<![CDATA[NBC Chicago - Sports]]> Copyright 2015 http://www.nbcchicago.com/news/sports http://media.nbcbayarea.com/designimages/5-Chicago-Blue.png NBC Chicago http://www.nbcchicago.com en-us Tue, 06 Oct 2015 09:52:35 -0500 Tue, 06 Oct 2015 09:52:35 -0500 NBC Owned Television Stations <![CDATA[Clark the Cub to Hand Out Free Gear Around Chicago Today]]> Tue, 06 Oct 2015 08:51:58 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/Clark+The+Cub.png

While the Chicago Cubs players are on their way to Pittsburgh to take on the Pirates in a history-making wild card game Wednesday, the team’s mascot will be making his way around the city.

Clark the Cub will be surprising Cubs fans around the city Tuesday to hand out free swag, W flags, and Chicago gear. He can be expected to pop up anywhere starting at 8 a.m. until 5:30 p.m., according to RedEye Chicago.

To find Clark, look for the clues from the Cubs’ Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and Vine accounts to follow where he’s been spotted and where he’s off to.

When you spot him, make sure to use the hashtag #FlyTheW. 

Your support has been amazing so far, #Cubs fans. Keep it going and help us #FlyTheW this Wednesday!

Posted by Chicago Cubs on Monday, October 5, 2015

Photo Credit: Twitter/ClarkTheCub]]>
<![CDATA[Fantasy Sports Companies Dispute Allegations of Unfair Betting]]> Mon, 05 Oct 2015 21:38:21 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/FanDuel.jpg

Two companies in the booming, unregulated world of online fantasy sports issued statements Monday after recent allegations that employees may have access to insider data that could allow unfair, highly profitable bets. 

In the statement posted on FanDuel's website, the company said that despite "recent attention on industry employees," FanDuel — as well as a second sports site, DraftKings — valued "the integrity of the games we offer to our customers."

"Both companies have strong policies in place to ensure that employees do not misuse any information at their disposal and strictly limit access to company data to only those employees who require it to do their jobs," the statement said.

Photo Credit: File--AP]]>
<![CDATA[Cubs Fever in Full Swing in Chicago]]> Mon, 05 Oct 2015 18:36:00 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/WMAQ_000000014550437_1200x675_539044931839.jpg Chicago has Cubs fever as the team prepares to take on the Pirates in the National League Wild Card Game. Katie Kim reports.]]> <![CDATA[Joe Maddon Gets Bobblehead, Blue Hoodie And All]]> Mon, 05 Oct 2015 17:50:43 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/maddon+bobblehead.JPG

Chicago Cubs manager Joe Maddon is known for turning heads with some of his behind-the-scenes decisions (see: the petting zoo he made at Wrigley Field), but his success now has his head bouncing in a new bobblehead.

The National Bobblehead Hall of Fame and Museum revealed Monday that it has produced a Joe Maddon bobblehead.

The item will be the first bobblehead to feature Maddon in his signature blue hoodie, "which he will hopefully be wearing well into October for many years to come," said Co-Founder and CEO of the museum Phil Sklar.

The completed bobbleheads are expected to be ready by early November.

Fans can currently order the bobblehead via presale.

Photo Credit: National Bobblehead Hall of Fame and Museum]]>
<![CDATA[Cubs Fever Sweeps Chicago]]> Mon, 05 Oct 2015 17:11:07 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/WMAQ_000000014549245_1200x675_538981955958.jpg It's been a while since it struck, but Cubs fever is sweeping across Chicago. Wednesday's wild card game finally gives fans a chance to cheer in the post-season. NBC 5's Katie Kim reports.]]> <![CDATA[JayCav's Son Picked Up Bad Habits From Parents]]> Tue, 06 Oct 2015 06:08:33 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/180*120/GettyImages-491328776.jpg

Jay Cutler’s oldest son has apparently picked up some bad habits from his parents: Tackling and swearing.

Cutler’s wife and former reality TV star Kristin Cavallari revealed in a recent interview with People magazine that the couple’s 3-year-old son Camden is very into his father’s football playing and repeatedly tackles his younger brother Jaxon.

While his interest in his father's work is "really cute," Cavallari said Camden tackling his 17-month-old brother is "not good."

As for his other habit (swearing), well, it doesn’t seem like that came from Cutler.

Cavallari said that Camden has said the “F-word,” asking his mother why she used the word.

The shoe designer and expectant mother said she swears a lot and having her son say it “makes you catch yourself and makes you be aware of what you’re saying all the time.”

The couple’s third child is due in November. They are expecting a girl, their first daughter, and she will reportedly be named after a dog, Cavallari said in a recent interview.

Cutler returned to the field Sunday following a hamstring injury, and his two touchdown passes helped lead the team to their first win of the season, a 22-20 victory over the Oakland Raiders.

<![CDATA[Teravainen Ascends to Top Line for Blackhawks ]]> Mon, 05 Oct 2015 14:00:29 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/teuvo+terravainen+86.jpg

As the Chicago Blackhawks re-convened for practice on Monday morning to prepare for Wednesday’s season opener against the New York Rangers, their lines had a bit of a different look to them.

That’s because Teuvo Teravainen, who had a coming-out party during the 2015 Stanley Cup Playoffs, has been elevated to the top line for the Blackhawks. He joins Marian Hossa as a winger for Jonathan Toews on the line after spending a chunk of the preseason as the third line center for the Blackhawks.

The second line remained the same, with Artem Anisimov centering Artemi Panarin and Patrick Kane, but the third line had a new look as well, with Andrew Shaw slotting in as a center between Bryan Bickell and Kyle Baun.

The fourth line featured Marcus Kruger in his usual spot, with Andrew Desjardins and Ryan Garbutt on the wings.

The decision to move Teravainen to the top line and Shaw back down to the third is an interesting one for Joel Quenneville, who traditionally likes to keep a good scoring balance through his first three lines. When asked about the change after practice, the coach insisted that it isn’t a switch for short-term benefit only.

“He’ll play there to start the season. Hopefully, (he’ll stay) all year,” Quenneville told Mark Lazerus of the Chicago Sun-Times. “He’s really matured from year to year, but probably made his biggest step this year. He feels he belongs.”

With players like Brandon Saad and Patrick Sharp off the team, the Blackhawks will need players to step up to fill the scoring gaps, and Teravainen is definitely a candidate to do that. He displayed excellent ice vision during the postseason for the Blackhawks, and even though his point totals have been far from gaudy, the team is optimistic that he will take a significant step forward this season.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[12 Wrigley Bars With Specials for Wednesday's Wild Card Game]]> Tue, 06 Oct 2015 08:56:48 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/180*120/GettyImages-88873401.jpg

Although the Chicago Cubs opted against holding a viewing party at Wrigley Field for the National League Wild Card Game Wednesday, the team’s fans are still expected to come out in full force to take in the game.

"Given the excitement we have seen from Cubs fans this season, we know our fans will find a great place to watch the game and cheer on our team," the Chicago Cubs said in a team statement.

And there’s no better place than the true home to the Cubs, as close as you can get to where it all began at iconic Wrigley Field. The game starts at 7 p.m. Wednesday when the team goes up against the Pittsburgh Pirates at PNC Park.

Here are 12 Wrigley bars that will have specials for the big day:

Cubby Bear
• $3 drafts

• $5 Montejo
• $5 Corona & Corona Light
• $5 Ketel One Vodka cocktails
• $5 grape & cherry bombs

Houndstooth Saloon
• $4 craft drafts
• $3 Jameson whiskey shots
• $5 off sandwiches

Merkle’s Bar & Grill
• Half price wine
• 50 cent wings

The Irish Oak
• $5 burger & fries
• $55 22-ounce beers

The Stretch
• $5 burgers
• $4 you-call-its
• $3 Miller Lite & Coors Lite bottles

Merkle’s Bar & Grill
• Half price wine
• $4 Malort or Fireball shots
• $4 bombs
• $4 beer of the month

Murphy’s Bleachers
• $3 brats
• $3 Budweiser drafts
• $4 Sailor Jerry rum cocktails

Houndstooth Saloon
• $5 off sandwiches
• $4 craft drafts
• $3 Jameson shots

Sheffield’s Beer & Wine Garden
• $5 Half Acre Beer Company drafts

Sport’s Corner
• $3 brats & hot dogs
• $3 you-call-its

Vine’s on Clark
• $5 individual pizzas
• $10 large pizzas
• $4 drafts
• $5 Bulleit cocktails

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Yankees' CC Sabathia Checking Into Alcohol Rehab ]]> Tue, 06 Oct 2015 03:52:53 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/sabathia+rehab+center.jpg

Yankees' CC Sabathia is checking into an alcohol rehabilitation center and will miss the postseason, the pitcher said Monday in a statement released by the team.

In the statement, the 35-year-old Sabathia said he was seeking "the professional care and assistance needed to treat my disease."

He said he wanted to thank the Yankees organization for "their encouragement and understanding."

Sabathia's move comes the day before the Yankees take on the Houston Astros in a critical one-and-done AL Wild Card game. It's the team's first postseason appearance since 2012.

“I love baseball and I love my teammates like brothers, and I am also fully aware that I am leaving at a time when we should all be coming together for one last push toward the World Series," the 2007 AL Young Award winner said. "It hurts me deeply to do this now, but I owe it to myself and to my family to get myself right. I want to take control of my disease, and I want to be a better man, father and player."

Sabathia said it was difficult to publicly share his decision, but he didn't want to "run and hide." He also asked for privacy for him and his family.

“Being an adult means being accountable. Being a baseball player means that others look up to you," Sabathia added. I want my kids -- and others who may have become fans of mine over the years -- to know that I am not too big of a man to ask for help. I want to hold my head up high, have a full heart and be the type of person again that I can be proud of. And that’s exactly what I am going to do."

Sabathia was 6-10 with a 4.73 ERA this year, slowed by his surgically repaired right knee. After returning from the disabled list and using a tighter brace, the portly left-hander was 2-1 with a 2.17 ERA in five starts and got the win against Boston that week that clinched the Yankees' return to the postseason following a rare two-year absence.

Sabathia, who helped New York win the 2009 World Series during his first season in the Bronx, is signed through next season. His deal includes a 2017 club option that would become guaranteed if his left shoulder doesn't get hurt.

"I am looking forward to being out on the field with my team next season playing the game that brings me so much happiness," Sabathia said. 

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[355 Diamonds Adorn Hawks' New Stanley Cup Rings]]> Mon, 05 Oct 2015 11:58:58 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/2015ChampionshipRing1.jpg

The Chicago Blackhawks still claim rights to the Stanley Cup, but on Sunday they received another gift to make the 2015 championship live on forever.

In a private ceremony in Chicago, players and staff received their 2015 Stanley Cup championship rings made by custom jewelry designer Jostens. The flashy rings boast 355 round, pear, marquise and custom princess-cut diamonds set in a 14-karat white gold ring.

The top of the ring shows the Blackhawks trademark logo made out of diamonds with the words "Stanley Cup Champions" surrounding it. The left side features all six Stanley Cup trophies the team has won, and the right side displays the team's secondary logo as well as each player's name and number. The team's motto — "One Goal" — is written inside the ring. The Hawks' 2015 postseason opponents and series scores are also included.

For fans who want a piece of the action, Jostens and the Blackhawks created a custom selection of personalized jewelry and collectibles that can be purchased at www.jostens.com/blackhawksfan. Fans may not be able to purchase the exact championship ring of their favorite player, but less expensive variations are available online.

Photo Credit: Jostens]]>
<![CDATA[Kris Bryant Boasts Top-Selling Jersey in MLB ]]> Mon, 05 Oct 2015 11:58:56 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/Cubs+Fans.png

The Chicago Cubs have become a massive success on the field this season, and off the field they’re also excelling as one of their players owns the top-selling jersey in Major League Baseball.

That player is rookie first baseman Kris Bryant, who was named the top-selling jersey of the year by MLB on Monday morning. Bryant is a virtual lock to win NL Rookie of the Year honors, slugging 26 home runs and driving in 99 RBI in his first season with the Cubs.

Bryant wasn’t the only Cubs player to make the list of the top 10 jerseys, either. First baseman Anthony Rizzo also made the list, finishing in the eighth spot. Overall, Cubs’ merchandise sales rose by a whopping 80 percent during the 2015 season, only outpaced by the 95 percent growth in New York Mets sales.

Madison Bumgarner, Buster Posey, Clayton Kershaw, and Mike Trout round out the top five in jersey sales for the year, with Trout serving as the only player in the top 10 to play for an American League team.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Gould Compares Himself to MJ After Game-Winning Field Goal ]]> Mon, 05 Oct 2015 11:50:23 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/robbie+gould+field+goal.jpg

It isn’t every day that a football player compares himself to Michael Jordan, but after the Chicago Bears knocked off the Oakland Raiders by a score of 22-20 on Sunday afternoon, kicker Robbie Gould invoked the Bulls legend when talking about his game-winning field goal.

Gould nailed a 49-yard field goal in the closing seconds of the game to finish off the victory, and in the locker room following the game he talked about his love of having to kick in crunch time.

“Listen, Michael Jordan never said he didn’t want the ball at the end of the game,” he told CSN Chicago. “That’s your opportunity as a kicker to earn that respect in the locker room. Earn the respect of your teammates. Big players make big plays in big situations.”

Gould’s teammate Martellus Bennett didn’t agree with the kicker’s chosen basketball counterpart, instead offering his own suggestion for whom Gould reminded him of.

“He needs to be more like Steve Kerr,” he said. “You know sometimes Mike gets double-teamed and he has to spot up. So he sees Kerr out of his peripheral so he pitched it back to Gould in that situation. He hit the three and won.”

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Shortest Chicago Marathon Route Follows the Dashed “Blue Line” ]]> Mon, 05 Oct 2015 08:54:12 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/219*120/marathon+blue+line.jpg

It may come as a surprise that a professional road-marking company plays a crucial role in ensuring Chicago marathoners run their fastest times on Oct. 11. However, the dashed “blue line” painted on city streets by Naperville-based D2K Traffic is the shortest possible race route.

This line represents not only “a quick and efficient route to the finish line,” according to a statement released by marathon organizers, but also, “official measurements taken by city and race experts to ensure the Bank of America Chicago Marathon course is exact.”

For D2K Traffic, the process of painting the route is elaborate and time consuming. “It takes a crew from D2K Traffic about five hours of intensive work, completed overnight, to paint the line in its correct place,” marathon officials said. “After the race, the paint washes away with the rain.”

D2K Traffic worked last week preparing the blue line, now visible throughout the 29 neighborhoods of the 26.2-mile Chicago Marathon course, for the more than 40,000 runners who will toe the starting line on Oct. 11.

“For athletes leading the pack, and participants going after a personal record, knowing exactly where to run to complete the shortest possible route is crucial, avoiding any unnecessary added distance, no matter how small the inch,” marathon officials said in their statement. 

For the 2015 Chicago Marathon, it’s a road marking company that’s helping runners go the (least) distance.

Photo Credit: NBCChicago.com]]>
<![CDATA[Can Upstart Cubs Knock Off Pirates?]]> Mon, 05 Oct 2015 12:03:06 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/Cubs2.png

The Chicago Cubs won 97 games and made huge strides forward as an organization this season, but their reward is hardly a sweet one as they will have to go on the road to face the Pittsburgh Pirates in the National League Wild Card Game on Wednesday night.

Despite the absurdity of finishing in third place in the NL Central with a 97-65 record, the Cubs have plenty to be proud of this season. In all likelihood the team will be right in the thick of the race for numerous awards, including the Cy Young (Jake Arrieta), MVP (Anthony Rizzo), Rookie of the Year (Kris Bryant), and Manager of the Year (Joe Maddon). They also are performing at an incredible level for a club with five starting position players that are 25 or younger, and the future is bright on the north side.

Even with all of these positive stories and all of the incredibly play the Cubs have displayed this season, they are in for a stern test when they battle the Pirates. Pittsburgh is anchored by an excellent pitching staff and a solid bullpen, and their offense is full of threats as guys like Andrew McCutchen and Pedro Alvarez have given opposing hitters fits all season long.

In addition to their powerful lineup and solid rotation, the Pirates also have something that the Cubs don’t really have: playoff experience. The Pirates are in the Wild Card Game for the third consecutive season, having won and advanced in the 2013 postseason and lost in 2014 to the eventual World Series champion San Francisco Giants.

That kind of scar tissue certainly gives the Pirates both an understanding of how to win in a winner-take-all environment and a desire to avoid a similar fate to the one they experienced last season, but does it give the Pirates an advantage over the Cubs when the two teams square off on Wednesday?

The answer, in short, is no. The Cubs have plenty of veteran know-how in their lineup, with guys like Dexter Fowler, Miguel Montero, and Jon Lester all well aware of what it takes to win in October.

The calming presence of Maddon is also a huge factor in a high-pressure situation like the one the Cubs will walk into on Wednesday, as he’s been through the battles and seen first-hand just how much the pressure of the moment can impact the performance of a team, especially a young and inexperienced one like Chicago.

When push comes to shove, there is one scary thought that Cubs fans (and Pirates fans, for that matter) need to keep in mind: the Wild Card Game is essentially a coin-flip proposition, with both teams boasting an equal chance of winning and advancing to play the St. Louis Cardinals in the next round. It’s hardly an ideal scenario for two teams that won close to 100 games apiece, but when it comes to the cauldron of October, perhaps it’s better to just get the formality out of the way and go right to the pressure-cooker of postseason play.

<![CDATA[Student Convinces Professor to Move Test for Cubs Game]]> Mon, 05 Oct 2015 06:15:39 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/Cubs+Fans.png

The Chicago Cubs don’t make it to the playoffs very often, so when they do, it is a very special occasion. But one dedicated fan was faced with a conundrum when he found out that his family had secured tickets to the team’s Wild Card Game against the Pittsburgh Pirates on Wednesday night:

Go to the game, or take a midterm exam at the University of Illinois?

Fortunately, UIUC student Ben Larson didn’t have to make that choice. His professor agreed to move his midterm exam so that he could go to the game in Pittsburgh, which will determine which team gets to play the St. Louis Cardinals in the NLDS later this week.

Here is the letter that Larson wrote to his professor, and the professor's response:

"The universe only gives cubs fans so many post-season games. They must be savored," according to the email the student posted online.

We’d imagine that there will be plenty of stories coming out over the next few days of people being afflicted with the “blue flu" ahead of Wednesday’s game, but this one is a winner both because of Larson’s dedication and his professor’s willingness to allow a student to potentially experience history.

H/T to Sports Illustrated

Photo Credit: Getty Images
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<![CDATA[Report: Willie Young Requests Trade From Bears]]> Mon, 05 Oct 2015 05:45:37 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/160*124/GettyImages-459083082.jpg

The Chicago Bears have shown a willingness to make trades in recent days, but there could be another player that’s requesting to be put on the trading block by the team.

That player is Willie Young, and according to Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk, the outside linebacker has requested a trade in the aftermath of the deal that sent Jared Allen to the Carolina Panthers.

Here is what Florio had to say:

“Young, like Allen, prefers playing defensive end in the 4-3 to playing linebacker in the 3-4. Last year as a defense end in the 4-3, Young had 10 sacks before tearing an Achilles tendon. In three games this year (he didn’t play in Week Three at Seattle), Young has no sacks.”

It perhaps isn’t all that surprising that Young wants out of Chicago. He was excellent last year for the Bears in Mel Tucker’s 4-3 defensive scheme, and with the history of the team running that style of defense, Young had to figure that he would be an integral part of the lineup this season. When Vic Fangio came in and switched the team to a 3-4 scheme, it forced Young to switch to linebacker, and he hasn’t quite found his sea legs at the position.

It’s unclear at this point if the Bears would be willing to trade Young away, but Ryan Pace has made it a point to begin stockpiling draft picks for next year, and with a team-friendly contract and an excellent 2014 season on his resume, Young could be a player that could net a good return.

<![CDATA[3 Biggest Takeaways From Bears' Victory Over Raiders]]> Mon, 05 Oct 2015 07:56:37 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/180*120/GettyImages-491302240+%281%29.jpg

The Chicago Bears hadn’t won a game in 11 months, but they finally came through on Sunday afternoon as a Robbie Gould field goal lifted them to a 22-20 victory over the Oakland Raiders.

With the afterglow of victory still burning strong, we’ll take a look at three positive developments from the game.

Pass Rush Continues to Improve

The Bears’ pass rush was sorely lacking in the opening week of the season, but they’re slowly coming around as they continue to gel as a group in Vic Fangio’s new 3-4 defense.

The biggest contributor to this surge in effectiveness has been Pernell McPhee, who was all over the field on Sunday as he disrupted several plays and grabbed his first interception as a member of the Bears. He also racked up eight total tackles and a tackle for a loss during the contest as he continues to show himself to be the cornerstone of this defense.

Ryan Pace certainly can count McPhee as a free agent hit thus far, and Jarvis Jenkins also fits that bill. Known primarily as a run-stopper, Jenkins has gone from a player that would likely only line up against the run to a guy that is versatile enough to handle pass rushing duties as he picked up his third sack in two weeks when he drilled Derek Carr during the game.

Eddie Goldman also had a good game up the middle for the Bears, picking up a sack of his own as he continues to play in relief of Jeremiah Ratliff.

The Bears are slowly adding more creativity and effectiveness to their pass rush, and if they continue this progression, then this could eventually become a strength of the team when they add more weapons in the offseason.

Eddie Royal Providing Serious Punch at Receiver

The Bears have been dealing with a slew of injuries at the wide receiver position this season, but Royal provided some excellent play for the Bears during Sunday’s game. He ended up with seven receptions for 54 yards and a touchdown in the game, but it was his ability to elude tacklers and grab first downs that really stood out.

Royal got things started early in the first quarter when he snared a pass near the five-yard line, and he found his way into the end zone to give the Bears an early lead. He hauled in a similar catch later on in in the quarter to get a first down, taking advantage of a big Matt Forte block on the right side of the line to turn the corner and get enough yardage to keep the drive going.

Royal also caught a key pass on a 3rd-and-8 situation late in the game, and although this particular drive ended abruptly because of a Jay Cutler interception, it was just another example of Royal doing what needed to be done to help the Bears win.

When Alshon Jeffery returns to the lineup, Royal is going to be a tremendous weapon for the Bears out of the slot, and with his speed and elusiveness, he will add a big-time threat that Adam Gase will be able to exploit as the season wears on.

Robbie Gould Dazzles in Big Performance for Bears

Some NFL kickers would get unnerved if their first extra point attempt of a game was blocked, but then again, Gould isn’t most kickers.

The veteran special teams ace was in fine form after his first kick of the contest was batted down by the Raiders, drilling three field goals and knocking through a 49-yarder to clinch the Bears’ first victory of the John Fox era.

After struggling in the preseason, there were some questions over whether Gould would become a liability for the Bears this season, but he has been anything but. With kickers all over the NFL missing simple kicks and struggling because of rule changes, Gould has been remarkably consistent for the Bears, and he has been one of the team’s biggest bright spots so far this season.

<![CDATA[Hawks Headlines: Panarin Debuts, Bickell Motivated]]> Mon, 05 Oct 2015 05:12:11 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/160*123/182617445.jpg

In this edition of Hawks Headlines, we will be taking a look at the debut of Chicago Blackhawks prospect Artemi Panarin, how clearing waivers has motivated Bryan Bickell, and how Stan Bowman is approaching defending a Stanley Cup championship for the third time.

- Panarin made his debut for the Blackhawks in their final preseason game on Saturday night, and he definitely impressed as his stick-handling and offensive acumen were on full display. The organization has high hopes for him this season, and he recognizes the challenge ahead. [Chicago Tribune]

- Blackhawks winger Bryan Bickell was placed on waivers this week, and although he did clear, he is still on the Hawks’ roster. Despite the decision to waive him and potentially send him down to Rockford, Bickell is still motivated to prove that he deserves a spot on the roster. [ESPN Chicago]

- The Blackhawks now have a slew of key players locked up to long term deals after Brent Seabrook signed an extension in September, but what does that mean for the team long-term? Mark Lazerus explains how Bowman and company are playing the long-game for the Hawks. [Chicago Sun-Times]

- Can the Blackhawks repeat as champions? As Greg Beacham explains, the race to win the Cup is as wide open as ever this season. [Yahoo Sports]

- Raffi Torres, whom was suspended during the 2012 playoffs for a vicious blow to the head of Blackhawks forward Marian Hossa, is in trouble again after drilling Ducks forward Jakub Silfverberg in the head during a preseason game over the weekend. He will have a hearing with the NHL Monday. [The Hockey Writers]

- Finally, blog author James Neveau will begin co-hosting a Blackhawks podcast this week with Jay Zawaski of 670 the Score. Stay tuned to this space for more information, follow the podcast’s Facebook page, or follow the guys on Twitter @JamesNeveau and @JayZawaski670.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Top NFL Photos: Week 4]]> Mon, 05 Oct 2015 23:19:04 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/GettyImages-491476626.jpg See the top photos from week 4 of the NFL.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Cubs Will Open Postseason in Pittsburgh vs. Pirates ]]> Sun, 04 Oct 2015 17:21:45 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/pedro+stroup+cubs+pirates.jpg

The Chicago Cubs did their part on Sunday afternoon as they beat the Milwaukee Brewers, but the Pittsburgh Pirates did not as they knocked off the Cincinnati Reds and clinched home-field advantage in Wednesday’s National League wild card game.

The Cubs’ victory was their eighth consecutive win to wrap up the regular season, and they pushed their record to 97-65, their best mark since the 2008 season. The Pirates sent the Reds to their 14th loss in their final 15 games of the season, leaving Pittsburgh with a 98-64 record and the benefit of playing in Wednesday’s winner-take-all game against the Cubs at PNC Park.

For the Cubs, the news that they will not be opening the postseason at Wrigley Field is not ideal, but it’s hardly a deal breaker: the Cubs finished the regular season with 48 road victories, the highest total in baseball this season.

First pitch of the wild card game will take place at 7:08 p.m. Central Time on Wednesday night, with the game airing on TBS. The Pirates will send Gerrit Cole to the mound to face the Cubs, and Chicago will counter with 22-game winner Jake Arrieta.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Will Montgomery Fractures Fibula in Win Over Raiders ]]> Sun, 04 Oct 2015 16:39:05 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/will+montgomery+injured.jpg

The Chicago Bears have received plenty of bad news on the injury front so far this season, but things took another downward turn on Sunday when center Will Montgomery broke his fibula, according to head coach John Fox.

The injury likely means that Montgomery will be out of the lineup for the remainder of the season. He was signed during the offseason to replace center Roberto Garza, and he was looked at as a new anchor in the middle of an offensive line that needed some fine-tuning.

Matt Slauson shifted over to the center position during the game on Sunday, which culminated in a 22-20 win over the Oakland Raiders at Soldier Field. At this point, it would appear that the Bears’ options are to have Slauson continue to play center or to have rookie center Hroniss Grasu on the field next week when they take on the Kansas City Chiefs.

Starting safety Antrel Rolle also left the game with an ankle injury, but he revealed that X-rays on the ankle were negative following the game.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Cubs Could Nab Home-Field Advantage for Wild Card Game ]]> Sun, 04 Oct 2015 14:49:45 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/180*120/GettyImages-482089370.jpg

The Chicago Cubs are playing their final game of the regular season on Sunday afternoon, but there is a lot more at stake than just a victory over the Milwaukee Brewers.

That’s because the Cubs are in a position to potentially grab home-field advantage for Wednesday’s wild card game. They would need to win their game against the Brewers up at Miller Park, and they would also need the Pittsburgh Pirates to lose to the Cincinnati Reds when those two teams square off on the season’s final day.

If the Pirates lose and the Cubs win, both teams would finish the season with 97 victories, but the Cubs would get home-field advantage by virtue of their superior head-to-head record against this Pirates as Chicago has won 11 of the 19 meetings between the teams this season.

If the Pirates win or the Cubs lose, then Wednesday’s one-game wild card playoff will take place at PNC Park in Pittsburgh.

Even if the Cubs don’t end up getting home-field advantage for the winner-take-all game, they still will go into it with plenty of confidence, as they have the league’s best road record this season.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Blackhawks Take Field Trip to Soldier Field]]> Sun, 04 Oct 2015 12:33:41 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/brent+seabrooks+soldier+field.jpg

The Chicago Blackhawks will start their Stanley Cup championship defense on Wednesday, but the team took some time to have a little fun on Sunday when they traveled to Soldier Field to watch another Chicago team play.

Numerous players, including Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane and Brent Seabrook, all made the trip to the stadium as the Bears prepared to play the Oakland Raiders.

Toews and Kane joined teammates Marcus Kruger and Andrew Shaw on the sideline before the game:

Seabrook also brought his young son Carter to take in the contest:


Family day at the Bears game. ����

A photo posted by Chicago Blackhawks (@nhlblackhawks) on

With some help from Kane, Shaw booted a field goal through the uprights, but he forgot a little something in the process: his shoe.

<![CDATA[Gould Field Goal Gives Bears 22-20 Win ]]> Sun, 04 Oct 2015 16:08:11 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/robbie+gould+field+goal+raiders.jpg

The Chicago Bears got four field goals from Robbie Gould and two touchdown passes from Jay Cutler to knock off the Oakland Raiders by a score of 22-20 on Sunday at Soldier Field.

The victory is Chicago’s first of the season after they lost their first three games in a row.

The Bears got off to a flying start as Jay Cutler came out of the gate firing. He found Martellus Bennett on a deep completion over the middle of the field, and then Marquess Wilson racked up an excellent catch of his own as he brought the ball deep into the red zone. Cutler finished off the drive with a touchdown pass to Eddie Royal to give the Bears a 6-0 lead early in the game.

The Raiders’ offense struggled in a big way to get going in the first quarter of the game, only getting nine plays throughout the frame. The Bears’ defensive line did some great work in stopping Latavius Murray on several runs, and Tracy Porter executed some great coverage on Amari Cooper to limit the Raiders’ passing game as well as the Bears held onto their lead through the end of the quarter.

Unfortunately for Chicago, the good times didn’t last, and they gave up the lead early in the second quarter. Murray grabbed a screen pass from Carr and picked up a long first down gain to keep the drive going, and Cooper finished it off as he hauled in a pass in the back of the end zone and somehow kept both feet in-bounds to give the Raiders a 7-6 lead.

After Cutler fumbled a snap from Matt Slauson, the Raiders took the ball and quickly scored again. Cooper moved the Raiders into the red zone with an excellent catch and run, and Roy Helu did the rest as he danced into the end zone to give Oakland a 14-6 advantage about halfway through the second quarter.

The Bears responded well to the adversity, and they scored another touchdown late in the first half to cut into Oakland’s lead. Matt Forte had several big runs and pass catches to get the drive going, and ultimately Cutler finished off the drive with a touchdown pass as he found Martellus Bennett wide open in the back of the end zone to make it a 14-13 game.

After a Pernell McPhee interception gave the Bears back the ball late in the half, they ended up getting a quick field goal from Robbie Gould to give themselves a 16-14 lead at halftime.

The Raiders and Bears traded turnovers early in the third quarter as Carr threw an interception and Forte lost a fumble, and the Raiders were the team that eventually took advantage. Kyle Fuller did make a big play to prevent a first down deep in the red zone however, and the Raiders were forced to take a field goal from Sebastian Janikowski to make it a 17-16 game.

Early in the fourth quarter, the Bears were driving into Raiders territory, but their momentum was sapped thanks to a questionable delay of game penalty. Undeterred, Gould blasted home a 54-yard field goal to give the Bears a 19-17 lead with about 13 minutes remaining in the contest.

On a sweep play later in the quarter, Murray coughed up a fumble, and the Bears got the ball with excellent field position. Royal made a big play to convert on a 3rd-and-8 for Chicago, but just a few plays later, everything came undone as Cutler threw an interception into the waiting arms of Charles Woodson to give Oakland the ball and a chance to take back the lead.

The Raiders did ultimately grab the lead, but the Bears’ defense prevented them from scoring a touchdown. McPhee made a huge play late in the drive to stop Helu in the backfield, but Janikowski was still able to boot the ball through the uprights to make it a 20-19 game.

The Bears didn’t quit however, and after several great plays by Forte and Wilson, Gould stepped up with a 49-yard field goal attempt. He drilled it right between the uprights, and the Bears took home their first win of the season.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Raiders vs. Bears: Offensive Preview ]]> Sat, 03 Oct 2015 15:23:12 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/bears+raiders+1.jpg

When the NFL schedule came out earlier this year, Chicago Bears fans circled Week 4 against the Oakland Raiders as a potentially easy game after a tough start to the campaign, but the Raiders could prove to be anything but easy to beat on Sunday at Soldier Field.

That’s because the Raiders’ offense has been one of the most impressive in the league thus far, and it all begins with their potent passing game. Derek Carr, whom the Raiders drafted in the second round of the 2014 NFL Draft, has been positively brilliant this season for the team, completing 63.3 percent of his passes while throwing for 726 yards and five touchdowns in three games.

A big part of Carr's success has been rookie wide receiver Amari Cooper, whom the Raiders drafted in the first round of this year’s draft. The Alabama product has 20 catches on the young season, racking up 290 yards and a touchdown in the process. He also has a remarkable 178 yards after the catch, displaying speed and field awareness that aren’t common characteristics of a receiver of his experience level.

The Raiders have also gotten a good amount of production from their second wide receiver, with Michael Crabtree averaging six catches and 61 yards per game so far this season. He also leads the team in first downs, racking up 12 of them for the Raiders so far on the young season.

As if all of that passing firepower wasn’t enough, the Raiders also have a solid run game going behind Latavius Murray. The back is averaging 4.8 yards per carry this season, racking up 248 yards and two touchdowns so far.

To cap off everything, the Raiders take care of the ball extremely well. Through three games, the team has just three turnovers, with Carr and Matt McGloin with one interception apiece and Cooper losing a fumble for the only turnovers that the team has committed.

When one contrasts that kind of effectiveness with the Bears’ offensive struggles, the results can be jarring. The Bears’ passing game hasn’t looked all that great even with Jay Cutler at the helm this season, and it’s still questionable as to whether or not he’ll be able to play on Sunday. If he can’t, then Jimmy Clausen will likely be under center, and with his poor performance against the Seattle Seahawks in a Week 3 loss, there isn’t much reason for optimism if he gets the call in this one.

The Bears’ running game has been an effective weapon this season, but with their struggles against Seattle last week, they weren’t able to keep the ball long enough to get into any sort of rhythm. That will be a key component going up against a Raiders’ defense that hasn’t been great at stopping the run this season, and if that trend continues then Matt Forte and Jeremy Langford could have big games for the Bears on Sunday.

One thing to keep an eye on in the run game will be whether or not the Bears can get effective blocking on the left side of their line. They got some good news on the right side as Kyle Long won’t have to wear a cast on his hand during Sunday’s game, but the team will not have Jermon Bushrod at left tackle against the Raiders, and they’ll have to rely on Charles Leno Jr. as they look to re-establish their rushing attack.

The Bears' wide receiver corps could also be weakened on Sunday, as Alshon Jeffery has reportedly been ruled out of the contest. On the official injury report, Jeffery is listed as questionable for the game, but there still isn't much optimism that he will make his way back onto the field. 

Needless to say, the Raiders seem to hold the edge on offense this week, but with an improving pass rush and the potential to have Cutler back under center, the Bears could start to have a bit of a turnaround this week despite some struggles early on in the season. 

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Artemi Panarin to Make Blackhawks Debut vs. Dallas ]]> Sat, 03 Oct 2015 14:57:55 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/artemi+panarin+russia.jpg

As the Chicago Blackhawks take the ice for the final time during the preseason on Saturday night when they welcome the Dallas Stars to the United Center, the team will display a lineup that is likely very close to the one they will use on opening night next week.

The Blackhawks will welcome a new face to the ice on Saturday, as Artemi Panarin will make his Hawks debut in the game. The highly-touted Russian star has a ton of potential to be a prolific goal scorer in the NHL, and the team will look to exploit that skill as they put him on the second line alongside Patrick Kane and Artem Anisimov.

With the game contested on home ice, the team will also put numerous stars back in the mix, with Jonathan Toews, Marian Hossa and Kane all getting their final tune-up before the regular season begins. The three players haven’t played much during the preseason, but all three will be key contributors to the Hawks once things get underway.

Here are the four forward lines the Blackhawks will use on Saturday night:

Shaw – Toews – Hossa
Panarin – Anisimov – Kane
Bickell – Teravainen – Garbutt
Desjardins – Kruger – Baun

The only forward that will not be playing in the game is Viktor Tikhonov, who could potentially replace Bryan Bickell if he ends up being sent down to the Rockford IceHogs before rosters are finalized next week. Bickell was placed on waivers by the Blackhawks on Friday, and he cleared without being claimed on Saturday morning.

The Blackhawks’ primary defensemen will also be in the game on Saturday, with Duncan Keith, Brent Seabrook and Niklas Hjalmarsson all hitting the ice as the team looks to grab one more victory before they open the season against the New York Rangers on Wednesday.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Cubs Reach 2 Milestones in Friday Win vs. Milwaukee ]]> Sat, 03 Oct 2015 13:41:57 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/cubs+brewers+edwards.jpg

The Chicago Cubs have set all kinds of records and hit all kinds of milestones this season, and they racked up two more in a victory over the Milwaukee Brewers on Friday night.

To start with, the Cubs’ pitching staff set a new National League record for strikeouts in a season, bringing their total for the season up to 1,414. The previous record had also been held by a Cubs team, with the 2003 group accumulating 1,404 punch-outs.

The Cubs also picked up their 46th road victory of the season when they triumphed over the Brewers at Miller Park, and that mark is a notable one for the team as well. The 46 victories away from Wrigley Field represents the team’s highest total in that category since the 1945 season, when they made their World Series appearance thanks in large part to winning 49 games on the road.

The Cubs also kept their hopes alive of tying their 2008 season record of 97-65 with the win. They’ll have to win each of their final two games of the season in order to match the win total, which would be their highest since they won 98 games during the 1945 season. A win Saturday would match the Cubs’ 1984 total of 96 victories.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Chicago Marathon 2015: Street Closures]]> Fri, 02 Oct 2015 21:10:23 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/214*120/GettyImages-128040712.jpg

Over a million spectators are expected to watch Chicago marathoners run the Oct. 11 race. It will stretch 29 neighborhoods, which will allow people all over the city to see the runners.

However, it also means getting around the city that day will be a bit complicated. Here are some things to know as you try to get around Chicago on marathon day:


No Parking Zones that will be in place along the course will be enforced, starting at 1 a.m. on Sunday, Oct. 11. Street closures will be in effect from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m., though the roads in Grant Park will be closed for a longer period of time. Chicago police will close and re-open streets in a way to ensure runner and spectator safety.

Vehicle Towing

It is important to know that vehicles will be towed along the course and other No Parking zones starting at 1 a.m. on Sunday, Oct. 11. They will be ticketed and towed to the nearest auto-pound. Also, if you happen to live on one of the streets along the race’s route, you have to move your vehicle off the course by Saturday, Oct. 10. For information in the event that your vehicle gets towed, call (312) 744-4444.

Main Streets:

Lake Shore Drive 
North and southbound lanes will stay open.

Inner Lake Shore Drive
North and southbound lanes will stay open from Diversey Pkwy. all the way to Belmont Ave. Lake Shore Dr. will remain open at Belmont Ave.

Dan Ryan Expressway (I-90/94)
East and westbound lanes will remain open to motorists. However, the Southbound exit ramp to 31st St. will be closed.

Kennedy Expressway (I-90/94)
East and westbound lanes will remain open. However, the entrance and exit ramps will be closed at Adams St.

Eisenhower Expressway (I-290)
East and westbound lanes will remain open. However, the entrance and exit ramps will be closed at Westbound ramp to Damen Ave.

Stevenson Expressway (I-55)
North and southbound lanes will remain open.

Local Streets

All streets in the Loop will be open to traffic by 9 a.m on the day of the race, but public transportation is recommended.

North of the Loop
North and southbound lanes on Michigan Ave. north of 8th St. North will remain open, including access to the Magnificent Mile. Clybourn Ave., Lincoln Ave. north of Sedgwick St., and Clark St. north of Diversey Pkwy. will also remain open.

West of the Loop
Milwaukee Ave., Halsted St. north of Adams St., Ashland Ave. north of Adams St., and Damen Ave. north of Adams St. will remain open.

South of the Loop
Damen Ave. south of Van Buren St., Ashland Ave. south of 18th St., Archer Ave. west of Halsted St., and Martin Luther King Dr. will remain open.

For more information on street closures, visit the marathon's site.

Photo Credit: Getty Images/SuperStock RM]]>
<![CDATA[Steve Bartman Responds to Fundraising Drive]]> Fri, 02 Oct 2015 16:37:58 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/160*120/Bartman.jpg

Chicago Cubs fans have been trying to raise money for Steve Bartman to attend the team’s wild card game, but according to a spokesman, the famous fan isn’t going to participate in any reunion.

The spokesman, who spoke to ESPN about the situation, says that Bartman will not attend the game:

“He has no intention of being at the wild card game. Steve is glad the money will go to a good cause and will be cheering on the Cubs as always.”

According to the GoFundMe page dedicated to bringing Bartman to the game, the money will be donated to the Alzheimer’s Association if he opts not to go to the game.

<![CDATA[Robin Ventura Will Remain White Sox Manager]]> Fri, 02 Oct 2015 16:36:24 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/ventura_robing.jpg

On Friday, the Chicago White Sox fired bench coach Mark Parent, but the team will retain Robin Ventura as manager, according to G.M. Rick Hahn.

Colleen Kane of the Chicago Tribune revealed the news as Hahn spoke prior to Friday’s game against the Detroit Tigers:

Ventura, who has a record of 295-350 and just one winning season on the South Side, has come under fire this season as the White Sox have struggled to live up to expectations. An offseason spending spree brought in free agents like Melky Cabrera, Adam LaRoche, and David Robertson, but it wasn’t enough as the White Sox will finish with a below-.500 record for the third consecutive season.

The White Sox have not made the postseason since the 2008 season, and with a depleted farm system and underachieving players at the big league level, there have been plenty of questions about how the team will respond to the issues facing them. With Ventura’s retention, it appears the team will largely keep the status quo in place.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Video: Kris Bryant, Girlfriend Lip Sync Tune From "Frozen"]]> Fri, 02 Oct 2015 23:08:37 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/kris+bryant+sunflower+seeds.jpg

On Thursday afternoon, the Chicago Cubs dressed up as pretty princesses as part of a traditional rookie ritual, but apparently Kris Bryant isn’t quite ready to give up his glamorous alter ego yet.

Bryant, who dressed as Elsa from the Disney film “Frozen” on Thursday, apparently is a big fan of the movie, judging by a video he made with his girlfriend of the pair lip-syncing one of the songs:

Bryant’s dedication to the film will surely endear him to plenty of fans, but now the real question is this: when he inevitably wins the NL Rookie of the Year award, will he wear this to the ceremony:

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Video Game Simulation Not Kind to Blackhawks]]> Fri, 02 Oct 2015 15:05:14 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/parade162.jpg

Every year, EA Sports does a simulation of the upcoming NHL season, and Chicago Blackhawks fans won't be happy with the latest outcome.

According to the simulation, the Blackhawks will finish with the third-best record in the Western Conference, racking up an even 100 points. They will also beat the Colorado Avalanche in the first round of the postseason, but they won’t be able to best the Minnesota Wild, losing in a four-game sweep in the second round.

With the Blackhawks out of the picture, EA Sports is predicting that the Anaheim Ducks will knock off the Montreal Canadiens in the Stanley Cup Final, securing their second championship in franchise history.

While the Central division provides plenty of tough teams to get past both in the regular season and playoffs, the notion that the Wild could sweep the Blackhawks is tough to swallow. The two teams have met in each of the last three postseasons, and the Blackhawks have come out on top all three times, including a four-game sweep on the way to the Stanley Cup last season.

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Cubs Fans Raise Money to Send Bartman to Wild Card Game ]]> Fri, 02 Oct 2015 13:42:20 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/160*120/Bartman.jpg

It’s been 12 years since Steve Bartman cemented his place in Chicago Cubs lore, but one group of fans is extending an olive branch to the infamous fan.

On the website GoFundMe, there is a page dedicated to raising money to send Bartman to the Cubs’ wild card game next week. That game could potentially be in Pittsburgh or back at Wrigley Field, but according to the fundraiser’s description, it’s about more than just having Bartman attend a game:

“Lifelone Cubs fan wants to make amends for 2003, let’s make it happen. First we need to find him to get him to the big game. If anyone knows where he is at, tell him we are looking for him. The money would pay for his expenses including his ticket, hotel room, flights and a little spending money.

If he cannot be found by the time of the big game all the proceeds raised will be donated to the Alzheimer’s Association.”

Bartman has not made any public comments or conducted any interviews since he entered Cubs lore in 2003. During Game 6 of the NLCS against the Florida Marlins, Bartman tried catching a ball that Cubs outfielder Moises Alou was trying to catch.

Bartman quickly became a scapegoat for fans after the Cubs blew a 3-0 lead in the game and ultimately fell short of a World Series berth, and he has since avoided the spotlight entirely.

<![CDATA[Reports: Jeffery Out for Sunday's Game vs. Raiders]]> Fri, 02 Oct 2015 11:51:29 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/175*120/GettyImages-453565844.jpg

The Chicago Bears will reportedly be without their top wide receiver again on Sunday, as Alshon Jeffery will miss his third consecutive game with a hamstring injury.

The news, which came from Jeff Dickerson of ESPN Chicago and was corroborated by Ian Rapoport of NFL Network, is a big blow to the Bears after a week in which their passing attack generated just 64 yards and zero points in a 26-0 loss to the Seattle Seahawks.

Jeffery missed a huge chunk of training camp and the preseason with a calf injury, and while he did play in a Week 1 loss against the Green Bay Packers, he has only seen the field on a limited basis since. He sustained an injury in the lead-up to the Bears’ Week 2 contest against Arizona, and although he has been a limited participant in practice this week, it appears that he’s still not healthy enough to play against the Raiders Sunday.

Jeffery’s absence means continued work for Eddie Royal and Marquess Wilson as the team’s starting wide receivers, and running back Matt Forte and tight end Martellus Bennett will also stand to benefit from an increased workload.

<![CDATA[Marko Dano Among Hawks' Latest Cuts ]]> Fri, 02 Oct 2015 11:37:44 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/160*124/GettyImages-489586606.jpg

With the regular season just five days away, the Chicago Blackhawks made several roster moves on Friday as they sent down some of their top prospects.

Headlining the list is Marko Dano, whom the team acquired from the Columbus Blue Jackets in the Brandon Saad swap. Dano impressed coaches and fans during training camp, but his preseason performances weren’t quite up to snuff, and the team has opted to send him down to Rockford for more seasoning.

The Blackhawks also sent down Vincent Hinostroza (who had an excellent game in a 5-2 loss to the St. Louis Blues on Thursday), Brandon Mashinter, Dennis Rasmussen, and Garret Ross. Defensemen Erik Gustafsson and Ville Pokka have also been demoted to Rockford.

Dano's demotion is surely performance based to a degree, but it's also a reflection of how well Kyle Baun has played. Both players can be sent down to Rockford without having to clear waivers, so the Blackhawks went with the hot hand as they prepare for the regular season. 

The moves leave the Blackhawks with 13 forwards, nine defensemen, and three goaltenders on the roster. The deadline to finalize the regular season roster comes next week, and by that date the Hawks will likely jettison one goaltender (Michael Leighton) and at least two defensemen as they look to carry 22 or 23 players on the roster.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Report: Bryan Bickell Placed on Waivers by Blackhawks ]]> Fri, 02 Oct 2015 11:50:58 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/181*120/GettyImages-459635672.jpg

The Chicago Blackhawks have been trying to trade Bryan Bickell as the regular season approaches, but on Friday they reportedly took another step as they placed the winger on waivers.

That report, which comes from Elliotte Friedman, indicates that the Blackhawks are exploring other options on how to get Bickell off of their NHL roster and to free up salary cap space in the process:

While the Blackhawks will still have the option to trade Bickell if he clears waivers (and with a $4 million annual salary, it seems likely that he will), they will more likely send him down to the AHL’s Rockford IceHogs instead.

The Blackhawks will also have the option to place Bickell on long term injured reserve (LTIR) once the NHL season offically begins. The designation would allow the Blackhawks to spend an extra $4 million to replace him, and would allow them a great deal of flexibility with their roster. 

Bickell has dealt with vertigo issues since the 2015 Stanley Cup Playoffs, where he was forced to miss time with the ailment. He has participated in training camp and in preseason games, but the Blackhawks could still sit him out if he's not at 100 percent. 

The move would save the Blackhawks $950,000 in cap space, but they would still carry a $3.05 million cap hit on their NHL roster because of rule changes in the last NHL Collective Bargaining Agreement.

<![CDATA[Blues Best Blackhawks 5-2 in Preseason Tilt ]]> Thu, 01 Oct 2015 22:08:50 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/209*120/GettyImages-456093080.jpg

The Chicago Blackhawks had plenty of opportunities to knock off the St. Louis Blues on Thursday night, but thanks to power play failures and two short-handed goals by the home side, the Hawks lost a 5-2 decision in their final preseason road game.

Dennis Rasmussen and Brandon Mashinter scored goals in the game for the Blackhawks, but it wasn’t enough as their defense was torn asunder by an aggressive Blues counter-attack throughout the contest.

The game started out with a flurry of goals, and St. Louis got things started early on. Viktor Svedberg made a bad pinch at the blue line to allow Dmitrij Jaskin to get into the offensive zone, and he did the rest as he ripped a shot past Scott Darling to give the Blues a 1-0 lead.

Just 14 seconds later, the Blackhawks scored a goal of their own to tie things up. Marko Dano got hammered along the boards in the offensive zone, but he was able to slide a pass over to Rasmussen. The forward’s initial shot was stopped by Jake Allen, but he grabbed his own rebound and scored to make it a 1-1 game.

A short time later, the Blackhawks scored again to seize the lead. Viktor Tikhonov cycled the puck in deep to get the play started, and when Vincent Hinostroza pushed a pass back out to the slot, Mashinter was there to fire it past Allen to give the Hawks a 2-1 lead.

The Blues got a power play a few minutes later, and they took advantage to tie things up. Jori Lethara fired a shot toward the net that skipped through traffic, and when it landed at the feet of Troy Brouwer in front of the blue paint, he didn’t miss as he flipped a shot past Darling to knot the game at 2-2.

With about three minutes to go in the first period, the Blues scored their second power play goal of the contest to take the lead back. Jaden Schwartz made the play happen as he carried the puck through the offensive zone and drew traffic away from Kevin Shattenkirk. The defenseman took a pass from Schwartz in the slot, and when he pinched in he fired a shot on net and scored to give the Blues a 3-2 lead after the first period of play.

Early in the second period, the Blues scored yet again to give themselves a solid cushion. After Schwartz broke up a cross-ice pass on a Blackhawks’ power play, he flew up the ice and dished a pass off to Lethara on a 2-on-1 rush. The winger fired a shot past Darling off a one-timer, and in the blink of an eye it was 4-2.

The Blackhawks got a slew of chances throughout the rest of the second period, but they were unable to convert. In fact, they got three power play opportunities in the first eight minutes of the frame, but they failed to score and the Blues continued to lead after two periods of play.

The Blues managed to score an insurance goal in the third period as Kyle Brodziak added a short-handed tally, and the Hawks were unable to answer as they lost for the second time in the preseason slate.

The Hawks will finish up their preseason schedule on Saturday night when they welcome the Dallas Stars to the United Center.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Cubs Rookies Dress As Princesses ]]> Thu, 01 Oct 2015 16:58:42 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/180*120/GettyImages-490736118.jpg

The Chicago Cubs have one of the most fun-loving managers in the game of baseball, and that spirit has carried over into an annual rite of passage for rookies: dress-up day.

That day for the Cubs finally arrived on Thursday after the team knocked off the Cincinnati Reds to extend their current winning streak to five games. Kris Bryant, Jorge Soler, Kyle Schwarber, and the rest of the team’s rookies celebrated the victory by dressing up as princesses in the clubhouse.

Fortunately for us, Schwarber provided photographic documentation of the event:

Before we get too distracted by Schwarber dressed as Little Red Riding Hood or Bryant dressed as Elsa from “Frozen,” we are forced by internet law to ask this question: who wore it best?

The Cubs are headed to Milwaukee for a three-game series against the Brewers that will wrap up the regular season. They will then have two days off before playing against the Pittsburgh Pirates in the National League wild card game next week.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Blackhawks Schedule Patrick Kane Bobblehead Night]]> Thu, 01 Oct 2015 16:41:01 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/180*120/kaner1.jpg

The Chicago Blackhawks revealed their schedule for home-game giveaways on Thursday and there was one gift on the list that left some fans questioning.

The Hawks are scheduled to hold a Patrick Kane bobblehead night on Jan. 24. The first 10,000 fans to arrive to see the team take on the Blues will get a free bobblehead.

The giveaway announcement comes as Kane remains under investigation for an alleged sexual assault at his New York home this summer.

The decision to schedule the giveaway sparked a lot of chatter on social media. 

Kane has not been charged in the case, but the investigation into the allegations is ongoing. Kane has since appeared at practice with the team and played in Hawks exhibition games.

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<![CDATA[Cutler Coy About Injury Status ]]> Thu, 01 Oct 2015 16:04:50 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/jay+cutler+vs+cardinals+2.jpg

The Chicago Bears welcomed Jay Cutler back to the practice field this week as they prepare to face the Oakland Raiders, but despite suiting up, the quarterback won’t say whether or not he’ll play this week.

“We’ve got a couple days left,” he said during a media availability on Thursday. “I’ll be back when I can get back.”

Cutler missed the Bears’ 26-0 loss to the Seattle Seahawks after suffering a hamstring injury during a Week 2 loss to the Arizona Cardinals. Jimmy Clausen started for the Bears against the Seahawks, throwing for just 64 yards and watching as the offense was forced to punt on all 10 of its possessions.

Despite the struggles of the offense without him, Cutler and the Bears are still exercising caution as to not rush him back from an injury that can have a tendency to linger.

“If you do come back on a hamstring earlier than you want to, it’s definitely going to be in the back of your mind because there’s that slight pull,” he said. “To have to worry about a hamstring and moving around is something that can weigh on you.”

Even with Cutler’s skepticism, the Bears have plenty of incentive to get him back on the field as they pursue their first victory: the team is 5-9 in the games that Cutler has missed since he arrived in Chicago in 2009.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Cutler, Jeffery Limited at Practice for Second Straight Day ]]> Thu, 01 Oct 2015 16:00:23 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/jay+cutler+vs+cardinals+2.jpg

 The Chicago Bears practiced at Halas Hall on Thursday, and although just about everyone on the team participated in drills, there are still plenty of injury concerns as the team prepares to face the Oakland Raiders.

Quarterback Jay Cutler was a limited participant in practice for the second consecutive day as he recovers from a hamstring injury that forced him to miss the team’s Week 3 loss to the Seattle Seahawks.

Wide receiver Alshon Jeffery was also limited once again as he deals with a hamstring ailment of his own. Also limited in the Thursday practice were Ego Ferguson (knee), Jeremiah Ratliff (ankle), Will Sutton (elbow), and Alan Ball (undisclosed).

The Bears also got punter Pat O’Donnell back on a limited basis in Thursday’s practice, as he recovers from a knee injury he sustained during the Bears’ game Sunday. The team reportedly worked out several punters at Halas Hall on Wednesday, but they’re optimistic that O’Donnell will be able to play against the Raiders.

Finally, Jermon Bushrod missed his second straight practice as he goes through the NFL’s concussion protocol, and there isn’t much optimism that he’ll be able to suit up at left tackle for the Bears on Sunday.

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