Down To The Wire: Questions Remain at Blackhawks Camp

Photo: AP

Four pre-season games down, three to go. Camp started with 60 players, and after Monday’s cuts we are now at 31. Seven goalies started camp, three remain. One of Chicago’s first-round thoroughbreds was surreptitiously yanked from a game roster and sent packing. And an 18-year-old second-round draft pick is making a serious case for getting signed and added to the roster on October 7th.

What started out as a dull camp with very few questions to be answered has turned out to be quite an exciting and eventful time indeed.

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Little Bit South of Saskatoon: Oilers Beat Blackhawks 4 – 2

Photo: Reuters

Fear not, faithful readers of Jeff Bartl’s “Boxing” feature here on Cheer The Anthem; Jeff will crank things up when the regular season gets underway. Until then, we’ll tell you what we can from the games we can see, and last night was one of those times.

The Blackhawks took a 21-man roster with only 8 proven veterans aboard to the mighty plains of Saskatchewan to take on the Edmonton Oilers in a game shown streaming live from the Blackhawks web site. Despite allegedly being restricted to the Chicago hockey market, reports were coming in from as far away as Pittsburgh and Minnesota that fans were able to see the game. Damned computers…

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Training Camp Festival: First-Look Scouting Report

Photo: ChicagoNow

Two things before we get to the meat of the matter. First is, my only concern for this article is the guys that the Blackhawks acquired in the off-season and (barring injury) are likely going to be on the opening night roster. You know about the returning veterans, and the kids out there aren’t worth your time or mine.

Second, this is an artificial environment. What you could see at the Blackhawks Training Camp Festival is merely an example of what the guys did that day. They are just getting their feet under them, they are skating at 80%, and they aren’t in shape yet. So this is just an initial impression.

Those two things out of the way, here we go! Added bonus is the player’s nickname, where known.

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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.

*     *     *     *     *

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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Ruin & Destroy Camp, Part II

Photo: The Globe And Mail

Earlier this week we reviewed the non-active-play changes tested out at Brendan Shanahan’s GM circle jerk known as “R&D Camp.” Today we look at the proposed changes that will affect play on the ice. Buckle up, people; the stupidity has been flowing fast and furious among the league’s brain trust.

No line changes allowed for offending teams when called for off-sides: One of the most unique things about the game of hockey is the ability for teams to change players on the ice at nearly any time. The imbecile who came up with this rule for icing should have had his eyeballs ripped out with needle-nose pliers, and the same fate should befall the twit who came up with this too. But you know the league: they’ll implement this rule.

Face-off moves to offending team’s zone when called for off-sides: I don’t think this goes far enough, actually. I think that for off-sides calls the face off should be moved inside the crease. In fact, how about one inch in front of the offending team’s goal line. Maybe a half-inch. Oh wait, I’ve got it: off-sides calls result in a penalty shot. They want to increase offense? That will increase offense! They never listen to me, however: but for now, you can expect to see this rule despite it’s obvious shortcomings.

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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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Ruin & Destroy Camp, Part I

Photo: NBC Sports

I was sitting on the dock in Muskoka on Wednesday, sucking on a Labatt’s and watching the kids splash around the lake, when it dawned on me: “Hold it! I’m in Canada! I can watch TSN!!!”

I’d been there four days already. Apparently when I cross the border I lose many important brain cells, even before I start drinking.

One of the things I like most about my parents’ place up north is the 365-days-a-year hockey coverage in the national media. TSN’s SportsCentre (love the spelling) program led with the NHL’s R&D Camp coverage, including a brief round table with three NHL GM’s, to discuss the proposed rules changes that were tested at the camp thus far. I have a feeling that if I had been able to watch the ESPN SportsCenter broadcast that night, they would have led with coverage of whether Chad Ochocinco had shaved his balls that morning, followed by whichever NASCAR driver had a hissy fit at qualifying, and spent exactly zero time on R&D camp.

Man, do I miss my homeland. They have their priorities in order.

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1 Bad Contract, 2 Bad Contract, 3 Bad Contract, Floor

Credit: Detroit Sports Nation

During my last appearance on the HOCKEENIGHT Puckcast, we briefly discussed the impending end of the NHL’s current Collective Bargaining Agreement following the coming season with the focus shifting mainly to the mandatory salary cap floor.

Forklift pointed out the relatively small gap between the cap ceiling ($64.3 million) and the minimum number ($48.3 million). For you math whizzes out there, that’s a $16 million difference – or the estimated amount of two high-priced studs or 3-4 second-tier players.

In the grand scheme of things, the amount separating the floor and the ceiling isn’t all that much, and I agree with Fork that forcing small-market teams to shell out dough relatively similar to those playing in high-revenue cities may, MAY (I’m emphasizing there with the all caps and the italics) do damage to those franchises.

With the ceiling and floor both rising, it has forced certain teams to take on some bad deals and overpay to simply hit the floor. For one, Dale Tallon brought to Florida Brian Campbell’s contract ($7.14 M) and signed Tomas Kopecky ($3 M), Ed Jovanovski ($4.1 M) and Tomas Fleischmann ($4.5 M) to deals which all made our acid reflux reach disheartening levels.

And yet with all that, the Panthers are barely standing on the floor. To Tallon’s defense, it was a spending spree forced upon him by the NHL’s CBA which required him to shell out these head-scratching deals.

But is that such a bad thing?

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