<![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 Mon, 02 Mar 2015 13:07:37 -0600 Mon, 02 Mar 2015 13:07:37 -0600 NBC Owned Television Stations <![CDATA[Teen Bowler Returns to Lanes After Health Crisis]]> Mon, 02 Mar 2015 12:28:17 -0600 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/teen-bowler.jpg Mike Partipilo is back to working toward a 300 game after emergency heart surgery. NBC Chicago's Peggy Kusinski reports.]]> <![CDATA[Blackhawks Send Ben Smith to San Jose]]> Mon, 02 Mar 2015 12:10:08 -0600 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/hawks_blurb_1_5-21.jpg

The Chicago Blackhawks have made several moves to bolster their roster ahead of Monday's NHL trade deadline, and they kept that streak going as they sent forward Ben Smith to the San Jose Sharks in exchange for forward Andrew Desjardins. 

Smith, who was drafted by the Blackhawks in the sixth round of the 2008 NHL Entry Draft, has had a bit of a rough season for Chicago this year, scoring five goals and dishing out four assists in 61 games. He has primarily been used in defensive situations and on the penalty kill, but with some tough roster choices looming next year, the team decided to move him for short-term help and to clear a bit of cap space next year. 

As for Desjardins, the 28-year old center has five goals and three assists in 58 games for the Sharks this season. The Hawks will likely use him primarily in a fourth line role down the stretch, with Antoine Vermette slotting in for Smith on the penalty killing unit. 

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[A Heart of a Champion]]> Mon, 02 Mar 2015 11:41:52 -0600 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/180*120/MIKE+PARTIPILO.png Saint Patrick's High School Bowler, Mike Partipilo, has had to overcome incredible odds early in his life. NBC 5 Sports Peggy Kusinksi reports on a young man's battle with heart failure and his perserverance to get back on the bowling lane.]]> <![CDATA[Sharp Dismisses Swirling Rumors, Ponders Legal Action]]> Sun, 01 Mar 2015 15:17:52 -0600 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/180*120/484439389.jpg

The Chicago Blackhawks have been dealing with plenty of issues on the ice in recent weeks, but with rumors swirling about the personal life of winger Patrick Sharp, the team has been contending with off-ice issues, too.

In speaking with reporters on Sunday after the Blackhawks wrapped up practice, Sharp addressed the rumors for the first time, and he discussed how difficult it’s been to focus on hockey with everything that’s been going on.

“It’s been tough,” he told the Chicago Tribune. “As a hockey player, as a professional, you’re out there and you’re up for grabs for on-ice play. I’m OK with that. Trade rumors, talk about my play on the ice – I’m fine with that. I can handle that. But when people delve into your personal life and make up rumors and things that are completely false and untrue, it takes a toll on you. And it takes a toll on your family, your friends, and it’s completely unnecessary. It’s been tough, but I know I’ve got a strong group of teammates here, we’re going to stick together.”

The rumors that have been surrounding Sharp have largely centered on marital infidelity and possible fights with teammates, but everyone involved is denying anything is amiss. Brent Seabrook called the accusations of infidelity and infighting “laughable,” and Jonathan Toews said that the team is a “tight group” and dismissed notions that there is tension in the locker room.

As for legal recourse, Sharp did say that he is considering legal action against individuals spreading the information.

“You hear things said about people all the time,” he said. “It’s like anybody can type something on a computer and get away with it and not be held responsible or accountable.”

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[White Sox Legend Minnie Minoso Dies]]> Sun, 01 Mar 2015 18:17:07 -0600 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/minnie+minoso+sox.jpg

White Sox legend Minnie Minoso, affectionately known as the "Cuban Comet," died Saturday night at 90 years old.

Minoso died of natural causes related to chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, according to the Cook County medical examiner's office.

The Cuban-born Minoso was the first black player for the South Side baseball team. He is a nine-time All-Star outfielder and Gold Glove winner.

Minoso made his debut at Comiskey Park in 1951, and his play time with the team spanned four decades. He was named as a candidate for induction into baseball's Hall of Fame in 2012 but was denied last year.

In tweet after his death, the White Sox said, "Minnie Minoso -- Mr. #WhiteSox -- has died. Tears of sadness are falling for a great man."

The Minoso family confirmed the death Sunday afternoon in a statement to the press.

"Minnie lived a full life of joy and happiness, surrounded always by friends and family," the family said. "It is during moments like these that love matters most. Minnie enjoyed nothing more than to be at the ballpark cheering on his White Sox. For Minnie, every day was a reason to smile."

Minoso appeared in a total of 1,835 career games over 17 major-league seasons with Cleveland, the White Sox, St. Louis and Washington.

Minoso's influence reached far beyond the baseball stadium. As the first black Major League player in Chicago, he served as an inspiration to countless young people, including President Barack Obama.

"Minnie may  have been passed over by the Baseball Hall of Fame during his lifetime, but for me and for generations of black and Latino young people, Minnie's quintessentially American story embodies far more than a plaque ever could," the president said in a statement.

Governor Bruce Rauner called Minoso "a trailblazer, a leader and an extraordinary baseball player."

In Chicago, Mayor Rahm Emanuel said Minoso's "infectious enthusiasm forever solidified his place as a Chicago icon for the ages."

The Chicago Cubs also released a statement expressing their condolences for the White Sox.

"Having recently lost one of our all-time greats Ernie Banks, we share the heartache with the White Sox organization and fans everywhere who were blessed to enjoy the talent, heart and passion of Mr. White Sox," the North Side team said. "He will be forever known as an electric offensive player and great ambassador for the game of baseball."

According to the Chicago White Sox, Minoso once talked about wearing his Sox uniform till the day he died -- and even afterward.

"When I die, I want to be playing baseball," Minoso said. "Truly. They don't bury me without my uniform. If I die, I die happy because I was wearing No. 9 for the White Sox."

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Blackhawks Acquire Vermette from Coyotes in Blockbuster Trade ]]> Sat, 28 Feb 2015 21:09:49 -0600 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/172*120/blackhawks+coyotes+game+2.33.jpg

The Chicago Blackhawks aren't a team that normally makes big splashes in the trade market, but Patrick Kane's injury forced their hand as they acquired center Antoine Vermette from the Arizona Coyotes.

In exchance, the Coyotes will recieve defensive prospect Klas Dahlbeck and Chicago's first round pick in the 2015 NHL Entry Draft. The trade was first reported by ESPN's Pierre LeBrun.

The price is steep for a player who will only be around for a few months, as Vermette is a free agent at season's end, but in Vermette the Blackhawks get a player that can help them in several areas. Their center depth, long a question mark with teams like the Anaheim Ducks and Los Angeles Kings boasting quality groups up the middle, is bolstered with the deal, allowing Andrew Shaw and Teuvo Teravainen to play on the wing.

In addition, the Blackhawks' penalty kill will get better, as Vermette is an excellent penalty killer and can take some of the pressure off of Jonathan Toews and Marian Hossa in that department.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Agent Says Sharp Won't be Traded Before Monday's Deadline ]]> Sat, 28 Feb 2015 16:07:16 -0600 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/180*120/460889976.jpg

The Chicago Blackhawks have been reportedly shopping winger Patrick Sharp as Monday’s NHL trade deadline approaches, but according to his agent, the speculation is unwarranted.

Talking to Chris Kuc of the Chicago Tribune, Sharp’s agent Rick Curran said that he spoke with Blackhawks G.M. Stan Bowman on Thursday and was given assurances that the team has no intention of moving Sharp out of Chicago before the deadline.

Sharp, who has two years remaining on his contract with the Blackhawks, has been the subject of trade rumors before, but with the team facing a salary cap crunch next season and with Patrick Kane on the shelf, reports have been swirling that the team might use the veteran forward in order to get another top six forward before the postseason begins in April.

Sharp has been in a serious funk as of late, scoring only one goal in his last 22 games, and he’s been moved all over the lineup as head coach Joel Quenneville has tried to get things kickstarted.

Nothing concrete has occurred on the Sharp trade front, but teams like the Washington Capitals, Detroit Red Wings and Montreal Canadiens have all been rumored to be interested in the winger’s services.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Ex-Knick Anthony Mason Dies at 48]]> Mon, 02 Mar 2015 09:34:43 -0600 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/22815mason.jpg

Anthony Mason, one of the Knicks’ most popular players of the 1990s who had one All-Star season during a 13-year pro career, has died following a massive heart attack, the team said Saturday. He was 48.

According to multiple reports and league sources, Mason had been fighting for his life after undergoing multiple surgeries over the last few days. Veteran NBA writer Peter Vescey broke the news Wednesday about Mason.

The Springfield Gardens, Queens, native was a bruising power forward with a no-nonsense demeanor on the court, and he had a fan-pleasing blue-collar work ethic. He came up from the minor leagues and also played overseas before finally making the NBA.

Mason won the NBA’s Sixth Man Award in 1994-95, a season after helping the Knicks reach the NBA Finals for the first time since 1973. The Knicks lost to the Rockets in seven games.

On Saturday, Anthony Mason Jr. issued a statement following his dad's death.

"Overnight New York City and the world lost a legend, a friend, a brother - but more than anything our father. ... As you all would expect our father - Big Mase - put up an incredible fight, dealing with a severe heart issue," he said.

"Pops we've got to let you know we love you and know you'll always be with us," Anthony Mason Jr. said.

Figures from Mason's past took to Twitter to express their grief.

"We gonna miss u brother," tweeted Charles Oakley. 

"A great athlete and true gentleman. He will be missed," wrote the Rev. Al Sharpton.

When Don Nelson succeeded Pat Riley in 1995-96 as the Knicks' head coach, Mason was at the center of a full-blown controversy. Nelson decided to make Mason the focal point of the Knicks’ attack, going away from perennial All-Star and the face of the franchise, Patrick Ewing. Nelson’s move was unpopular with Ewing and other Knicks and led to his removal as head coach only 59 games into his first and only season in New York.

“For Nelson to do that was amazing," former Knicks great Bernard King told NBC 4 New York. “Patrick was still a dominant player in the league at that time. While Anthony was a very good player for the Knicks, Patrick was still one of the best players in the league."

Mason was later traded to Charlotte in the famous Larry Johnson deal that helped key the Knicks’ success in the late 1990’s, culminating with a trip to the NBA Finals in 1999, where the Knicks lost to the Spurs. That was the first of Tim Duncan's five title teams.

Mason later played for Riley in Miami, becoming an All-Star in 2001 as an injury replacement for Grant Hill.

-- Mitch Lawrence contributed to this report.

Longtime New York columnist Mitch Lawrence continues to write about pro basketball, as he’s done for the last 22 years. His columns for NBCNewYork.com on the Knicks, Brooklyn Nets and the NBA, along with other major sports, appear twice weekly. Follow him on Twitter.

<![CDATA[Report: Blackhawks Pursuing Vermette Trade]]> Fri, 27 Feb 2015 13:15:18 -0600 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/172*120/blackhawks+coyotes+game+2.33.jpg

The injury to Patrick Kane and the continued struggles of their blue line have left the Chicago Blackhawks in an unfamiliar spot as Monday’s NHL trade deadline approaches: that of buyers.

Historically, G.M. Stan Bowman has largely stayed out of the fray, making minor acquisitions like Michal Handzus and David Rundblad and eschewing the type of bigger ticket deals that make headlines and splash through the NHL world.

Current reality does seem to be setting in for Bowman however, and much like this seal that’s afraid of going into the water, it seems as though he’s finally going to make the dive.

According to a report by Elliotte Friedman, two potential targets on his radar are Arizona Coyotes center Antoine Vermette and defenseman Zybnek Michalek:

“So the one thing I also have wondered about Chicago is if they’re trying to get both Vermette and Michalek out of Arizona. There are a couple of teams I think are trying to do that. Michalek’s situation is a little muddy right now because he’s battling a concussion, and I think the Coyotes know their best chance of getting value for him right now is by packaging him with Vermette. I think Chicago is a team that would do that.”

The benefits of acquiring Vermette and Michalek would be pretty high for the Blackhawks. With Kane on long-term injured reserve, the team has a great deal of salary cap flexibility, and they have the ability to add both of these players on for the remainder of the season without having to worry about making any other moves to clear up space. Both players are also free agents at the end of the season, so the Hawks wouldn’t have to worry about clearing them out as they head into next season’s cap crunch with a need to trim some players from their current roster.

In addition to the financial element, the Blackhawks could also benefit from getting these players on the ice. Vermette is an excellent face-off taker for the Coyotes, winning over 56 percent of the draws that he takes, and he also is one of the team’s primary penalty killing forwards, so he could bolster Chicago’s depth in that area too.

Vermette’s presence would also mean that both Teuvo Teravainen and Andrew Shaw (assuming the latter isn’t included as part of the package heading back to Arizona) would be able to play on the wing, where they’re more suited to play at this point. Teravainen could be a center moving forward, but the thought of putting him on a wing with either Vermette or Brad Richards is certainly a tantalizing thought for the Blackhawks.

As for Michalek, he is dealing with some concussion issues, but if he can get past those (and the Hawks would certainly get assurances that he can before they’d pull the trigger on a deal), he is definitely the type of guy they need. His offensive numbers aren’t great, with only two goals and six assists in 53 games this season, but he is a high-impact possession player (check out this graph that stats guru Jen LC dug up) that suppresses shots and helps get play moving the other way.

Part of that impact certainly comes from playing with a young stalwart like Oliver Ekman-Larsson on his pairing, but Michalek’s style is what the Hawks desperately need, and what downturn there would be in terms of his statistical output would be matched by the increased depth that the team would have on the back end as they head toward the postseason.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Rose Out 4-6 Weeks After Knee Surgery ]]> Fri, 27 Feb 2015 10:53:26 -0600 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/160*124/tlmd-derrik-rose-lesioando.jpg

Chicago Bulls fans can take a deep breath on Friday morning, as G.M. Gar Forman said that Derrick Rose is expected to miss four to six weeks after undergoing successful surgery on his torn right meniscus.

“We expect Derrick to be playing this season,” Forman told the media after the procedure was completed.

The surgery, which took place on Friday, comes on the heels of Tuesday’s announcement that Rose had suffered the injury. The meniscus in his right knee is the same one that he tore last season, and the injury ultimately kept him out of the lineup for a vast majority of the season for the Bulls.

According to Forman, Rose walked out of the hospital after the procedure with “full load bearing,” and the organization is optimistic that the point guard will return before the NBA playoffs begin in April.

This is the third knee injury that Rose has suffered while a member of the Bulls. He tore the ACL in his left knee during the 2012 NBA playoffs against the Philadelphia 76’ers, and the injury cost him the entire 2012-13 season. The second injury came when he tore the meniscus in his right knee last November, and he missed the rest of the 2013-14 season while recovering.

This time however, it appears that the Bulls and Rose have dodged a bullet. Forman says that Rose will begin rehabbing the injury on Saturday, and is expected back on the court in one week.

<![CDATA[Sopel Announces Retirement from Hockey]]> Fri, 27 Feb 2015 10:27:15 -0600 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/160*130/blackhawks+050310-011.jpg

Former Chicago Blackhawks defenseman Brent Sopel has played for many teams and played a lot of games over the last 18 years, but on Friday the blue liner announced that he was hanging up his skates and retiring from the sport of hockey. 

"I have been so lucky to play the sport I love for the last eighteen years," he said in a statement. "I fulfilled a lifelong dream of winning a Stanley Cup championship with the 2010 Chicago Blackhawks. Today’s decision is not made lightly. This is the right time for my next chapter."

Sopel, who this season has been playing for the AHL's Chicago Wolves, played in the NHL for 12 seasons, making stops in Vancouver, Chicago, Los Angeles, New York, Atlanta, and Montreal. He broke into the league with the Canucks, playing 322 games with the franchise while scoring 33 goals and dishing out 97 assists. 

Where Sopel made his biggest mark was in Chicago. Playing for the 2010 team that brought the Blackhawks their first championship since 1961, Sopel was an important part of the team’s blue line group and became known for his shot blocking ability and penalty killing prowess. 

"While each professional season holds a special place in my heart, the years I spent with the Chicago Blackhawks are my fondest memories," he said of his tenure with the team. "The Chicago Blackhawks are a top class organization with a foundation for success on and off the ice."

The area away from the rink will be important to Sopel with his retirement, as he will continue to serve as a hockey analyst for NBC 5 Chicago, and he’ll also have an extended presence on the airwaves for 120 Sports. He’ll continue working on the ice as well, coaching defensive skills at his Sopel Academy of Defense camps. 

"I look forward to staying involved with hockey while maintaining family roots in Chicago," he said. "I am excited to spend more time with my children in the city we call home."

This season with the Wolves, Sopel had seven assists and scored his first goal of the year on Sunday in what would end up being his final professional game. 

"We thank Brent for his service and his professionalism this season," Wolves G.M. Wendell Young said in a statement. "He has been an excellent role model for our players. We wish him the best as he pursues other dreams in the hockey world." 

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Earl Lloyd, First Black NBA Player, Dies at 86]]> Fri, 27 Feb 2015 08:14:52 -0600 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/AP861620179640.jpg

Earl Lloyd, the first black player in NBA history, died Thursday. He was 86.

Lloyd's alma mater, West Virginia State, confirmed the death. It did not provide details.

Lloyd made his NBA debut in 1950 for the Washington Capitals, just before fellow black players Sweetwater Clifton and Chuck Cooper played their first games.

"The State family mourns the loss of a fellow Yellow Jacket and trailblazer who was a true champion both on and off of the basketball court," West Virginia State President Brian Hemphill said in a statement. "When Earl stepped out on the court on that fateful date in 1950, this remarkable man rightfully earned his place in the historic civil rights movement and, more important, he opened the door to equality in America."

Lloyd helped the Syracuse Nationals win the 1955 NBA title, joining teammate Jim Tucker as the first black players to play on a championship team.

The 6-foot-5 forward averaged 8.4 points and 6.4 rebounds in 560 regular-season games in nine seasons with Washington, Syracuse and Detroit. He missed the 1951-52 season while serving in the U.S. Army.

Inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame in 2003 as a contributor, Lloyd was 22-55 as Detroit's coach in 1971-72 and the first nine games in the 1972-73 season.

Lloyd, a native of Alexandria, Virginia, lived in Crossville, Tennessee. 

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Eagles Acho Taking Va. Teen to Prom]]> Mon, 02 Mar 2015 10:52:11 -0600 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/228*120/2015-02-26_1345.png

A Loudoun County, Virginia, teen got the surprise of a lifetime Friday when Philadelphia Eagles linebacker Emmanuel Acho agreed to take her to prom.

Back in January, Hannah Delmonte reached out to Acho on Instagram and asked if he would take her to prom if she got 2,000 retweets on Twitter, Comcast SportsNet Philly reports. But Acho upped the ante -- Delmonte had to reach 10,000 retweets.

And she did.

Delmonte's post received over 17,000 retweets, far surpassing her goal.

Acho dropped by Woodgrove High School in Purcellville on Friday and surprised Delmonte with a customized Eagles jersey with the number 15 and the word "prom" written across the back.

Acho also plans to play piano and sing Delmonte a song on the night of the prom, according to Comcast SportsNet Philly. Prom is scheduled for May 9, according to the school's calendar.

Check out her priceless reaction in the video above.

Photo Credit: Comcast SportsNet Philly
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<![CDATA[Kane Undergoes Surgery on Fractured Clavicle]]> Wed, 25 Feb 2015 17:46:11 -0600 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/171*120/GettyImages_464336414.jpg

The Chicago Blackhawks already knew they were going to be without winger Patrick Kane for the forseeable future, but the team revealed a more definitive timeline on Wednesday when he underwent successful surgery for a fractured clavicle. 

The team said that Kane will recover fully within 12 weeks, meaning that he is done for at least the remainder of the regular season, and likely for a good chunk of the postseason as well. 

The injury occurred during a Tuesday win against the Florida Panthers. Kane crashed awkwardly into the boards after taking a cross-check to the lower back from Panthers defenseman Alex Petrovic, and he immediately left the ice surface in serious pain.

The team recalled forward Teuvo Teravainen from the Rockford IceHogs. The Hawks also assigned defenseman Trevor van Riemsdyk to the IceHogs on a conditioning assignment, meaning that he's nearing a return to Chicago's lineup.

Stay tuned to NBC Chicago for more updates. 

<![CDATA[Sekera Dealt to Kings, Hurting Hawks' Blue Line Pursuit]]> Wed, 25 Feb 2015 17:07:38 -0600 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/179*120/GettyImages_462989538.jpg

The Chicago Blackhawks have been in the market for a defenseman in recent weeks as the NHL trade deadline approaches, but a player who was potentially their biggest target is now off the board as Andrej Sekera has been traded to the Los Angeles Kings.

Sekera, who was an alternate captain for the Carolina Hurricanes, was a highly-sought after rental player, with the Blackhawks and Kings both in hot pursuit of his services.

The Kings ultimately won out, sending a first round draft pick (it goes to Carolina this year if the Kings make the postseason, and next year if they don’t), and prospect Roland McKeown to Raleigh in exchange for Sekera.

The Blackhawks have been looking for blue line help with the recent struggles of Johnny Oduya (who is currently dealing with an injury and out of the Hawks’ lineup) and Michal Rozsival, and losing out on Sekera is a tough pill to swallow for the team.

Getting Trevor van Riemsdyk back will be nice, but adding a veteran piece as a short-term rental would have really bolstered the team’s defensive corps.

There are still a couple of defensemen available on the market that could be on the Hawks’ wish list.

Scott Hannan’s name has been one of the main names mentioned, and others like Jeff Petry could also be on Chicago’s radar.

<![CDATA[Kane Injury Could Leave Blackhawks Looking for Trade]]> Wed, 25 Feb 2015 15:41:15 -0600 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/170*120/GettyImages_464336458.jpg

The Chicago Blackhawks are heading toward next week’s NHL trade deadline with some needs to fill on the defensive side of things, but their priority list got a bit of a shake-up on Tuesday night as Patrick Kane was injured in their victory over the Florida Panthers.

With rumors swirling about how long Kane will actually be out for the Hawks—the current consensus seems to be a timetable of six to 10 weeks with a broken collarbone, but nothing has been confirmed by the team—the question of whether or not the team will add a piece before the deadline becomes even more pressing.

There was talk of general manager Stan Bowman making a move prior to March 2 to acquire defensive help, with names like Andrej Sekera popping up on the radar, but with Kane’s injury, forwards could become targets for the Hawks as well

Unfortunately for the Hawks, there is one thing that is going to complicate their efforts to acquire help: salary cap space.

The team doesn’t have much of it as it is, and although putting Kane on long-term injured reserve would allow them to make a substantial move, it would undoubtedly be a limited time rental.

With Brandon Saad due for a contract extension next season, and new deals kicking in for Kane and Jonathan Toews, the Blackhawks have absolutely no wiggle room next season for new salary. So any player acquired now would have to be either moved or allowed to become a free agent by July 1.

With those limitations in mind, there are still players that could end up on Chicago’s radar should they choose to pursue a forward on the trade market.

One name that keeps popping up is Arizona Coyotes center Antoine Vermette, and with good reason. His scoring numbers aren’t exactly off the charts, with 13 goals and 22 assists in 61 games for the Coyotes, but his penchant for winning face-offs and his defensive skill are both qualities that the Blackhawks could use, and it would allow the team flexibility to move a guy like Andrew Shaw back out to wing.

Another possible rental player for the Blackhawks could be veteran winger Jaromir Jagr. A free agent at season’s end, Jagr is rumored to want out of New Jersey as the Devils continue to struggle this season, and adding a goal scorer of his skill level could be a huge boost to the Hawks’ offense as they gear up for a playoff run.

There are other players who could be on the Hawks’ radar, including Chris Stewart, but the Hawks could also choose to go forward with in-house decisions. They’ve got plenty of depth at forward in their prospect chain, and guys like Teuvo Teravainen and Mark McNeill could get chances to crack the lineup consistently with Kane out.

<![CDATA[2-Year-Old Son of NFL Long Snapper Sings National Anthem]]> Thu, 26 Feb 2015 04:48:08 -0600 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/180*120/AP828165311104.jpg

Forget football! The 2-year-old son of Cincinnati Bengals' long snapper showed he is ready for the stage when he belted out the National Anthem at a high school basketball game.

The NFL player, Clark Harris, held son Trent's hand as he led him to the court for the tot's performance.

Decked out in a blazer and with hair reminiscent of his father's mane, Trent sang in front of a packed gym ahead of a matchup between the Southern Regional High School and Pinelands Regional High School boys' basketball teams.

Clark's wife and proud mom, Jessica, posted Trent's rendition to YouTube, captioning the video: "My sons first performance!! ... I'm so proud!!!" 

Watch the full video below.

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<![CDATA[Kane on Long-Term Injured Reserve]]> Wed, 25 Feb 2015 12:27:24 -0600 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/464336414.jpg

The Chicago Blackhawks are remaining mum on a timetable for the upper body injury suffered by Patrick Kane on Tuesday night, but they have made a roster move to replace him as they placed him on long-term injured reserve Wednesday afternoon. 

In a corresponding move, the team recalled forward Teuvo Teravainen from the Rockford IceHogs. The Hawks also assigned defenseman Trevor van Riemsdyk to the IceHogs on a conditioning assignment, meaning that he's nearing a return to Chicago's lineup. 

As for Kane, the LTIR-designation means that he has to miss a minimum of 10 games and 24 days of ice time. It also means that the Blackhawks have some salary cap space to play with as they search for help at the NHL trade deadline, which will come on March 2. 

The injury (which several outlets have reported as a broken collarbone that will cost him between six and 10 weeks, but no confirmation has come from the team) occurred during a Tuesday win against the Florida Panthers. Kane crashed awkwardly into the boards after taking a cross-check to the lower back from Panthers defenseman Alex Petrovic, and he immediately left the ice surface in serious pain. 

Photo Credit: Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Kane vs. Rose: Which Injury Hurts Title Chances More?]]> Wed, 25 Feb 2015 11:46:28 -0600 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/AP908342323712.jpg

With a winter that feels like it will never end and the sour taste of an awful Chicago Bears season still fresh in their mouths, Chicago sports fans seemed to have something to look forward to over the next couple of months: watching the Chicago Blackhawks and Chicago Bulls compete for titles in their respective sports.

On Tuesday night, a nightmare scenario unfolded as both teams suffered catastrophic injuries that threatened to derail their seasons. First came the gut punch as Patrick Kane left the Blackhawks’ game against the Florida Panthers with an upper body injury. Then, as the collective Chicago sports public bent down, fate delivered an upper cut to their chin as Derrick Rose was diagnosed with a torn meniscus by the Bulls.

Neither player has been conclusively ruled out for the season, with the cone of silence that NHL teams surround themselves with and the inexact science of determining the extent of knee injuries without surgery both playing a role in that. Nonetheless, it seems clear that both Kane and Rose will be out for a long stretch of time, and that got us to thinking: just how doomed are both teams as the playoffs near?

Starting with the Blackhawks, it seems that they can sustain without Kane in the lineup, but it’s highly unlikely they can win a championship without a healthy Kane. Yes hockey is a team sport, and yes they could make a roster move to bring aboard a rental player (although Stan Bowman has been very cautious in the past about sacrificing future assets for short-term gains), but unless Teuvo Teravainen comes in and is able to make an immediate impact as a top-six forward, the Blackhawks would be lucky to win a playoff series or two without Kane around.

As for the Bulls, they were facing an uphill battle anyway even with a healthy Rose, as Washington’s big-bodied forwards and Cleveland’s LeBron James threatened to end any playoff run. With Rose gone, the Bulls do have a couple of decent options at point guard with Aaron Brooks and E’Twaun Moore in the mix, but with Kirk Hinrich’s repeated injury issues and the fact that Doug McDermott has been unable to crack their rotation consistently, the Bulls seem to be a team with some really solid weapons but a mix that’s unable to get the job done come playoff time.

If one had to pick a team that is better suited to winning a title without their primary player, it’s hard not to lean toward the Blackhawks in that debate. With players like Jonathan Toews and Marian Hossa, the team has plenty of offensive firepower to get the job done, and what little cap flexibility they have could be used to add some help on the defensive side of the ice. Add Corey Crawford into the mix (assuming he’s rested enough when the playoffs begin, and that is possible if Joel Quenneville continues to utilize Scott Darling effectively), and there seems to be more of a path for them to win without their leading scorer.

Despite all this title talk, the collective sting and shock of these injuries will be tough to get over for Chicago sports fans. Seeing players like Rose, who has gone through so much in his recovery from his previous two knee injuries, and Kane, who missed a chunk of last season with an injury and was looking like he’d become the first ever American-born player to win the NHL’s Art Ross Trophy, go down with injuries is a shock to the system, and it serves as a painful reminder that nothing can be taken for granted when an athlete steps onto the field of play.

Now, in the words of Laurence Holmes, can someone do us all a favor and get some bubblewrap for Jose Abreu and Anthony Rizzo please?

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[NFL Stadium Proposals ]]> Wed, 25 Feb 2015 13:41:02 -0600 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/carson-stadium.gif

Ever since the Rams and the Raiders left Los Angeles in the mid-1990s, there have been attempts to bring an NFL team back to the city.

The football league approved an expansion franchise for Los Angeles as early as 1999, but no agreement was reached and a team went to Houston. The NFL requires a three-quarters vote of the 32 teams for any team to move.

There are now four proposals on the table. Here they are:

Oakland Raiders and San Diego Chargers to Share a Stadium

The Oakland Raiders and San Diego Chargers have announced that they will together pursue a new home at a $1.7 billion stadium in Carson, in Los Angeles County,  but only if both teams cannot find alternatives in their home markets. The stadium, which would require voter approval, would have more than 72,000 seats and with 18,000 parking spots, room for tailgating. It would be built on the site of an old municipal landfill at the intersection of the 405 Freeway and Del Amo Boulevard. Right now, the Jets and the Giants are the only NFL teams to share a stadium.

Meanwhile negotiations over a new stadium for the Raiders in the Bay area could be facing a 30-day deadline, according to a report in the San Francisco Chronicle. Oakland Mayor Libby Scaaf has said she would be wiling to spend taxpayer money to help pay for a new stadium, which could total up to $300 million, according to columnists Phil Matier and Andy Ross. But issues over using public money could be insurmountable, they report.

Replacing Hollywood Park Racetrack

Stan Kroenke, the owner of the St. Louis Rams, wants to build a new $2 billion stadium on the site of the now closed Hollywood Park racetrack in Inglewood, California. The proposal is for an 80,000-seat stadium, 6,000-seat performance venue, 300-room hotel, and 1.5 million square feet of retail, office and residential space.

The developer, not the public, would pay for the cost of building the stadium, according to a consultants' report.

The Inglewood City Council unanimously approved the plan on Feb. 24.

Kroenke has partnered with Stockbridge Capital Group and is the first NFL team owner to control a site large enough for a new stadium. The Rams are playing at the Edward Jones Dome in St. Louis, but are unhappy with the conditions. The Inglewood proposal will put pressure on St Louis to reach a deal for a new stadium or watch the team return to Southern California, where it played from 1946 to 1994.

Farmers Field

The Anschutz Entertainment Group or AEG agreed in 2012 to build a football stadium at the L.A. LIVE complex downtown and renovate the Los Angeles Convention Center. In October, the city granted AEG a six-month extension. AEG plans to commit $600,000 to development, but it is also offering alternatives to a stadium, meaning a large hotel might be built in its place.
Grand Crossing

Developer Ed Roski Jr., the president of Majestic Realty Co., in 2008 announced plans to build an $800 million stadium in the city of Industry near the interchange of the 60 and 57 freeways. The project is being called Grand Crossing.

<![CDATA[Derrick Rose Tears Meniscus in Right Knee]]> Wed, 25 Feb 2015 07:49:40 -0600 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/180*120/460810802.jpg

Derrick Rose's knee has failed him again.

The Chicago Bulls star will have surgery on his right knee for the second straight season, casting doubt on whether the once dynamic point guard will ever be the same after a series of injuries.

The team announced Tuesday night that Rose was feeling pain in his knee, and an exam and MRI confirmed a medial meniscus tear.

The 2011 NBA MVP played in only 10 games last season before he had surgery for the same injury in November 2013, shelving him for the year, but the Bulls said a timetable for his return will be determined after the operation.

It's unclear when Rose re-injured the knee. He appeared to be rounding into form last month, averaging 22.6 points over his final 14 games before the All-Star break, but he had struggled since returning to the court after the time off.

Rose became the latest NBA star to be sidelined for a significant period within the past few days.

Chris Bosh will miss the rest of the season after the Miami Heat announced blood clots were found on one of his lungs. Knicks forward Carmelo Anthony (left knee surgery) won't return this season, either.

Thunder star Kevin Durant had surgery on his right foot, and Pelicans big man Anthony Davis has a sprained right shoulder. Both are expected back this season.

Rose's status remains to be seen.

Rose had eight points on 1-for-13 shooting while playing almost 33 minutes in Monday night's 87-71 victory over Milwaukee. He averaged 10.7 points on 23.5 percent shooting in Chicago's first three games after the break.

It's a big blow for the surging Bulls (36-21), who have won six of seven and appeared to be picking up steam after a tough stretch. They lead the Central Division by a half-game over Cleveland, but any extended absence for Rose will make it quite difficult for Chicago to hold off LeBron James and the Cavaliers.

"Man feel bad for D.Rose! Keep your head up homie and stay strong G!" James tweeted after the injury was announced.

James was one of several NBA stars who took to social media to express their support for Rose, who has been dogged by injuries since he won the MVP award. All-Star teammate Jimmy Butler posted a picture of him and Rose with the message: "my point guard. my brother."

Rose was limited to 39 games during the 2011-12 season, and tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee in Game 1 of the 2012 playoffs against Philadelphia. He missed the next season altogether, and then last season was cut short by the right knee surgery.

Rose, 26, is averaging 18.4 points and 5.0 assists in 46 games this season. He has flashed his MVP form at times, attacking the rim, but his outside shot has been unreliable. He is shooting just 40.7 percent, the second-lowest average of his career, and is committing 3.2 turnovers per game.

The Bulls have shuffled players in and out of the lineup because of various ailments and have struggled to develop continuity after making some big moves last summer.

They signed All-Star Pau Gasol, giving them a big scoring presence inside, and with Rose back after missing most of the past two years, the Bulls came in looking to contend for a championship.

Now they wait to see how long Rose will be out with this injury.

Photo Credit: Getty Images
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<![CDATA[Boston Olympics Criticism OK: Mayor]]> Tue, 24 Feb 2015 16:02:07 -0600 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/214*120/Walsh+Olympics.jpg

It's now OK for city workers to criticize Boston's bid for the 2024 Olympics, thanks to a change to the city's deal with the U.S. Olympic Committee.

Mayor Marty Walsh announced the change Tuesday, saying that the agreement with the USOC had been revised to remove any language discouraging city employees from criticizing the Olympic bid. Walsh had earlier defended the stipulation, which civil liberties advocates had criticized.

The Boston Globe reported last month that the "joinder agreement" between the city and the USOC banned city employees from badmouthing the 2024 Olympic bid. The American Civil Liberties Union of Massachusetts said the agreement was a violation of the First Amendment right to free speech.

"This revised agreement is the result of positive negotiations with the United States Olympic Committee to reach a consensus that accurately represents how Boston is moving forward with our Olympic bid," Walsh said in a statement.

"I want to thank those who have already offered their thoughts on Boston's bid and I continue to encourage all residents, including city employees, to share their opinions over the coming months. My top priority is to ensure an open and transparent process, and it is important that any proposal is shaped by the input and ideas of people from every neighborhood in order to offer the greatest benefit to our city," Walsh continued.

Walsh's statement characterized the original ban on employee criticism of the Olympic bid as "boilerplate language that all cities have historically signed regarding city employees and their participation in the Olympic process."

Rich Davey, Boston 2024's CEO, said the new agreement "will strengthen Boston's efforts to work with communities to build a stronger Olympic bid."

The next citywide Olympic discussion is scheduled for Tuesday night at 6:30 at the Condon School Cafeteria in South Boston. 

Additional citywide meetings are scheduled for March 31, April 28, May 19, June 30, July 28, Aug. 25 and Sept. 29.

Photo Credit: FILE - NECN]]>
<![CDATA[Top Sports Photos 2015]]> Fri, 27 Feb 2015 10:30:50 -0600 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/AP504914195557.jpg Click to see dramatic sports photos from the NFL, to basketball, baseball and more.]]> <![CDATA[Former Hawk Nick Leddy Signs Big Deal With Islanders]]> Tue, 24 Feb 2015 14:46:38 -0600 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/463902008.jpg

Before the 2014-15 season began, the Chicago Blackhawks had a tough decision to make. With the team over the NHL’s salary cap, they were forced to jettison a player via trade and they chose to send defenseman Nick Leddy to the New York Islanders.

The return for the defenseman was solid, including prospect defenseman TJ Brennan (who made the AHL All-Star Game for the Rockford IceHogs this season), but to say that Leddy has thrived in New York would be an understatement. He currently leads the league in USAT (a statistic that measures the number of unblocked shot attempts taken by a team vs. the number taken against them while a player is on the ice) and is currently ranked third in the league in SAT (the same statistic, except with blocked shots added in), trailing Duncan Keith and Drew Doughty.

With that type of dominant performance in puck possession, it isn’t surprising that the Islanders locked him up to a long-term deal Tuesday, signing the 23-year old to a seven-year contract worth just over $38 million.

Especially in light of the Blackhawks’ recent defensive struggles, there are plenty of fans ruefully recalling the day that Leddy was traded to the Islanders. When the trade went down, we described it this way:

“Johnny Oduya and Michal Rozsival were also on the block, but the young Leddy best combined cap relief and quality return for Chicago……The Hawks’ depth of proven NHL players does take a hit with this trade, and it will put more pressure on the team’s top two pairings.”

Considering how quickly Oduya and Rozsival have gone downhill this season, and with the injury to Trevor van Riemsdyk robbing him of about half a season worth of play, the Leddy trade certainly lived up to both of those statements. He was never a favorite of Joel Quenneville (his benching during the 2013 Stanley Cup run was particularly telling), but another team saw the chance to add a puck-moving, fast-skating defenseman to their blue line, and they’re laughing all the way to the bank as they cruise to a high playoff seed and status as a legitimate Stanley Cup contender.

That being said, those weeping and gnashing their teeth over losing Leddy are dismissing the first part of our prognostication too quickly. Yes, the Blackhawks could use Nick Leddy right now, but there were plenty of other factors at work. What kind of a return would they have gotten for a guy like Oduya or Rozsival? Draft picks, perhaps. Middling prospects, maybe. There’s no way they would’ve gotten a player with the kind of upside that Brennan has, and there’s no way they would’ve been able to afford around $5.5 million per season for a new contract for Leddy next year with the cap crisis they’re already potentially facing.

With the team's struggles on the blue line this year, some fans may look at this as a careless misstep by Stan Bowman now, but at the time and with future considerations in mind, it was still the right move.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Cubs Hire Ramirez, Youkilis as Consultants ]]> Tue, 24 Feb 2015 12:33:44 -0600 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/youkilis-grand-slam.jpg

Chicago Cubs President Theo Epstein has never been shy about bringing players and coaches from his tenure with the Boston Red Sox to the north side, and on Tuesday he continued that trend as the Cubs announced they’d hired Manny Ramirez and Kevin Youkilis as consultants.

According to the team, Ramirez will serve as a hitting consultant in the organization, and Youkilis will perform scouting duties and will be involved in player development.

The Cubs also announced that they had formed a new mental skills program, helmed by sports psychologist Dr. Ken Ravizza. According to the team, Ravizza has worked with manager Joe Maddon since the 1980’s, and he has also worked with several other teams throughout the sports world, including the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, the Los Angeles Dodgers, and the New York Jets.

The hire of Ramirez by the Cubs doesn’t come as much of a surprise, considering that the team hired him last year to essentially serve as a mentor for Javier Baez with the team’s triple-A affiliate in Des Moines. Ramirez also appeared in 24 games for the Iowa Cubs, hitting three home runs and driving in 10 RBI while hitting just .222 with the team.

Even with his struggles there, Ramirez still has not officially retired from baseball, but with moves like this, it wouldn’t be shocking to see that happen at some point in the near future.

As for Youkilis, he will focus his scouting efforts on northern California, according to the Cubs. In his playing career, which ended in 2013, Youkilis hit 150 home runs and racked up an impressive .382 on-base percentage thanks to his keen eye at the plate. With the Cubs featuring a slew of young sluggers who prefer to swing for the fences to taking pitches and working counts, Youkilis could be a smart addition as a consultant to work with those players.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Report: Blackhawks Ticket Prices Continue Their Rise]]> Mon, 23 Feb 2015 14:13:17 -0600 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/180*120/495200257.jpg

The Chicago Blackhawks may be struggling on home ice recently, but according to new data, fans are still paying really high prices to see them at the United Center this season.

Crain’s Chicago Business, using data from the website SeatGeek, is reporting that the Blackhawks’ average ticket price on the resale market has risen more this season than any other team in the NHL, and that their prices are now the second-highest overall in the league. Here are the numbers:

1. Toronto Maple Leafs: $189
2. Chicago Blackhawks: $176
3. New York Rangers: $156
4. Montreal Canadiens: $144
5. Boston Bruins: $126

With the games remaining on the team’s schedule this season, there’s no reason to suspect that ticket prices will go down any time soon. There are some duds on the docket, with games against the Edmonton Oilers and Florida Panthers still looming, but there are some big time draws as well, with the St. Louis Blues, Los Angeles Kings, and New York Rangers all still coming through the United Center in the final weeks of the regular season.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Bulls Hit Boards to Beat Bucks 87-71]]> Mon, 23 Feb 2015 22:04:10 -0600 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/180*120/460810802.jpg

Tony Snell scored 20 points, Nikola Mirotic had 16 points and a career-high 14 rebounds, and the surging Chicago Bulls pounded the Milwaukee Bucks on the boards on their way to an 87-71 victory on Monday night.

Pau Gasol added 15 points and 10 rebounds as the Bulls enjoyed a whopping 62-41 advantage on the glass. Joakim Noah had eight points and 16 rebounds on his bobblehead night, and Jimmy Butler finished with 11 points and nine boards.

Milwaukee shot 34 percent (30 for 89) from the field in its second straight loss after a stretch of nine wins in 10 games. Ersan Ilyasova had 15 points and 11 rebounds in his first start since Jan. 27 at Miami.

Chicago played without key reserves Taj Gibson and Kirk Hinrich, who were away from the team due to an illness. But Snell and Mirotic each provided a big boost off the bench.

The Bulls grabbed control in the first half and led by double digits for most of the final three quarters. Butler had an impressive rebound dunk off a miss by Aaron Brooks, and Mirotic made two foul shots to make it 75-56 with 6:29 left.

Chicago won for the sixth time in its last seven games despite an awful performance for point guard Derrick Rose, who had eight points on 1-for-13 shooting.

The Bucks have dropped two of three since they shipped leading scorer Brandon Knight to Phoenix in a three-team trade on Thursday. Milwaukee got Michael Carter-Williams from Philadelphia in the deadline deal, but the point guard has been sidelined by a right foot strain.

"We have to get him on the floor, he's been out," coach Jason Kidd said before the game. "Once we get him on the floor we'll kind of restart and get everyone comfortable playing with him. Hopefully that will be soon."

Asked specifically when Carter-Williams would be back, Kidd responded: "We'll see." In the meantime, Jerryd Bayless had eight points, eight rebounds and five assists in his third consecutive start at the point, but the Bucks looked like a team in transition while playing without Knight and Carter-Williams.

Led by Mirotic and Snell, the Bulls grabbed control in the second quarter. Mirotic hit a fadeaway jumper and a 3-pointer in a 13-2 run that made it 34-17 with 6:13 left.

Snell scored 13 of his 18 first-half points in the second, helping Chicago to a 48-33 lead at the break. Mirotic had six points and 10 rebounds at halftime.


Bucks: Kidd said the Bucks try to schedule Jabari Parker's treatment and rehab around practice and shootarounds so the former Chicago prep star can stay around the team. Parker is out for the season after injuring his left knee on Dec. 15. "He looks great," Kidd said. "All the texts and the emails that we got on his rehab (indicates) that it is going really well." ... The Bucks dropped to 15-14 on the road. The last time they finished with a winning road record was a 21-20 mark for the 2000-01 season.

Bulls: Chicago improved to 3-0 against Milwaukee this season and has won six straight against the Bucks dating to last season. ... Gasol was frequently double-teamed in his first game against Milwaukee since he scored a career-high 46 points in Chicago's 95-87 victory on Jan. 10.


Bucks: Host Philadelphia on Wednesday night.

Bulls: Host Charlotte on Wednesday night.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Opinion: It's Time for Bears to Move On From Tillman, Briggs]]> Mon, 23 Feb 2015 13:24:00 -0600 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/189*120/453619824.jpg

The Chicago Bears got a glimpse into their future over the weekend at the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis, but the team is still facing a lot of questions about their present as they prepare to move forward under John Fox and Ryan Pace.

One of the biggest questions they’ll face this offseason is the future status of cornerback Charles Tillman and linebacker Lance Briggs. Two of the biggest holdovers from the previous regime (okay, technically two regimes ago, with Jerry Angelo and Lovie Smith), both players will be unrestricted free agents in March, and while a reunion isn’t out of the question, there is significant doubt that they’ll be back.

"Anytime you come into an organization and there's been guys like Charles Tillman and Lance Briggs, (and) they’ve been great Bears," Fox said last week. "They’ve accomplished a lot, done a lot for our organization and football team, as well as our city. So, going forward, sometimes you just have to evaluate them. I would like to preface it by saying they’ve been great Bears and they have our ownership’s and our organization’s deepest respect."

Those words sound like a farewell statement, and Pace didn’t make things sound any more positive about a potential contract for either guy.

"We’ve talked to those guys. They’re great Chicago Bears, and again we’re going through that (process) just like all the other guys," he said. "It’s a slow process but we recognize great Chicago Bears and that’s going to be a big decision for us."

When taking Pace and Fox’s words into account, as well as Tillman’s statements about wanting to compete for a Super Bowl next year and Briggs’ long and checkered history in dealing with the organization, it would seem that the team will be moving on from both players, and at this point, it would be the right move for all parties involved to see both guys wearing different uniforms next year.

Yes, both players still can be solid assets for a team, but this process isn’t going to be about winning games in 2015. This rebuilding process that Pace has been brought aboard to direct will be about winning games in the future. Guys like Tillman and Briggs aren’t going to be around for the long haul, and keeping them around for what would mostly be sentimental reasons is a waste of money and roster spaces that could be used on developing new players.

Both players will undoubtedly get a slew of offers once the free agency window opens, and that’s well-deserved on both accounts. Tillman especially could be great for a team looking for that one final cornerback to push their defense over the top (could he end up on New England’s radar if they release Darrelle Revis?), and Briggs’ on-field ability and toughness could appeal to a younger defense in need of some leadership.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Oduya Out a Few Weeks, Darling to Start Tuesday]]> Mon, 23 Feb 2015 12:39:48 -0600 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/180*120/458233172.jpg

The Chicago Blackhawks already knew that they were going to be without defenseman Johnny Oduya for the near future, but head coach Joel Quenneville elaborated on the time frame Monday, saying the blue liner will miss "a couple of weeks" with the injury.

Oduya’s injury occurred during the first period of Sunday’s loss to the Boston Bruins, and the team was forced to play with only five defensemen for the rest of the way. With him out of the lineup, the team will likely turn to either David Rundblad or Kyle Cumiskey in the interim, but more help could be on the way as Trevor van Riemsdyk skates toward recovery.

The rookie defenseman participated in the team’s practice on Monday morning, and Quenneville said that he’s "close" to returning after missing an extended period of time with a knee injury. The team participated in various demanding drills on Monday, including board battles and netfront scrambles, and van Riemsdyk was in the middle of all of it, suggesting that the team is aggressively testing the knee to make sure everything is healing properly.

The Blackhawks also made a bit of news on Sunday night when they announced a two-year contract extension for Scott Darling, and the goaltender will also get the start in Tuesday’s tilt against the Florida Panthers, per Quenneville.

Quenneville also said that the team is still fully committed to Corey Crawford as their starter, and he said that Antti Raanta still has a role and a place on the team.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Madhouse Enforcer's Blackhawks Panic Meter ]]> Mon, 23 Feb 2015 12:00:33 -0600 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/198*120/464152934.jpg

After a weekend that saw the Chicago Blackhawks lose two games in embarrassing fashion, the team will look to pick up the pieces in a home-and-home series against the Florida Panthers.

Before they take the ice however, we decided it was time to take stock of where they find themselves at this point in the season. To do so, we’ve busted out one of our favorite tools (read: editorial devices): the Blackhawks Panic Meter.

Offense: 5/10

The Blackhawks’ offense looked particularly bad this weekend as Joel Quenneville experimented with a slew of different line combinations, but they’ve been struggling for longer than that. Over their past 11 games, they’ve scored three or more goals just three times, and they’ve been held to one goal or less on four times in that span.

Despite those struggles to score, we’re not quite ready to go into panic mode on the offensive side of things. The team is still leading the league in shots per game, racking up 34.8 of them per contest, but their shooting percentage of 8.23 percent is 25th in the NHL.

The quality of shots has to improve for Chicago, but it’s still a matter of some luck that they aren’t scoring more often.

Defense: 8/10

If you want an area to panic about, this is it. The Blackhawks have long prided themselves on being a team that suppresses shots and makes the ones that do get through low percentage, easily savable ones, and neither of those strategies seems to be working right now. The Hawks are allowing 29.6 shots per game so far this season, which puts them in 17th place in the NHL in the category.

Add to that the continued struggles of some of the team’s veterans, including Johnny Oduya and Michal Rozsival, and it’s not hard to see why the Hawks are giving up as many goals as they are due to poor execution on the blue line.

Goaltending: 5/10

Once again, this area has a few select concerns, but overall isn’t as big a problem as some are claiming. Corey Crawford had a rough weekend for the Hawks as he gave up eight goals in two games, but with the types of defensive breakdowns that are happening in front of him, it frankly wasn’t surprising that he had those kinds of stat-sapping efforts in crease.

If Hawks fans have to worry about anything with their goaltenders, it’s whether or not Crawford is getting an appropriate amount of rest. He has been allowing some soft goals lately, but he’s still been one of the main reasons this team’s struggles haven’t resulted in more lost points in the standings. Getting him a game or two off every so often, especially with the playoffs coming up in April, would be a smart move by the Hawks to keep their $6 million man fresh.

Overall: 6/10

The Blackhawks are at a crossroads right now. It isn’t time for full blown panic, but the team has gotten past the “it’s just one game” point and are now at the “this is a legitimate problem” point. Their defensive struggles continue to get worse, and even though Trevor van Riemsdyk is drawing ever closer to returning to their lineup, just inserting him back onto the blue line isn’t going to be enough.

This team needs a shot in the arm. This team needs something to kick start them. What that something is can be debated endlessly, but whether by trade or by roster move, the Blackhawks need a direction change, but not a full-blown tear down.

<![CDATA[Blackhawks Sign Darling to Contract Extension]]> Sun, 22 Feb 2015 21:23:53 -0600 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/180*120/456093968.jpg

Shortly after the Chicago Blackhawks recalled goaltender Scott Darling from the Rockford IceHogs, they announced that they had signed the goaltender to a two-year contract extension. 

The deal means that the Lemont-native will be with the Blackhawks through the 2016-17 season. In seven appearances with the Blackhawks this season, Darling has a 5-2-0 record with a .937 save percentage and a 1.97 goals against average, and although Antti Raanta was widely assumed to be the team's back-up this season, Darling pushed him the whole way. 

Darling has played in 26 games with the IceHogs this season, going 14-8-2 and allowing 2.2 goals per contest. 

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Blackhawks Recall Darling, Nordstrom]]> Sun, 22 Feb 2015 20:31:17 -0600 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/180*120/456093968.jpg

After Sunday’s debacle against the Boston Bruins, the Chicago Blackhawks made a couple of roster moves, bringing up forward Joakim Nordstrom and goaltender Scott Darling from the Rockford IceHogs.

To clear room on the roster for those two players, the team sent down forward Ryan Hartman and goaltender Antti Raanta.

Nordstrom has played in 24 games with the Blackhawks this season, picking up two assists and playing mostly fourth line minutes. He also has nine goals and seven assists in 23 games with the IceHogs, where he’s currently serving as the team’s captain.

As for Darling, he has played in seven games so far this season for the Blackhawks, putting up a 5-2-0 record, a 1.97 GAA, and a .937 save percentage. He has a 14-8-2 record with the IceHogs to go along with two shutouts.

The Blackhawks may have to make another move depending on how serious Johnny Oduya’s upper-body injury is, but they will have until Tuesday to do so, as they take on the Florida Panthers in the final game of their eight-game homestand.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Oduya Injured in Loss to Bruins ]]> Sun, 22 Feb 2015 18:16:30 -0600 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/180*120/458233172.jpg

The Chicago Blackhawks have been having a really tough time on defense in recent weeks, and things are about to get a bit more difficult for them as it appears Johnny Oduya will miss time with an upper body injury.

The injury, which occurred in the first period of Sunday’s loss to the Boston Bruins, was enough to knock him out of the remainder of the game, forcing the Blackhawks to play with five defensemen the rest of the way. As a result, Duncan Keith was forced to play over 27 minutes of ice time, and Michal Rozsival, David Rundblad and Brent Seabrook all played over 20 minutes in the game.

After the game, head coach Joel Quenneville said that Oduya would likely miss a couple of games with the injury.

The Blackhawks are currently carrying eight defensemen on their roster, with Tim Erixon and Kyle Cumiskey each still holding down spots before Trevor van Riemsdyk makes his return in the near future. It’s unclear who will take Oduya’s spot in the lineup, or what defensive pairings will look like in his absence, but whatever ends up happening, it’s one more issue for a group of blue liners that have been struggling to play effectively for Chicago.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Bruins Blast Blackhawks 6-2 ]]> Sun, 22 Feb 2015 18:06:13 -0600 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/463817333.jpg

The Boston Bruins had lost six games in a row, but that didn’t stop them from hanging six goals on the Chicago Blackhawks on Sunday afternoon by a score of 6-2.

Patrice Bergeron scored a goal and dished out two assists in the game, and Milan Lucic scored for the Bruins as part of a four-goal second period explosion. Jonathan Toews and Bryan Bickell scored goals for the Blackhawks in the losing effort.

The first period got off to a rip-roaring start for the Blackhawks as they surrendered a goal early thanks to a series of defensive blunders. Both Duncan Keith and Michal Rozsival missed on their defensive assignments, and Bergeron got inside position on the play as he skated into the crease and forced a shot past Corey Crawford to put the Bruins up 1-0.

The Blackhawks got a couple of scoring chances after that goal, but Tuukka Rask was there to make a couple of key saves. Two of them came against Patrick Kane, who rifled a one-timer on the rush and saw Rask stop it with a sprawling save. Kris Versteeg also got a short-handed breakaway, but Rask made another save as he slapped his leg pads together to block the shot.

With about seven minutes to go in the period, the Bruins scored again. This time it was Loui Eriksson doing the damage, deflecting a Torrey Krug shot in from the point past Crawford to make it a two-goal cushion for Boston.

The period ended with a couple of tough breaks for the Hawks, including Niklas Hjalmarsson taking a Zdeno Chara slapshot directly to his midsection. Fortunately, the Bruins felt charitable at the end of the frame, as a Rask penalty gave the Hawks a power play chance that they immediately converted on. Kane got the puck at the blue line and fired in a shot toward the far post, and Toews was able to deflect the shot in to make it a 2-1 game after the first period.

The second period saw the Blackhawks give the Bruins a batch of chances, and they started taking advantage after a couple of unsuccessful Chicago power plays. Milan Lucic got things started about six minutes in as he drove in past all five Blackhawks defenders and scored a short-range goal to make it a 3-1 game.

Just six minutes later, the Bruins scored again as Gregory Campbell fired a shot past Crawford, leading Joel Quenneville to yank his goaltender and put Antti Raanta in the game.

Unfortunately for the Blackhawks, the move didn’t do much to help things out, and the Bruins scored two more goals before the period ended. Dougie Hamilton got the first on a power play to make it a 5-1 game, and two and a half minutes later Reilly Smith scored another one to give Boston a five goal advantage after two periods of play.

The third period was a slow-paced one for both teams, with the Blackhawks getting a late goal from Bickell with about six minutes left to cut the deficit to four goals.

The Blackhawks will try to rebound from the loss when they welcome the Florida Panthers to the United Center on Tuesday night to wrap up their eight game homestand.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Blackhawks Look to Best Stumbling Bruins Sunday ]]> Sun, 22 Feb 2015 13:27:56 -0600 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/topsports-hockey-AP516216701308.jpg

The Chicago Blackhawks will make their contribution to Hockey Day in America on Sunday afternoon as they welcome the Boston Bruins to the United Center.

The Blackhawks have been playing quite a bit at home recently, but things haven’t necessarily been going smoothly for the team. They are currently 2-1-3 on their homestand with two games left to go, and they’ve suffered in multiple areas. Their scoring has been down in recent games, scoring only four goals in their last three games, and their power play is experiencing some ineffectiveness as well, having failed to score in their last nine attempts.

Despite their struggles, they are nothing compared to what the Bruins have been going through. Ever since the calendar flipped to February, the Bruins have been a different team, losing seven of their last eight games and losing a ton of ground in the Eastern Conference playoff race. Their power play has been atrocious, scoring only twice in their last 19 attempts, and they have allowed at least one power play goal in each of their last three games.

Despite the collective struggles of both teams, this game represents a big opportunity for both to gain ground in their respective races. The Blackhawks need to get on a bit of a roll if they’re going to have any shot at catching the Nashville Predators atop the Central, but catching the St. Louis Blues (who beat the Bruins by a 5-1 margin on Friday night) is definitely an achievable goal if they can string some wins together.

As for Boston, they are only one point ahead of the Florida Panthers for the second wild card spot in the Eastern Conference, and they are four points ahead of the Philadelphia Flyers. Getting an out-of-conference win against Chicago could provide a jump start to the struggling team.

If the Blackhawks are going to win, they are going to need some big performances out of multiple guys. Kris Versteeg has been on fire for the Hawks lately, scoring three goals in the team’s past four games, and he’ll need another big afternoon on Sunday to help spark the second line. Linemate Patrick Kane has been held without a point in the last three games (the first time this season he’s gone three games without a point), so he’ll need to step up as well.

Finally, the Blackhawks are going to need more production out of Patrick Sharp. Skating on the fourth line isn’t helping him out, but even still, opportunities on the power play still exist for the veteran winger, and he needs to take advantage of them in order for the Hawks to win.

Photo Credit: AP]]>