-11 STATS: 51 GP; 9 G; 15 A; 6 PIM; plus-10; 2 GWG

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Tampering Week: Brandon Sutter

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 wish list today is Carolina Hurricanes center Brandon Sutter.

Photo: Gregg Forwerck/Getty Images

CONTRACT STATUS: Restricted free agent; $1.225M cap hit in 2010-11

2010-11 STATS: 82 GP; 14 G; 15 A; plus-13; 1 PP goal

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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: Semyon Varlamov

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 Washington Capitals’ goaltender Semyon Varlamov.

Photo: AP

CONTRACT STATUS: Restricted Free Agent; $821,667 cap hit in 2010-11 ($765,000 salary)

2010-11 STATS: 27 GP; 11-9-5; 2.23 GAA; 0.924 SVG; 2 SO

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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: Eric Belanger

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 Phoenix Coyotes center Eric Belanger.

Photo: Christian Petersen/Getty Images

CONTRACT STATUS: Unrestricted Free Agent; $750,000 cap hit in 2010-11

2010-11 STATS: 82 GP; 13 G; 27 A; 36 PIM; plus-11; 2 GWG, 71 hits

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