Don’t be alarmed when you turn on the NBC Sports Network tonight at 6 p.m. CST and find Brian Schactman hosting CNBC Sports Biz: Game On!That’s your regularly scheduled programming, thanks to this pissing contest between the NHL and NHLPA.
Rinks in Montreal, Philadelphia, Calgary and Colorado will be empty tonight rather than hosting Opening Night, which is now simply referred to as Lockout: Day 25. The two sides met Wednesday for five hours, and they’re apparently meeting again today. An end to the lockout, though, seems to be nowhere in sight.
From Steve Fehr, special counsel to his brother, Donald:
“I think we’re making progress in a number of the areas that were discussed, which include health and safety, drug testing issues, medical care. They were good discussions. It’s a shame that they are going on in the midst of a lockout when we could be doing it while we’re playing, or we could’ve been doing it a month ago or two months ago.”
Yes, thank you for reminding us how neither side apparently consisting of whining 6-year-olds couldn’t sit down and talk like adults much earlier.
From Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly:
“We had no discussion of the major economic issues or system issues, so that continues to be a disappointment from our perspective.”
This coming from someone representing the owners, who could continue getting their precious revenue by hosting games while negotiating. But no, let’s just shut the whole damn league down. That’ll help you make money, seeing as you’ve already bitched about losing $100 million just from wiping out the preseason.
Two weeks worth of canceled regular-season games begins accumulating tonight, eventually amounting to 82 by Oct. 24. Three previously booked nights at the United Center will now feature an empty arena and five total Blackhawks games will be sucked into the lockout’s black hole.
Tonight is the night the lockout becomes real, and not just some disagreement we thought would’ve been worked out months before it could affect us.
We’re mere days away from more games being wiped off the schedule, and my optimism for a resolution has all but disappeared.
I was able to get in touch with former ESPN analyst and Blackhawk Matthew Barnaby, who signed with the ‘Hawks during the dark days prior to the 2004-05 lockout. During his one season with the ‘Hawks he played with youngsters Patrick Sharp, Brent Seabrook and Duncan Keith.
Barnaby addresses his opinions on the current lockout, a possible reason why not everyone has signed to play overseas during the work stoppage and his time spent playing with some current ‘Hawks.
Bartl: You saw three work stoppages during your playing days – a short strike in 1992, the three-month lockout in 1994-95 and The Wipe Out of 2004-05. Viewing this one from the outside, what is it going to take for the NHL and NHLPA to come to an agreement for there to be hockey this season? How long is this going to last, in your opinion?
Barnaby: I was drafted in 1992, so i didn’t pay much attention to it because it didn’t affect me. I was going back to junior. As for 94-95, I got sent to the minors and I can say it was probably a good experience for me to play in the minors, but was certainly happy when it ended to really start my NHL career. I went down to Rochester (AHL affiliate of Buffalo) with a great attitude, played hard. I really didn’t understand much of the economics at that time. In 2004 I know Bob Goodenow didn’t have the pulse of the union. That deal could have been done a lot earlier. It’s too bad because everyone suffered. The differences now really are how much is each side going to get of the $3.3 billion pie. It will take concessions on both sides to get a deal done. I really think this should be the easiest one to do. I say we see hockey in November.
Bartl: What makes this lockout different/similar to the previous stoppages?
Barnaby: The difference of this lockout compared to 2004 is they are fighting over the money. Last one they were battling over different philosophies and a different system. Cap or no cap? That’s a huge philosophical difference. Now it’s about how much of that pie each deserves.
Bartl: There’s been some discussion regarding the public-relations battle being waged between the sides. Does either side have the upper hand at this point, or aren’t there any true winners here?
Barnaby: Both sides try and play to the public to try and get support and force the other side into doing a deal. Negotiations are about leverage. The owners hold the most leverage as they have more money and time. The players have a small window of opportunity to make their money and will never get this money back. Owners know it and also know that negotiations don’t start until checks are lost. In the end there are no winners but I do feel the public is more on the players’ side as opposed to the owners’ in 2004.
Bartl: In the end, which side ends up conceding the most?
Barnaby: The players. They are not going to roll over like we did in ’04. This will be different because they have trust in Fehr and also know what they gave up in ’04. Anything with a salary rollback I don’t think gets a deal done. I think if the revenue sharing is closer to 50-50 then a deal is done. Players are the ones giving back, it’s just how much.
Bartl: What factors do players consider during a lockout in determining whether they play abroad, train back home, etc.?
Barnaby: I had my bags packed in ’04 and ready to go to Sweden. My son Matthew grabbed it as I left for the airport and begged me not to go. That was the end of it. I stayed and waited it out. Trained 5 days a week at the start, then 4, then 3. Then stopped skating once the season was cancelled. If I had to do it over I would have went to Europe because I really felt it hurt my career. I think every player that has the opportunity should take advantage. You aren’t going against your union, but trying to stay in shape and keep that competitive edge.
Bartl: You were with the Blackhawks in 2005-06 following the last lockout and played with a young Brent Seabrook, Duncan Keith and Patrick Sharp. Did you see the potential in those guys? Were you surprised the ‘Hawks made such a quick turnaround from 2006 to making the Western Conference finals in 2009, then winning the Stanley Cup the following year?
Barnaby: No, i wasn’t (surprised). I remember telling Dale Tallon when we got Sharpie, ‘Wow how did you steal this guy?’ Highway robbery for Matt Ellison i believe (no offense Matt) .Dunc and Seabs I knew were going to be stars. I knew we had the foundation for a great team and knew Toews was coming into the fold. I was really upset when I got bought out because I knew the future was very bright once a few changes were made and they were. Great kids, great city, great fans and a deserved Stanley Cup.
The NHL owners made good on their threat to wait out the Players Association today, canceling the first 82 games of its season. The first of the games called was scheduled next week with 4 games on October 11th. You all know the story by now, of course. The NHLPA and the NHL cannot figure out how best to split a staggering 3 billion dollar pot. Both sides, of course, claim to be looking out for the best interests of the fans. The players are probably closer to the right in this instance, but it wasn’t all that long ago that their belligerence cost us a season. Both sides have now shown a willingness and ability to be stubborn and petty. The players seven years ago, management today. I’m pretty apathetic at this point.
The Blackhawks will miss a lame opening night with Columbus, but will also miss their first trip to Winnipeg, which could explain why Jonathan Toews sounded so pissed off today. Games with Detroit, St. Louis and a potentially exciting Colorado team are gone too. Nobody has any idea what a season will look like due to the massive uncertainty. so who knows if these games will ever be made up. Probably not. Who knows.
Thank the Risen Lord for Thursday Night Football every week this year.
Blackhawks Prospect Camp 2012 gets underway today, offering fans who are willing to stand in a pretty cold ice rink for a few hours the chance to see the next generation of Chicago Blackhawks. The boys have arrived and have completed their physicals and fitness testing, and they’ll be taking to the ice during the lunch hour today at Johnny’s Ice House West, 2550 West Madison Street, in Chicago.
The full Prospect Camp roster is available here, with the on-ice schedule for all five days here. Prospect Camp is free, and open to the public. If you’re serious about going, go at least a half-hour before the guys take the ice. There is VERY limited seating, and it goes fast.
In all, 52 players will be on the ice during camp, usually divided into 2 groups either for practice or scrimmage. There is a Team A and a Team B, one would expect each to contain 22 skaters and 4 goaltenders. There will be practices Monday through Thursday, and scrimmage days are Wednesday, Thursday and Friday.
With so many players — more than a third of whom are not even the property of the Blackhawks — how do you know who is worth watching? I’ve narrowed the field for you below: you’ll get the most “bang for your buck” by paying attention to the following 12 players.
I’ll give it to you straight: the Blackhawks did a whole lot of NUFFIN’ on Tuesday, and with Wednesday being 4th of July, expect a complete black hole of free-agent signings until Thursday at the earliest.
Blackhawks’ rumored free agent target Zach Parise was interviewed by the Minneapolis Star-Tribune’s Michael Russo while getting off a plane at the airport in the Twin Cities, and Parise indicated that he and his fiancee were going to hammer out a decision face to face. No timetable was given for making that decision, and then he vanished.
The other major free agent that the Blackhawks don’t appear to be involved with, Ryan Suter, announced that he would not be making a decision today.
The Chicago Blackhawks’ activity level on Day 2 of free agency was even more depressing than it was on Day 1, if you can believe that. Not one signing was announced, one possible target signed elsewhere, and another perpetrated the troll of the summer on the hockey media and those following along via the Twitterscape.
And unfortunately, none of the big names did anything either, further clogging the pipes in the already stopped up basement toilet that is the 2012 free agent signing period.
The first day of NHL free agency is like Christmas for fans of any team. Last year, Blackhawks GM Stan Bowman was very active right out of the gate, gift wrapping several key role players within the first 3 hours. That flurry of activity gave Blackhawks fans hope for a pony under the tree on July 1st, 2012; but instead fans will have to settle for a hamster.
There were teams holding multiple first-round picks, teams looking to move disgruntled stars, teams looking to shed salary, and teams looking to improve their draft position. The 2012 NHL Entry Draft had all the makings of a first-round free-for-all — and for once, it did not disappoint!
Even before the first 10 picks were in the books, there were players and picks flying all over the room. Jordan Staal sent to Carolina for Brandon Sutter and the Hurricanes’ 1st round pick; Lubomir Visnovsky traded from the Ducks to the Islanders; Mike Ribiero went from Dallas to Washington.
And Blackhawks General Manager Stan Bowman was smack dab in the middle of all the action…
One concussion, one car accident, one too many moguls, one too many beers, one of any number of things can deep-six your carefully-chosen and highly-coveted first round selection in the NHL draft. In some ways, the pick has more value before it turns into a living, breathing human being: because once it is, you’re stuck with it — and whatever happens to it.
So in some ways, your first round pick is kind of like shooting skeet while blindfolded. You do your best and prepare carefully, but in the end your success rate depends just as much on luck and fate as it does on anything else.
When presented in that light, maybe we’re taking this draft business a little too seriously. But let’s face it: most of us aren’t interested in seeing who the Blackhawks pick with their #18 selection; we’re hoping that some deal gets done during the draft that changes the ‘Hawks roster, or draft position, or both. So let’s explore some possibilities.
Breaking down Patrick Kane’s season by looking at his end-of-year totals is impossible. All you see is the fact that his goals, assists, and points were all down against the last 2 years. The story of the boy’s season is much more intricate, and it all started last summer when a certain Blackhawks executive who shall remain nameless (but whose name rhymes with “Dan Showman”) decided to cover up his inability to obtain a second-line center, and in the process throw a wrench into Kane’s season.
In short, Kane was put in a position to fail, and I don’t hold him responsible for his statistical slump. It’s most demonstrably the fault of the guy who has never played a single minute of time in the NHL.
When the season ended, the five of us here at Cheer The Anthem held a “draft” of sorts, to determine who did which player’s evaluation. A couple of rounds went by and I saw that nobody had picked Patrick Kane yet. So I said, “Okay, sure, why not.”
That was late April.
Now, regretting that decision, I decided to separate this evaluation into two parts — to dispense with the off-ice shenanigans and trade discussion up front, then on Monday we’ll talk about how Kane plays hockey.
* * * * *
We’ve all seen the pictures and read the articles about Patrick Kane’s Cinco de Mayo visit to Madison, Wisconsin, so I’m not going to re-live the experience with you now. But from this we know three things: first, the kid is a binge drinker, if not an actual alcoholic; second, that this behavior has established itself as a pattern over the last 3 summers; and third, that he is to the point where he needs help. Arguing with these points is merely denying reality and making excuses for a kid who doesn’t need people to make excuses for him anymore.
Part two of the dynamic duo called up in 2012 is Jimmy Hayes. I had really high hopes for this kid this season, but his presence was merely a teaser of his future potential on the Blackhawks, as well as a potentially promising indication of what’s to come.
I have a soft-spot in my heart for the big guy. For one thing, he’s American. Secondly, he is 22 years old. Lastly, and most importantly, Jimmy’s frame is built to bruise. Standing 6’6″ tall and weighing in at over 220 lbs, Jimmy has the body to hit and hit hard.
Jimmy started the season strong, scoring 2 points in his first three professional games. He netted 2 points in three different games for the Hawks. Not bad for a kid playing just above 10:00 per game on the season. Hayes started the season as a top line forward and netted 7 points in his first 10 NHL games.
Unfortunately, Hayes was a part of the player carousel that the Blackhawks had going this season, and it prevented him from developing any sort of offensive consistency, dropping in the depth chart towards the end of the season.
The 2012 NHL trade deadline was awash in armchair quarterbacking, as is usually the case; but this year, nobody could agree on what the Blackhawks needed to add to the mix. There were advocates for replacing nearly every position on the ice, including misinformed Moneyball disciples treating players like futures contracts and suggesting that “Jonathan Toews‘ trade value has never been higher!”
Please, go launch a hostile takeover or something. Come at me with that nonsense, I’ll implant your graphing calculator in your pancreas — the fun way.
As it turns out, Blackhawks GM Stan Bowman showed his impotence, failing to acquire the 2nd-line center that fans and media pundits had been unanimously clamoring for since 2010. He also added another “Who?” on the blue line, and unpleasant memories of The Chris Campoli Incident flashed before our eyes. Thank goodness Johnny Oduya turned out to be a far better bet, though his first 20 minutes in a Blackhawks uniform didn’t help to ease our fears one bit…
We should have seen this coming. Specifically, we should have taken Florida Panthers’ fans seriously when they echoed our, “Ha-ha, you got Skille!” chants with, “Ha-ha, you got Frolik!” Apparently the scouts on both teams had mad cow disease when doing the assessments on these guys. Like just watching them play wasn’t enough to make them walk away for good.
But at least Florida regained its common sense in the off-season. Whereas Jack Skille got re-signed at $825K, our intrepid StanBow somehow thought Michael Frolik was worth nearly double his salary from the previous two years, and on a 3-year contract to boot. Once the ink dried on that deal, it was very obvious who got the better of this trade.
And then the 2011-12 season started…
When the Blackhawks signed veteran winger Jamal Mayers in the off-season, I thought it was the best acquisition they made. 12-year veteran, decent size, decent speed, enough grit and gristle to be useful. Sure, past his prime. But for the price we signed him at, he might chip in for 10 goals and 15 assists and provide some veteran leadership on the 3rd or 4th lines.
Those totals didn’t materialize (6G + 9A, and zippo in the playoffs), but we got a healthy dose of what Mayers was made of in the first 15 games of the season. Before the campaign was a month old he had 2 goals, including a game-winner, plus 2 helpers; and was getting an average of one shot on goal each night. He also took it upon himself to beat the crap out of no fewer than 5 guys. He was the only Blackhawk who registered a fighting major until Daniel “CarBomb” Carcillo went nuts during the Vancouver game on November 6th. Mayers was doing all of this while logging an average of only 10 minutes of ice time a night.
So now the season is over, and Mayers is a free agent. He was, arguably, the best investment Blackhawks GM Stan Bowman made — dollar for dollar — in the 2011 off-season. Hard not to pass on that kind of success again…
Chicago never had the lead in their game against Minnesota last Sunday, which isn’t how the Blackhawks play their best game. However they did fight back to erase 3 deficits and force the Wild to a shootout. A shootout which the Blackhawks lost, eventually. But beyond showcasing the pugilistic talents of the bottom-six forwards, this game showed that this Blackhawks team may have a lot more perseverance and “guts” than we saw earlier this season.
The playoffs are right around the corner. The Blackhawks had better get a heaping helping of guts on the menu, and start making quick work of trifling teams like Minnesota, pretty quick. Like, perhaps, tonight.
First thing’s first: with their 5-4 win over Nashville last night, the Chicago Blackhawks have clinched a spot in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. It’s the first time since 1995 that the club has managed this feat for 4 consecutive years.
And there was much rejoicing.
The story of how they got that win, however… Well, I’m going to quote Pat Foley (always a dangerous move, I realize) and say that, “It doesn’t have to be an oil painting.”
Every time the Blackhawks go up against Boris Badenov and the Nashville Predators I find myself sitting there wondering, Why the HELL does Chicago have such problems with this team? Other teams kick the crap out of them regularly, as evidenced by Nashville’s losses to Pittsburgh and cellar-dweller Edmonton just last week. Why, oh WHY, do the Blackhawks usually end up either on the short end of a close game, or being humiliated by a staggering margin against these pukes?
In the 5 games between these teams this season, the Blackhawks have come away with a only one win — and that one went into overtime. Chicago has better records this year against St. Louis, Vancouver, and Detroit (*spitting noise*). They’re laughing at us in Music City, counting the ‘Hawks as an easy win, and hoping that they manage to land Chicago as a first-round playoff opponent instead of the Red Wings.
Nashville fans are laughing at us. That has to fucking stop. Tonight. And that means the Blackhawks had better deliver a crushing blow to this Predators team, and make it clear that taking Chicago lightly will be a costly mistake.
How did the Blackhawks beat the St. Louis Blues two weeks ago? By pounding them into submission? By Jamal Mayers making dents in B.J. Crombeen’s melon? By Brandon Bollig trying to tenderize Ryan Reeves? So many will say ‘yes’, and assert that a physical game will be imperative to beating St. Louis tonight. I’m going to disagree.
Chicago beat the Blues by first of all, recovering from a 3-goals-against meltdown by Ray Emery in the first period; and secondly, by throwing 46 shots at the Blues’ goal while limiting their shots against to just 24.
Tonight will be no different. If the Blackhawks use their speed, press their forecheck, take advantage of a demonstrably slower St. Louis defense, and not waste time and energy throwing the body, they will win. How do I know? One week prior to that game, the Blackhawks managed only 20 shots on goal against St. Louis while allowing 31 shots against. Chicago lost 5-1. And Bollig and Reaves went at it in that game too, precious little good it did.
Having just done a brief tour of some of the less scenic parts of New Jersey, I can tell those of you who haven’t been there to skip it. New Jersey is to New York City what Gary, Indiana is to Chicago — except with half the smell and twice the abandoned buildings. Got the picture?
Hey, the truth hurts. And with the Blackhawks’ ranks depleting faster than they can call up reinforcements from Rockford, the truth is more painful than usual these days. But we’ll go there later.
Right now, the matter at hand is a New Jersey Devils team that, fortunately, won’t land in the basement of the Atlantic Division thanks to an Islanders team with a nice lottery position. But a team that is nonetheless in big trouble as its latest bout of losses presents the real possibility of missing the playoffs. Surging teams in the form of Buffalo and Washington may just use the last 6 games of the season to kick New Jersey straight to the golf course.
Will offensive titans Ilya Kovalchuk, Patrik Elias, and Zach Parise be able to light the lamp enough to make up for Martin Brodeur’s fading talents between the pipes? Hopefully not tonight…
So, this game is getting the recap it deserves. This was the sort of game where the Blackhawks give up 6 goals to a team that shuns offense. It was almost like Corey Crawford and Ray Emery decided to have a contest seeing who could suck the worst. Somehow, Brendan Morrison found a way to top them both.
This was a game the ‘Hawks just have to forget about and move on from. They have played very good hockey the last two weeks and its not like this game broke their backs, although pulling even with the Predators would have been awful sweet.
The ‘Hawks had a chance midway through the 1st period where Johnny Oduya was stoned cold by Pekka Rinne and they didn’t do a damn thing the rest of the evening. The Predators had goals from Matt Halischuck, The Other Kostitsyn, Patric Hornqvist, Francis Bouillon, Shea Weber and Mike Fisher. Crawford was pulled after the 4th Predator goal. Pekka Rinne was spectacular – per usual.
As I’m sure you all know by now, Duncan Keith has been suspended for 5 games by the NHL (Brendan Shanahan) for his blatant elbow on Vancouver Canucks forward and all around creep Daniel Sedin.
Keith made the argument to Shanahan that he was trying to impede Sedin from making progress in the neutral zone. No sale. This was always going to be a tough sell for Keith even had Thing 1 not been injured.The replay clearly shows Keith getting his elbow up and if you believe the Thing 2 (Henrik), Keith made clear his intention to even the score after a highly questionable (and probably suspendable) hit he took from Thing 1. In the future, Keith would do well to keep his mouth shut about such actions. He made up his mind to take a shot at Sedin and there was no reason he had to advertise it to the world – they would have found out eventually, right?
The last 3 years the Blackhawks have faced the Canucks in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Why should this year be any different? The way it’s shaping up right now, it’s a decent possibility that Vancouver will be the Blackhawks’ first-round opponent. Tonight’s game will give us a preview of what we can expect.
Tonight will also be a test of the Blackhawks’ mettle: can they continue their first period dominance? Can they beat teams that are ahead of them in the standings the way they have beaten teams below them? And can they continue their recent solid play in the absence of Captain Jonathan Toews?
Buckle up, people. This game’s going to be close: either be a hard-fought win, or a very disappointing loss. No blowout in sight this evening.
This is really quite simple. The Columbus Blue Jackets, albeit lately playing well, are the worst professional hockey team among the 30 that make up the National Hockey League. They score the 2nd fewest goals in the NHL, give up the 2nd most goals in the NHL, have the 26th ranked powerplay, the worst penalty kill, generally don’t score first and might have the single worst general manager since Mike Milbury turned the Islanders into the Pirates of this league. In short, the Columbus Blue Jackets are absolutely terrible and probably should be competing for the Calder Cup instead of the Stanley Cup.
We got that covered? Great.