<![CDATA[NBC Chicago - Sports]]>Copyright 2017http://www.nbcchicago.com/news/sports http://media.nbcnewyork.com/designimages/5-Chicago-Blue.png NBC Chicago http://www.nbcchicago.comen-usTue, 27 Jun 2017 11:29:01 -0500Tue, 27 Jun 2017 11:29:01 -0500NBC Owned Television Stations <![CDATA[Baez Reveals Meaning Behind Tattoos Exposed in 'Body Issue']]> Tue, 27 Jun 2017 08:42:46 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/ESPN_Body_Baez_Cover.png

Javier Baez leaves little to the imagination in his "Body Issue" photoshoot for ESPN, but it appears the exposing images have more than one secret story behind them. 

The first is told through his ink, with more than a dozen tattoos covering Baez's body, each holding an important message. 

An MLB logo on his neck marked the first tattoo Baez had done. 

"I had that one at 16, along with my two brothers, Rolando and Gadiel," Baez told ESPN. "We did it as a sign of respect and love for the game."

Baez revealed to the publication that his mother didn't like tattoos much, so he had her name tattooed on his wrist, along with a rose, "so she would not be very upset." On his other wrist is a tribute to his father, whose nickname was Nene. 

On his shoulder is his most precious tattoo, one he had always wanted but had waited for the right artist to do -- a portrait of his sister Noely, who died of spina bifida at age 21. 

On his body, Baez has another tattoo of a nickname for his father, "El Guimo," marked next to the date the young baseball star was called up to the majors. He also has the names of his three siblings on his left side. 

Baseball-themed tattoos cover his skin along with tributes to his home of Puerto Rico. 

The young Cubs star bared (almost) all in the upcoming issue of the magazine, one of several covers slated to hit newsstands next month.

In addition to his tattoos, Baez's photos are also unique in that they were all shot on an iPhone. 

Photographer Dylan Coulter told USA Today the idea of shooting a major series and cover photo on an iPhone left him "mildly terrified," but quickly saw it as an exciting challenge. 

The ninth annual body issue is set to launch online July 5 and will be available in newsstands July 7.



Photo Credit: Dylan Coulter
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<![CDATA[Ex-MLB Player's Son on Life Support After Freak Baseball Accident]]> Tue, 27 Jun 2017 10:32:41 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/Keith-Lockhart-GettyImages-2145726.jpg

Former San Diego Padres and Atlanta Braves player Keith Lockhart and his family are asking for prayers for his 15-year-old son, who is on life support after being hit in the face by a baseball during a tournament last week, Today.com reported.

Doctors initially thought Jason Lockhart only needed some stitches after he was struck in the face by a throw from the catcher during a game in South Carolina on June 17, his family said.

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But the injury was much more serious. Two days later, the bleeding would not stop, and he was taken to an Atlanta hospital, where tests discovered a torn artery.

Doctors have been working to control the bleeding since.

His sister, Sydney, a has been providing regular updates on his condition on Facebook.

Jason was scheduled to have surgery on Monday at Children's Healthcare of Atlanta to replace the packing in his face and check for any areas of bleeding. But the surgery was postponed until Tuesday morning as doctors backed off medications and wanted to give his body time to adapt. 

"We are more at peace as we are getting closer to seeing his sweet eyes open, feeling his hand squeeze ours back, and help him heal and sort through what all he has been through this week," Sydney Lockhart wrote in an update on Tuesday. "Please continue to pray for Jason, and his healing both physically and emotionally." 

She added that five surgeries in nine days "is a lot for anybody" and thanked supporters on behalf of the family.

Keith Lockhart played for 10 seasons in Major League Baseball on teams including the Padres, Braves and Kansas City Royals before retiring in 2003. 



Photo Credit: Getty Images
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<![CDATA[Son of Ex-MLB Player on Life Support After Freak Accident]]> Mon, 26 Jun 2017 13:17:46 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/lockhartkid.jpg

Former Atlanta Braves player Keith Lockhart is asking for prayers for his 15-year-old son, who is on life support after being hit in the face by a baseball during a tournament last week, reports Today.com.

Doctors initially thought Jason Lockhart only needed some stitches after he was struck in the face by a throw from the catcher during a game in South Carolina on June 17, his family said.

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But the injury was much more serious. Two days later, the bleeding would not stop, and he was taken to an Atlanta hospital, where tests discovered a torn artery. Doctors have been working to control the bleeding.

His sister, Sydney, has been providing regular updates of his condition on Facebook, including one saying Jason was scheduled to have surgery on Monday at Children's Healthcare of Atlanta to replace the packing in his face and check for any areas of bleeding.



Photo Credit: Getty Images
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<![CDATA[Hjalmarsson Talks About Moment He Learned He Was Traded]]> Mon, 26 Jun 2017 11:28:24 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/GettyImages-477048728.jpg

Niklas Hjalmarsson has spent his entire professional career with the Chicago Blackhawks, but with one phone call, everything changed.

The former Hawks defenseman said he hadn't really been reading trade rumors online, but it didn't take long for him to realize his time in Chicago could soon come to an end. 

"When my agent called me about the 10-team list, I understood it was serious. Stan [Bowman] wouldn’t ask for that unless they made up their mind already,” Hjalmarsson said during a conference call Saturday, CSN reports. “That’s when it hit me that I’m probably not going to put the Hawks jersey on anymore.”

Before the NHL Entry Draft Friday, the Blackhawks made a massive splash as they traded Hjalmarsson to the Arizona Coyotes. 

A member of three Stanley Cup championship teams with the Blackhawks, Hjalmarsson scored 23 goals and dished out 120 assists as a member of the team, and his shot-blocking prowess and hard-nosed attitude endeared him to teammates and fans alike. 

“Niklas’ contributions to the three Stanley Cup championship teams are well known but his dependability as a teammate, selfless attitude and the way he represented the Chicago Blackhawks on and off the ice are what made him such a beloved member of the organization,” Chicago Blackhawks Senior Vice President and General Manager Stan Bowman said in a statment. “He made his debut in Chicago in 2008 and quietly established himself as one of the toughest competitors in franchise history. We wish he and his family continued success.”

In exchange, the Blackhawks received defenseman Connor Murphy and center Laurent Dauphin. 

Still, as Hjalmarsson heads for his new team, a lot of questions remain. 

That's because the Coyotes have already lost multiple players and their head coach. 

“They’re on a rebuild, a lot of new faces, lot of changes,” Hjalmarsson said. “It’s tough to know what to expect but I think they’re a hungry organization that wants to win like other teams. I’m looking forward to try to contribute with playing my game, just try to get the organization back in the playoffs.”

While he will see familiar faces in former Hawk Antti Raanta and his one-time Sochi teammate Oliver Ekman-Larsson, Hjalmarsson looked back on his time in Chicago fondly.

“I spent my whole 20s in Chicago, 10 unbelievable years," he said. I didn’t think I’d win three Cups. Hopefully I can get one more before my career is over. I had the best time in Chicago, enjoyed every single year, playing in front of the best fans in the league. I’ve been spoiled. Now it’s time for me and my family to move on and seize the opportunity in Arizona and create some new fond memories.”



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Varsity Hockey Could Return to University of Illinois]]> Sun, 25 Jun 2017 19:36:49 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/GettyImages-800194200.jpg

There is not currently a Division I hockey program in the state of Illinois, but thanks to the National Hockey League and the University of Illinois, that could potentially change.

In a press conference, the league announced that it would fund a feasibility study to determine whether or not ice hockey would become a varsity sport at the school in Champaign.

The university currently offers hockey as a club sport, but the school does not compete on the NCAA level in hockey despite several Big Ten schools, including Michigan, Wisconsin, and Penn State, doing so.

“The idea of varsity hockey at the University of Illinois has great appeal,” Illinois Athletic Director Josh Whitman said. “With hockey’s popularity in both Chicago and St. Louis, and rapidly growing youth participation across the state, we anticipate tremendous interest in the sport at our university.”

The NHL will partner up with the NHL Players’ Association and College Hockey Inc. to fund the study, which will be used to determine whether funding should be made available to convert the sport into a varsity athletics program at the school.

If Illinois were to join the NCAA in hockey, they would join a group of other schools that have made the jump in recent years, including Penn State and Arizona State.

The interest and excitement of the University of Illinois to be a part of the NHL’s Feasibility Study is a reflection of the extreme growth of youth hockey across our state,” Chicago Blackhawks President and CEO John McDonough said. “The Chicago Blackhawks are proud that such a prestigious institution has made a strong commitment to the development of our game at all levels.”

The feasibility study will be conducted at five different schools across the country, the NHL announced. Illinois did have varsity hockey as a sport prior to World War II, but the program was disbanded in 1943 and has not been brought back since, according to the school. 



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Which Former Chicago Athlete Will Be Missed Most?]]> Sun, 25 Jun 2017 18:37:38 -0500
Here, we list our candidates for that distinction. ]]>

Here, we list our candidates for that distinction. ]]>
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After trades sent away Jimmy Butler, Niklas Hjalmarsson, and Artemi Panarin in recent days, a question begs to be asked: which former Chicago athlete will be most missed by their team? ]]>
<![CDATA[Five Thoughts: Blackhawks' NHL Draft Performance]]> Sat, 24 Jun 2017 21:23:00 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/GettyImages-800226338.jpg

The Chicago Blackhawks wrapped up a busy NHL Draft weekend on Saturday as they finished selecting the nine new players that will join their stable of prospects in the coming years.

The Blackhawks didn’t make any big splashes once the draft actually began, but they created some fireworks beforehand as they traded away Niklas Hjalmarsson and Artemi Panarin in separate transactions.

So what did the Blackhawks do right, and what did they do wrong? To answer those questions, here are our Five Thoughts on how the NHL Draft shook out for the Blackhawks.

Biggest Success: Adding Young, Right-Handed Blue Liners

General Manager Stan Bowman went into the NHL Draft looking to add young, athletic players on his blue line, and he killed two birds with one stone as he also addressed another glaring need: right-handed defensemen.

He did that both in the Hjalmarsson trade, which netted the Blackhawks Connor Murphy, and he also did it in the draft, as he selected Henri Jokiharju and Ian Mitchell in the first two rounds of the draft.

Adding players that can pass the puck on the blue line, and that can also skate effectively through all three zones, was a critical success for the Blackhawks in this draft, and Bowman did a quality job of addressing a significant need.

Biggest Disappointment: Not Adding More Goaltending Depth

The Blackhawks likely acquired a player that will compete for their back-up goaltending job this season as they got Anton Forsberg from the Columbus Blue Jackets, but surprisingly the Blackhawks didn’t draft a single goaltender with any of their nine picks.

The team is dangerously thin at that position in their prospect ranks, with Jeff Glass really serving as the only other option besides Forsberg behind Corey Crawford. The Blackhawks do not have any dynamic goaltending prospects, and that is an area that they are going to absolutely need to address when they head into free agency and further into the offseason.

Biggest Question Mark: Andrei Altybarmakyan

Altybarmakyan has some good skill, as he showed off in the KHL All-Star Game earlier this year, but he also comes with some big questions, as he wasn’t ranked in the top 100 prospects by TSN, and he ranked only as the 28th best skater among Europeans in this year’s draft class, according to NHL central Scouting.

Even so, the Blackhawks were certainly okay in going off board, as there aren’t any surefire picks in the third round, but it was interesting to see them go so far off the beaten path to take a player that probably would have been available at number 90.

Most Underrated Pick: Evan Barratt

Speaking of the 90th pick, Barratt could be a player that Blackhawks fans will get to know over the next few years.

Barratt will be heading to Penn State, but his skillset certainly could translate to the NHL level, as he likes getting into tough areas to score greasy goals, and he has very smooth hands when he gets the puck near the front of the net.

The big knock on Barratt is that he isn’t the most athletic player in the game, but with his hard-nosed determination and two-way skill, that shouldn’t be a big deal. He could end up coming out of college if his development arc follows the right path, and it will be fascinating to watch him get stronger and learn more of the nuances of the game.

What’s Left to Do:

As the Blackhawks near free agency, they’ll have to get some clarity on the Marian Hossa salary cap situation, and they’ll also have to acquire more goaltending help, whether in the form of prospects or cheap veterans who can compete with Forsberg for the back-up job in Chicago.

The Blackhawks will also be looking for some veteran help on their blue line, as they’ll need to have some insurance in case of injury to Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook this season. 



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[David Accam Scores Awesome Goal vs. Orlando]]> Sat, 24 Jun 2017 20:22:42 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/GettyImages-663339012.jpg

The Chicago Fire went into Saturday’s match against Orlando SC at Toyota Park trying to keep their eight game unbeaten streak alive, and David Accam made sure that their effort got off to a great start with a spectacular goal.

The goal, which came just two minutes into the match, featured some deft passing by Bastian Schweinsteiger and Matt Polster, but it was Accam’s amazing finish on a back-heel kick in front of the neck that capped the play off:

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Accam wasn’t done either, as he scored another goal just over six minutes later to pick up his first career brace and give the Fire an early 2-0 lead over Orlando.

The Fire have not lost an MLS match since they fell to the New York Red Bulls in late April. Since then, the Fire have won six matches and have raced all the way to second place in the Eastern Conference.

If they can beat Orlando on Saturday, they will move to within a point of Toronto FC in the table.  



Photo Credit: Getty Images
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<![CDATA[White Sox Retire Mark Buehrle's Number]]> Sat, 24 Jun 2017 17:00:56 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/GettyImages-800601814.jpg

In an emotional pregame ceremony at Guaranteed Rate Field, the Chicago White Sox retired Mark Buehrle’s jersey number on Saturday afternoon.

Buehrle, who pitched in 12 seasons for the White Sox, was the star of the day, and his family got to participate as well, as his daughter threw out the first pitch and his son sang the National Anthem before the Sox game against the Oakland A’s.

Broadcaster Ken “Hawk” Harrelson, who will be retiring after the 2018 season, helped guide the ceremony on Saturday, and was on the mic when Buehrle’s number was unveiled:

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Naturally, the moment brought out some fond memories for White Sox fans as they reflected on Buehrle’s 12 years on the South Side.

Plenty of fans remembered Buehrle’s perfect game, which featured an insane game-saving catch by DeWayne Wise:

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His no-hitter against the Texas Rangers was another memorable moment, as he picked off Sammy Sosa and faced the minimum number of batters in the victory:

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Buehrle’s defense, which earned him four Gold Gloves in his big league career, was also mentioned, including his most famous stop as he flipped a ball between his legs to Paul Konerko for an out on Opening Day:

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His relationship with Joe West also elicited some chuckles:

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Even Mayor Rahm Emanuel, a Cubs fan, issued a statement congratulating Buehrle on having his jersey retired.

“White Sox fans will always remember the 12 seasons Mark Buehrle spent on the south side, and the gritty work ethic that endeared him to so many,” Emanuel said. “Mark Buehrle’s career will now extend beyond the record books alone, and his number 56 will hang above White Sox games from this day forward.”

Buehrle is the 11th White Sox player to have his number retired, joining franchise legends like Minnie Minoso, Luke Appling, Luis Aparicio, and Frank Thomas. 



Photo Credit: Getty Images
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<![CDATA[Opinion: Bowman Rolls Dice on Blackhawks' Roster Shuffle]]> Sat, 24 Jun 2017 16:17:20 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/GettyImages-800224840.jpg

Chicago Blackhawks General Manager Stan Bowman promised that changes would be in the offing when the team was swept out of the playoffs in April, and that’s exactly what happened over the weekend as the Windy City hosted the NHL Draft.

The weekend started with a pair of blockbuster trades, as the Blackhawks said goodbye to defenseman Niklas Hjalmarsson and forward Artemi Panarin. In their place came a familiar face, as Brandon Saad returned to the team, and some unfamiliar ones, as Laurent Dauphin and Connor Murphy joined the organization.

The overhaul continued during the draft itself, as the Blackhawks used their stockpiled picks to execute a change in their approach to their farm system. Puck moving defensemen were targeted, with Henri Jokiharju and Ian Mitchell were both selected in the first two rounds, and strong two-way forwards with a nose for the front of the net and an ability to shoot were also pinpointed, with Evan Barratt selected in the third round.

Amid all of the hubbub surrounding the Blackhawks over the weekend, one theme was made clear over and over again: this team is looking to go back to the identity that they had when they first won the Stanley Cup in 2010.

Gone are the days of trying to focus exclusively on veterans and retreads who have been through the battles on the ice before. Instead, the Blackhawks are focusing on getting younger, getting more skilled, and building more speed and puck possession into a plan of attack that has sorely lacked those qualities over the last few seasons.

The Blackhawks turned the keys over to some younger players during the 2016-17 season, but even more will be tossed into the pool this time around. Bowman specifically targeted defensemen Michal Kempny and Gustav Forsling as players that will need to step up their games next season, but other players like Nick Schmaltz and Alex DeBrincat will certainly be among the group the Blackhawks will hope can carry the team forward into a new era.

That movement toward speed and youth is a calculated risk for Bowman, who is trying to maximize a championship window while he still has the team’s key players in their prime. It feels like just yesterday that Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews were terrorizing the league as youngsters, but with both players entering their 11th seasons, the time to contend for a Stanley Cup championship is right now.

Trying to rebuild team depth and still contend for championships is a very difficult tightrope to walk, but the moves Bowman has made are designed to maximize the team’s chances. Both Murphy and Saad are cost-controlled, with contracts that last five and four more seasons respectively, and so Bowman will be better able to project out his team’s future financial outlays with them in the fold instead of Hjalmarsson and Panarin.

Whether or not Bowman will be successful in this latest endeavor remains to be seen, but one thing is certain: he is taking a big chance by getting rid of dependable players like Hjalmarsson and potential superstars like Panarin, but the gamble could pay off in a big way if the team’s architect plays his cards correctly. 



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Butler Blasts Bulls After Trade to Timberwolves]]> Sat, 24 Jun 2017 16:46:54 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/butler+GettyImages-620893754+2.jpg

After Jimmy Butler was traded by the Chicago Bulls on Thursday, many pundits penned pieces about how the face of the franchise had once again been dealt away, but the forward was having none of it.

Speaking to the Chicago Sun-Times, Butler blasted the Bulls for lacking loyalty toward players that they consider the “face of the franchise,” and questioned the logic behind affixing that label to anyone.

“It doesn’t mean a damn thing. I guess being called the face of an organization isn’t as good as I thought,” he said. “We all see where being the so-called face of the Chicago Bulls got me. So let me be just a player for the Timberwolves, man. That’s all I want to do.”

Butler was traded to the Timberwolves along with the 16th overall pick in the NBA Draft on Thursday night. In exchange, the Bulls received the 7th pick, Kris Dunn, and Zachary LaVine, and the deal sparked a wave of controversy as fans and writers alike questioned whether Butler was treated fairly.

Butler’s own trainer weighed in on the controversy, saying that there were “drug dealers with better morals” than Bulls G.M. Gar Forman, and team president John Paxson fired back, calling those accusations “unprofessional.”

“I completely disagree when someone takes a shot like that. It’s not right. It’s unprofessional, and he shouldn’t have done it,” he said. “I’ve worked with Gar a long time and it’s an unfair characterization.”

Whatever the case, Butler was still miffed that the Bulls traded him away after investing so much in him, and he’s just the latest player to be shown the door by the front office. Point guard Derrick Rose was also traded away by the team after the 2015-16 season, and the organization’s handling of his departure was also met with criticism.

Butler refused to accept the mantel as a “face of the franchise” for the Timberwolves now that he’s been traded, and says that he’s focused on just playing basketball instead of whatever labels are placed on him.

“Whatever they want to call me, I don’t even want to get into that anymore,” he said. “Whose team is it? All that means nothing. You know what I’ve learned? Face of the team, eventually you’re going to see the back of his head as he’s leaving town, so no thanks.”



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Blackhawks Pick Barratt, Mitchell on Draft's Second Day]]> Sat, 24 Jun 2017 12:08:02 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/GettyImages-800562642.jpg

The Chicago Blackhawks came into Saturday’s second round of the NHL Draft with nine selections, and they went about addressing some glaring holes in their prospect system as they emphasized speed and defense.

With their second round pick, the Blackhawks took right-handed defenseman Ian Mitchell of the AJHL’s Spruce Grove Saints. The Denver-commit is a tremendous puck mover, as he racked up 29 assists and eight goals for the Saints in his third season with the team last year.

The Blackhawks followed up that pick with two more selections in the third round, and with the first pick they took forward Andrei Altybarmakyan out of Russia. In 31 games in the MHL last season, he scored 20 goals and notched 25 assists, and he also racked up 77 penalty minutes as he established a reputation as a pesky forward with offensive upside.

With their second pick in the third round, the Blackhawks took winger Evan Barratt out of the U.S. National Team Development Program. He is a strong two-way player that likes getting the puck to the net, and his ability to use his size to its full effect will certainly be something to keep an eye on in the future.

“I always make it a point to skate to the net, because that’s where most goals get scored,” he told The Athletic Chicago back in January. “Getting into the dirty areas and fighting for pucks is how I define my game, and it’s where I’m successful at.”

In the fourth round, the Blackhawks swapped picks with the Vancouver Canucks and moved up to take Swedish forward Tim Soderlund. Soderlund had a decent season in the Swedish Hockey League last year, with three goals and four assists to his credit.

A few picks later, the Blackhawks got to select again, and they stayed in Scandinavia as they Roope Laavainen, a defenseman from Finland. Laavainen, the second Finnish defenseman taken by the Blackhawks after they also selected Henri Jokiharju in the first round, played for Jokerit last season, scoring five goals and dishing out 16 assists in 48 games.

Edmonton-product Parker Foo was the Blackhawks’ first pick of the fifth round. Playing for the AJHL’s Brooks Bandits, Foo scored 34 goals and notched 32 assists in 60 games last season, and he is committed to playing at Union College this fall.

With their second pick in the fifth round, the Blackhawks snagged Czech-born defenseman Jakub Galvas. Galvas, who played in several leagues last season, has a bit of offensive skill, scoring two goals and racking up seven assists in 17 games as a member of the Czech under-18 team on the international level a season ago.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Jokiharju Enjoys Spotlight as Blackhawks Draft Pick]]> Fri, 23 Jun 2017 22:24:13 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/IMG_00413.JPG

The Chicago Blackhawks traded back three spots in the first round of the NHL Draft on Friday night, but they still got their man as they selected Henri Jokiharju with the 29th overall pick.

Jokiharju, who scored nine goals and dished out 39 assists in 71 games with the Portland Winterhawks, had his name announced by Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews as the United Center crowd roared, and it was a moment the Finnish defenseman will never forget.

“It was an amazing feeling to hear them call my name,” he said. “There can’t be a better feeling than that.”

The defenseman, a right-handed shot, joins a Blackhawks system that is trying to load up on righties as G.M. Stan Bowman reshapes the roster. Jokiharju describes himself as a “good skater,” and he also feels like his other skills will help him make his way to the NHL at some point in his career.

“I’m a really good skater. I play with confidence, and I’m a good puck moving defenseman,” he said. “I make simple passes, and I like playing on the power play and penalty kill as well.”

Even though Jokiharju is the first Blackhawks first round draft pick since 2014, he won’t be rushed into the NHL by the team, according to G.M. Stan Bowman.

“I try not to put a timeline on it in terms of when he’ll be ready,” he said. “He can make things happen with the puck on the blue line. It’s hard to predict when he’s going to be ready for the NHL, but we’re not going to rush him. We’ll let him develop at his own rate, because I think he has a bright future.”

That bright future is still at least a few years away, but he’ll never forget his first taste of the big time.

“All I heard was Henri and I was like ‘yeah!,’” he said of the big moment. 



Photo Credit: James Neveau]]>
<![CDATA[Bettman Eggs on Fans at United Center]]> Fri, 23 Jun 2017 20:23:40 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/GettyImages-698829914.jpg

NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman is used to getting booed, and he wasn't all that impressed with the job that Chicago Blackhawks fans did at the NHL Draft on Friday. 

Bettman, who introduced the New Jersey Devils to kick off the draft, was booed heartily when he walked to the podium, but he challenged fans to work even harder to drown him out as he spoke: 

"You can do it. You can do better," he said with a big grin. 

When fans obliged him and booed even louder, the commissioner changed his tone from one of mockery to one of appreciation. 

"That's more like it!" he said. 

Like other sports commissioners, Bettman is routinely booed at NHL events, including the Stanley Cup presentation and the NHL Draft. 



Photo Credit: Getty Images
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<![CDATA[Boston Red Sox Retire David Ortiz's Number]]> Fri, 23 Jun 2017 22:42:13 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/David+Ortiz+Retired+Number.JPG

The Boston Red Sox officially retired No. 34 in honor of David Ortiz in a special ceremony at Fenway Park on Friday night.

"I love you, Boston," Big Papi told Red Sox Nation. "Thank you."

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Red Sox legends like Carl Yastrzemski, and relatives of others, like Johnny Pesky, were on hand to congratulate the slugging designated hitter.

Some of his former teammates, including Hall of Fame pitcher Pedro Martinez, catcher Jason Varitek, knuckleballer Tim Wakefield, and second baseman Dustin Pedroia, also honored Ortiz. Martinez and Pedroia both paid tribute in speeches.

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Friday morning, JetBlue unveiled a new Big Papi and Red Sox themed gate at Logan Airport. The gate, appropriately C34, is adorned with photos of Ortiz's top 10 Red Sox moments and his jersey. Ortiz was on hand for the dedication.

"I have been around for a long time and it's been a blessing being part of Boston," Ortiz said.

Big Papi played for the Red Sox for 14 consecutive seasons, helping the team win a total of three World Seriess Championships.

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On Thursday afternoon, the Red Sox and the City of Boston renamed the Yawkee Way extension near Fenway Park "David Ortiz Drive" in honor of the player.

Later in the day, Big Papi was roasted by friends and fellow heavy hitters in major league sports.

Friday's game against the Los Angeles Angels is set to begin at 7:10 p.m. but fans are encouraged to arrive earlier for the ceremony.

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Photo Credit: NBC Boston]]>
<![CDATA[NHL Draft Live Blog: Blackhawks Look to Make Splash]]> Fri, 23 Jun 2017 21:36:55 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/IMG_00371.JPG

The NHL Draft gets underway on Friday night, and the Chicago Blackhawks will be among many teams looking to make a splash at the United Center.

9:36 p.m. The first round ends as the Nashville Predators take Eeli Tolvanen, and the St. Louis Blues, who acquired the 31st pick in a trade with the Pittsburgh Penguins, take Klim Kostin to end the first round.  

8:52 p.m. The Chicago Blackhawks make the 29th pick, selecting defenseman Henri Jokiharju from the Portland Winterhawks. 

The 6-foot-0 defenseman scored nine goals and 39 assists with the Winterhawks in 71 games during the 2016-17 season. 

8:47 p.m. Morgan Frost goes to the Flyers with the 27th pick after they acquired the selection from the Blues, and the Ottawa Senators take Shane Bowers from the Waterloo Blackhawks of the USHL. 

Bowers scored 22 goals in 60 games for the Blackhawks in the 2016-17 campaign. 

8:38 p.m. The St. Louis Blues send the 27th overall pick, Jorl Lehtera, and a conditional first round pick to the Philadelphia Flyers in exchange for Brayden Schenn. 

8:33 p.m. The Chicago Blackhawks were on the clock, but they have traded the 26th overall pick to the Dallas Stars in exchange for the 29th pick and a third round pick in this year's draft. 

The Stars used the pick to take Jake Oettinger, a goaltender. The 6-foot-4 Oettinger had a 2.11 goals against average and a .927 save percentage last season. 

8:29 p.m. The Montreal Canadiens use the 25th pick in the draft to take Ryan Roehling. 

The St. Cloud State product scored seven goals and dished out six assists in 35 games played during the 2016-17 season. 

8:27 p.m. Kristian Vesalainen gets taken 24th overall by the Winnipeg Jets. He scored one goal and had five assists during the 2016-17 season. 

Pierre-Olivier Joseph was taken with the 23rd pick by the Arizona Coyotes, who acquired the pick from the Minnesota Wild in the Martin Hanzal trade earlier this year. 

8:13 p.m. The Edmonton Oilers use the 22nd pick to take Kailer Yamamoto from the Spokane Chiefs. 

At just 5-foot-8 and 160 pounds, Yamamoto is one of the smallest players in the draft, but he scored 99 points in 65 games with the Chiefs. He scored 42 goals for the club and racked up 46 penalty minutes. 

8:06 p.m. The New York Rangers keep the 21st pick in the draft, selecting Filip Chytil out of the Czech Republic. 

The center scored four goals and had four assists in 38 games last season. 

8:01 p.m. Robert Thomas (the hockey player, not the lead singer of Matchbox Twenty) is taken with the 20th overall pick by the St. Louis Blues. He was appropriately described as a "Smooth" skater by USA Today, and at 6-foot-0 and 184 pounds, no one is likely to "Push" him around. 

7:56 p.m. With the 19th pick, the San Jose Sharks have grabbed Joshua Norris. A product of the National Team Development Program, Norris had a strong season in 2016-17, with 23 goals and 28 assists. 

7:51 p.m. Urho Vaakanainen, a defenseman from Finland, is the 18th overall pick, as he'll be selected by the Boston Bruins. 

The 6-foot-1 blue liner scored two goals and had four assists in 41 games in Finland last season. 

7:45 p.m. Timothy Liljegren is the 17th overall pick, as he'll head to the young and exciting Toronto Maple Leafs. 

He scored one goal and had four assists in 19 games in the Swedish League last season. 

7:39 p.m. The Calgary Flames keep the 16th pick and they take defenseman Juuso Valimaki out of Tri-City in the WHL. 

Valimaki scored 19 goals and dished out 42 assists off the blue line in the 2016-17 season, and although he's a bit on the slim side, he still could fill out and make an impact at both ends of the ice. 

7:36 p.m. Erik Brannstrom from Sweden goes to the Golden Knights, as they make their third selection of the first round and the 15th pick overall.

Brannstrom scored one goal and five assists for the HV 71 Junior team last season, and although he's somewhat undersized, he has some solid offensive upside on the blue line. 

7:32 p.m. Cal Foote goes to the Tampa Bay Lightning with the 14th pick, as the Bolts pick up a sizable defenseman with some good offensive upside in the middle portion of the draft. 

7:24 p.m. The Golden Knights hold onto their second pick in the first round, taking Nick Suzuki out of Owen Sound. 

Suzuki racked up 96 points in the 2016-17 season, with 45 goals and just 10 penalty minutes in 65 games. 

7:18 p.m. The draft continues to roll along, as Czech center Martin Necas goes to the Carolina Hurricanes. A strong passer, Necas didn't put up great numbers, with just seven goals and eight assists, but scouts insist that he has a ton of potential as a playmaker. 

7:14 p.m. Gabriel Vilardi is the 11th overall pick, as he heads to the Los Angeles Kings. 

Vilardi, who played for the Windsor Spitfires as they captured the Memorial Cup title, scoring 29 goals and dished out 32 assists in 49 games during the 2016-17 season. 

7:08 p.m. Dale Tallon gets some nice cheers as Florida makes the 10th overall pick, and they snag Owen Tippett. 

Out of Mississauga, he scored 44 goals during the 2016-17 season, and has been ranked as the best pure scorer in the draft by man outlets. 

6:58 p.m. Hearty boos rained down on Gary Bettman as he announced that the Detroit Red Wings were on the clock, and a "Detroit Sucks" chant also breaks out at the United Center. 

Michael Rasmussen, a 6-foot-6 center, is the pick in the number nine slot. From Tr-City in the WHL, Rasmussen scored 32 goals and had 23 assists in 50 games played in the junior season. 

6:55 p.m. No new trades have been made to this point so far, and the Buffalo Sabres continued that trend as they took Casey Mittelstadt out of Eden Prairie High School. 

The 6-foot-1 center won Mr. Hockey in Minnesota, scoring 21 goals in his senior season at the school. 

6:50 p.m. The New York Rangers, using the pick they acquired from the Arizona Coyotes in exchange for Antti Raanta and Derek Stepan, take Lias Andersson with the seventh selection. 

The Swedish product weighs 201 pounds and stands just 5-foot-11, and he scored nine goals and 10 assists in 42 games last season for HV 71 in the Swedish Elite League. 

6:44 p.m. The Vegas Golden Knights snag Cody Glass with their first ever draft pick. He scored 32 goals and racked up 62 assists for the Portland Winterhawks during the 2016-17 season. 

Glass also appeared for Team Canada in the World Junior Championships, scoring twice in three games. 

6:38 p.m. The Vancouver Canucks draft center Elias Pettersson out of Sweden with the fifth pick. 

Pettersson will need to gain some weight, as he only tips the scale at 168 pounds despite standing 6-foot-1, but he has a wicked shot and should become a solid center with some work on building muscle. 

6:35 p.m. The first round of the draft is rolling along, as the Colorado Avalanche take Cale Makar, a defenseman from Calgary. 

Makar, who is committed to UMass Amherst this fall, scored 24 goals and racked up 51 assists in 54 games with the Brooks Bandits of the AJHL last season. 

USA Today ranked him as the number 10 overaall prospect in this season's draft class. 

6:28 p.m. The Dallas Stars go with a defenseman with the third pick, taking Miro Heiskanen out of Finland. 

The two-way defenseman scored five goals and dished out five assists in 37 games with HIFK of the Finnish Liiga in the 2016-17 season. 

6:23 p.m. The Philadelphia Flyers promised that they would take either Nolan Patrick or Nico Hischier with the second pick in the draft, and they followed through on that vow as they took Patrick with the pick. 

Patrick, ranked as the top prospect by several outlets, is a big-bodied center that plays a strong game up the middle, and he wears the number 19 jersey in honor of Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews. 

6:14 p.m. The New Jersey Devils have made the first selection in the draft, snagging Nico Hischier, a center from the Halifax Mooseheads. 

Hischier racked up 57 goals in the 2016-17 season with the Mooseheads, and he highlights a deep group of centers that will be looking to make an impact on the NHL this season. 

The Blackhawks have already made a splash on Friday, acquiring Connor Murphy in a trade with the Arizona Coyotes and Brandon Saad from the Columbus Blue Jackets. 

In exchange, the Blackhawks sent Niklas Hjalmarsson to the Coyotes, and they sent Artemi Panarin to the Blue Jackets on a monumental morning in the Windy City. 

Now, the Blackhawks will be looking to make even more splashes as they enter the NHL Entry Draft field. They currently hold the 26th pick in the first round, and they'll potentially look to move up as they try to make some noise in their home building. 



Photo Credit: James Neveau]]>
<![CDATA[Butler Shares Heartfelt Goodbye to Chicago After Bulls Trade]]> Fri, 23 Jun 2017 13:42:40 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/GettyImages-630819834.jpg

Jimmy Butler had a heartfelt message to Chicago one day after being traded by the Bulls in a blockbuster trade that stunned the basketball world. 

"I truly struggle with the words because you've been so much more than just my home for the last 6 years," Butler wrote on Instagram Friday. "You've been my life! You've embraced me like a son and pushed me to get better every day, every season."

Despite repeatedly saying he wanted to continue playing for the Bulls, Butler was traded along with the 16th overall pick in the draft in exchange for 7th overall pick in Thursday's NBA Draft Lauri Markkanen, Zach LaVine and Kris Dunn from the Timberwolves.

"I can honestly say that I have always been incredibly motivated to succeed; it's just the way I'm built. But I know I owe so much to the person I am now, and to the player that I've become, to you," Butler's goodbye letter read. "You always pushed me to never give anything less than my absolute best night in, night out. That's what you expected. That's what you deserved. And, I hope you know that's what I dedicated my life to every time I walked into the facility or stepped on the floor of the United Center."

Butler was the subject of trade rumors throughout the run-up to the draft, but had reportedly kiboshed any deal that would send him to the Cleveland Cavaliers. 

The move likely signals the beginning of a significant rebuild in Chicago, and could be just the first domino to fall in a longer process. 

"Always difficult to trade a player and a person that has meant a lot to the organization," Executive Vice President John Paxson said. "He made himself into a great player."

He added that Butler is "a class person" and "he'll be missed."

Butler thanked the Bulls organization and Reinsdorf family "for taking a chance on me in 2011 and for giving me the opportunity to play the sport I love for such a great franchise."

"I'll never forget the feeling I had when I was drafted and when I played my first minutes," he wrote. "It's an experience that I wouldn't have wanted with any other team and I'm so thankful to you for giving me that opportunity."

Read his full message below:

What can I say?! I truly struggle with the words because you've been so much more than just my home for the last 6 years, you've been my life! You've embraced me like a son and pushed me to get better every day, every season.

I can honestly say that I have always been incredibly motivated to succeed; it's just the way I'm built. But I know I owe so much to the person I am now, and to the player that I've become, to you.

You always pushed me to never give anything less than my absolute best night in, night out. That's what you expected. That's what you deserved. And, I hope you know that's what I dedicated my life to every time I walked into the facility or stepped on the floor of the United Center.

Thank you to the entire Bulls organization and Reinsdorf Family for taking a chance on me in 2011 and for giving me the opportunity to play the sport I love for such a great franchise. I'll never forget the feeling I had when I was drafted and when I played my first minutes. It's an experience that I wouldn't have wanted with any other team and I'm so thankful to you for giving me that opportunity.

Chicago, I love you. Thanks for embracing a kid from Tomball like one of your own. On to a new home and a new organization. Thankfully, with some familiar faces! PS... AND PROBABLY MOST IMPORTANT! THANK YOU TO EVERYBODY BEHIND THE ORGANIZATION THAT DO NOT GET THE SHINE THAT THEY DESERVE!! YALL ARE THE REAL ALL-STARS!! - Jimmy G. Buckets



Photo Credit: Getty Images
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<![CDATA[Butler's Trainer Has Harsh Words Following Bulls Trade]]> Fri, 23 Jun 2017 12:32:33 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/GettyImages-673591772.jpg

Not long after news broke that the Chicago Bulls, in a massive move, traded star forward Jimmy Butler to the Minnesota Timberwolves Thursday night, Butler's trainer had some harsh words on Twitter. 

Travelle Gaines, of Athletic Gaines, first responded to the news by asking his followers on Twitter if anyone knows of real estate agents in Minneapolis. 

But just two hours later, the social media response took a very different tone. 

"0-82.worst culture in the league," he wrote. "I met drug dealers with better morals then their GM. He is a liar and everyone knows."

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Gaines did not directly name the Bulls or management in his tweet, but reports have noted that the tweet was sent from France, where Butler is believed to be vacationing.

The Bulls received the 7th overall pick in Thursday's NBA Draft, Zach LaVine, along with Kris Dunn from the Timberwolves in exchange for Butler and the 16th overall pick in the draft. 

Butler was the subject of trade rumors throughout the run-up to the draft, but he had reportedly kiboshed any deal that would send him to the Cleveland Cavaliers. 

The move likely signals the beginning of a significant rebuild in Chicago, and could be just the first domino to fall in a longer process. 

With the seventh pick in the draft, the Timberwolves took Lauri Markkanen, a 7-foot-tall shooting forward out of Arizona. That pick then went to the Bulls.

Markkanen made nearly two three-pointers per game in his lone season with the Wildcats, and he averaged 15.6 points and 7.2 rebounds per game during the campaign. He also made nearly 50 percent of his field goals during the year. 

Gaines wasn't the only one to react on Twitter after the blockbuster deal. 

Chicago Bulls guard Dwyane Wade posted a picture of himself with Butler not long after the deal was reported. 

"D.A.M.N haha. My Guy!!!! #Morelife," the caption read. 

Former Bull Scottie Pippen also tweeted that he hates "to see @JimmyButler go."

"One of the @NBA's best two way players who has come a LONG way," Pippen wrote. "Thibs is fortunate to get him back." 

[[430340873, C]]



Photo Credit: Getty Images
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<![CDATA[Blackhawks Trade Panarin to Blue Jackets for Saad]]> Fri, 23 Jun 2017 11:54:58 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/panarin+saad.jpg

The Chicago Blackhawks have made another massive trade on Friday before the NHL Draft, sending Artemi Panarin to the Columbus Blue Jackets in exchange for Brandon Saad. 

Panarin scored 61 goals and dished out 90 assists in two seasons with the Blackhawks. The winger signed a two-year contract extension with the Blackhawks earlier this year, but his $6 million annual salary will head to Columbus as part of the deal.

"We thank Artemi for the immediate impact he made on our lineup during his seamless transition to the NHL," Blackhawks G.M. Stan Bowman said. "His rookie year will always rank among the best in franchise history and his exciting style of play provided many memorable moments for our fans during his two seasons as a member of the team." 

The Blackhawks traded Saad to the Blue Jackets in 2015 after they won their third Stanley Cup in six seasons. Saad signed a six-year deal worth $36 million with the Jackets, and he still has four years left on that deal as he returns to Chicago after winning two championships with the team.

Saad scored 24 goals and picked up 29 assists for the Blue Jackets last year as they racked up one of the best records in the NHL.

The Blackhawks will also get goaltender Anton Forsberg and a fifth round pick in the 2018 draft in the swap. The Blue Jackets will also receive forward Tyler Motte and a 2017 sixth-round pick.  

We'll have more details as they come in on this breaking story. 



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Blackhawks Trade Hjalmarsson to Coyotes]]> Fri, 23 Jun 2017 11:12:18 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/Niklas+Hjalmarsson.png

Before the NHL Entry Draft Friday, the Chicago Blackhawks made a massive splash as they traded defenseman Niklas Hjalmarsson to the Arizona Coyotes. 

Hjalmarsson, a member of three Stanley Cup championship teams with the Blackhawks, scored 23 goals and dished out 120 assists as a member of the team, and his shot-blocking prowess and hard-nosed attitude endeared him to teammates and fans alike. 

“Niklas’ contributions to the three Stanley Cup championship teams are well known but his dependability as a teammate, selfless attitude and the way he represented the Chicago Blackhawks on and off the ice are what made him such a beloved member of the organization,” Chicago Blackhawks Senior Vice President and General Manager Stan Bowman said in a statment. “He made his debut in Chicago in 2008 and quietly established himself as one of the toughest competitors in franchise history. We wish he and his family continued success.”

In exchange, the Blackhawks received defenseman Connor Murphy and center Laurent Dauphin. 

Murphy, a 20th overall pick of the Coyotes in the 2011 draft, played 258 games in Arizona, scoring 13 goals and notching 36 assists. As a right-handed defenseman, Murphy adds more balance to the Blackhawks' attack, and also gives the team a bit of an offensive boost on the back end. 

Dauphin, a 22-year-old center, scored 17 goals and had 11 assists for the AHL's Tucson Roadrunners last season. He has appeared in 32 career NHL games, scoring three goals for the Coyotes in his brief career. 

Check back for details on this developing story.



Photo Credit: Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA['Dream Come True': Lauri Markkanen Reacts to Becoming a Bull]]> Fri, 23 Jun 2017 09:42:03 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/GettyImages-699983444.jpg

Lauri Markkanen has been dreaming of playing in the NBA "forever," and that dream became a reality Thursday night when he was selected by the Chicago Bulls as part of a blockbuster trade involving star forward Jimmy Butler. 

The no. 7 pick in the draft, the 7-foot-tall shooting forward out of Arizona was ultimately acquired by the Bulls, along with Zach LaVine and Kris Dunn in exchange for Butler and the 16th overall pick in the draft. 

"Let's go @chicagobulls! Dream come true!!" Markkanen wrote on Twitter after the news broke. "Can't wait to get to Chitown and get to work!!! #Bulls."

He later tweeted a photo of himself in a Bulls hat with two thumbs up.

"#NewProfilePic," the tweet read. 

In a video posted by the Bulls later that night, Markkanen said he's excited to be a part of the team.

"I'm looking forward to coming there soon," he said. 

Bulls General Manager Gar Forman said Markkanen was "the best player on the board."

"He's a guy who fits our team and fits how the game is being played in the NBA," he said, adding that the team needs to improve its shooting. 

Markkanen made nearly two three-pointers per game in his lone season with the Wildcats, and he averaged 15.6 points and 7.2 rebounds per game during the campaign. He also made nearly 50 percent of his field goals during the year. 

Executive Vice President John Paxson said the trade marked "the first opportunity where we felt a deal presented itself that made sense."

"We got 3 lottery picks today," he said. 

Butler was the subject of trade rumors throughout the run-up to the draft, but he had reportedly kiboshed any deal that would send him to the Cleveland Cavaliers. 

The move likely signals the beginning of a significant rebuild in Chicago, and could be just the first domino to fall in a longer process. 

"These are hard things to do. We traded a guy we really like," Paxson said. "Tonight, we made a decision to change direction and define our path." 



Photo Credit: Getty Images
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<![CDATA[Wade Reacts to Butler Trade Reports]]> Thu, 22 Jun 2017 20:15:32 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/GettyImages-670021310.jpg

Chicago Bulls guard Dwyane Wade had an interesting reaction to reports that his teammate Jimmy Butler had been traded on Thursday night, taking to Instagram to express his feelings on the deal. 

Wade, who reportedly agreed to pick up his 2017-18 contract option with the Bulls earlier this week, will likely now be the star of the team, but he posted a picture with Butler after the deal was reported by multiple outlets: 

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"D.A.M.N haha. My Guy!!!! #Morelife," the caption to Wade's photo read. 

Butler was reportedly traded to the Minnesota Timberwolves on Thursday during the first round of the NBA Draft in exchange for the seventh overall pick, Zach LaVine, and Kris Dunn, according to mutliple reports. 

Wade signed with the Bulls prior to the 2016-17 season, and he was looking to form a strong trio with Butler and point guard Rajon Rondo. The three looked good at times during the season, but injuries and poor play derailed the group as they were knocked out in the first round of the NBA playoffs. 

According to TNT's David Aldridge, when Wade opted back into his Bulls' contract, the reporter asked him why he decided to stay. 

"$24 million reasons," Wade reportedly replied. 



Photo Credit: Getty Images
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<![CDATA[Jeter Meets With Marlins, Remains Short on Funds: Report]]> Thu, 22 Jun 2017 18:19:04 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/GettyImages-683113516.jpg

Derek Jeter met with the Miami Marlins on Thursday and remains short on funds, according to a report by the Miami Herald.

Jeter is part of one of three reported groups that is vying for ownership of the Marlins. Thus far, no group has been able to come up with the reported $1.3 billion asking price. After meeting with Marlins' president David Samson and MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred on Thursday, Jeter still is trying to find investors.

Along with Jeter, Samson and Manfred, Greg Fleming sat in on the meeting. Fleming may be one of the most important aspects of the meeting, as he is the former chief of Morgan Stanley Wealth Management. Fleming is said to be one of the investors in Jeter's group and it could be a sizable stake.

While Jeter will only contribute a relatively small amount to the team, he would be in complete control of the club. This requirement by Jeter was the reported reason for Jeb Bush exiting the group. Jeter would handle both the baseball and business sides of the organization, if a deal comes to fruition.

While there are three groups reported to be in the running, Jeter remains the front-runner. A group including Tagg Romney and Tom Glavine is considered to be the runner-up. The third group has unknown members in it and would be looked at as a dark horse candidate.

In addition to coming up with the funds to buy the team, MLB wants the new owner to have enough equity to run the team properly. Miami is expected to take losses in the near future and would need to be able to cover those. The Marlins have a losing record this season, but will host a valuable All-Star Game in July.

With the ownership talks hanging in the balance, Miami will look to continue a turnaround on the field. The Marlins are currently hosting the World Series champion Chicago Cubs for four games at Marlins Park.



Photo Credit: Rich Schultz/Getty Images, File]]>
<![CDATA[Chicago Blackhawks Release 2017-18 Schedule]]> Thu, 22 Jun 2017 14:22:47 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/patrick+kane4.png

The Chicago Blackhawks announced their 2017-18 schedule on Thursday, and they’ll open the campaign with two straight home games as they take on the Pittsburgh Penguins and Columbus Blue Jackets.

The Blackhawks, who were swept out of the postseason in the first round, won’t have to deal with the hassle of a circus road trip this season, but they’ll still have a lengthy trip at the end of December as they have a six-game road trip that spans the American continent, going from New Jersey to Vancouver and to four cities in between.

The Blackhawks also have a six game home stand in mid-January, as they’ll welcome divisional rivals like Minnesota and Winnipeg, as well as long-time rival Detroit to the United Center.

Here is the team's full schedule: 

Chicago will make two road trips to Las Vegas this season as they battle the brand new Vegas Golden Knights. They’ll make their first trip there on Oct. 24, and they’ll make a return trip on Feb. 13.

 They’ll make their first trip down to Nashville to take on the Predators on Nov. 28, but they’ll welcome the defending Western Conference champions to the United Center on Oct. 27. 



Photo Credit: Getty Images
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<![CDATA[Jimmy Butler Traded to Timberwolves in Blockbuster Trade]]> Thu, 22 Jun 2017 22:04:42 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/GettyImages-6720614581.jpg

The Chicago Bulls made a massive move on Thursday night, trading star forward Jimmy Butler to the Minnesota Timberwolves in a blockbuster deal.

The Bulls will receive the 7th overall pick in Thursday's NBA Draft, Zach LaVine, and Kris Dunn from the Timberwolves in exchange for Butler and the 16th overall pick in the draft. 

Butler was the subject of trade rumors throughout the run-up to the draft, but he had reportedly kiboshed any deal that would send him to the Cleveland Cavaliers. 

The move likely signals the beginning of a significant rebuild in Chicago, and could be just the first domino to fall in a longer process. 

With the seventh pick in the draft, the Timberwolves took Lauri Markkanen, a 7-foot-tall shooting forward out of Arizona. That pick will go to the Bulls, and the 16th overall pick, Justin Patton out of Creighton, will go to the Timberwolves. 

Markkanen made nearly two three-pointers per game in his lone season with the Wildcats, and he averaged 15.6 points and 7.2 rebounds per game during the campaign. He also made nearly 50 percent of his field goals during the year. 



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Bears Announce 2017 Training Camp Schedule]]> Thu, 22 Jun 2017 12:48:33 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/trubisky+halas.png

The Chicago Bears will kick off their 2017 training camp in Bourbonnais on Thurs., July 27, the team announced on Thursday.

The Bears, who finished 3-13 last season and had one of the worst records in the NFL, will gather in Bourbonnais’ Olivet Nazarene University for their training camp at the end of July.

For the first time, the Bears will require that fans have tickets in order to get into training camp practices in Bourbonnais. The tickets are free, but they must be claimed by visiting ChicagoBears.com/camp prior to the workouts.

The team will host 10 open practices at the school, with two more practices that are closed to the public.

The team will also host their annual Family Fest event at Soldier Field on Aug. 5, according to their training camp schedule.

Here is the full schedule of practices that are open to the public:

July 27: 11:15 a.m. (no pads)

July 29: 11:15 a.m.

July 30: 11:15 a.m.

July 31: 11:30 a.m. (no pads)

Aug. 2: 11:15 a.m.

Aug. 3: 11:15 a.m.

Aug. 5: Family Fest (Soldier Field) 3 p.m.

Aug. 7: 11:15 a.m.

Aug. 8: 11:15 a.m.

Aug. 12: 12:05 p.m. (no pads)

Aug. 13: 11:15 a.m.

There are several special days on the schedule as well, including a Back to School Fair on July 29, Ladies Day on Aug. 2, and Blue and Orange Day on Aug. 13. 

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<![CDATA[Golden Knights Trade van Riemsdyk to Carolina: Reports]]> Thu, 22 Jun 2017 12:14:11 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/212*120/GettyImages-500862116.jpg

Less than 24 hours after he was plucked from the Chicago Blackhawks’ roster by the Vegas Golden Knights, defenseman Trevor van Riemsdyk is on the move again.

This time, van Riemsdyk is heading from Sin City to the East Coast, as he’s been traded to the Carolina Hurricanes, according to multiple reports.

In exchange, the Golden Knights will receive a late second round draft pick from the Hurricanes. Carolina will also get a seventh round pick in the swap, according to TSN’s Pierre LeBrun.

The young defenseman spent the first three seasons of his career with the Blackhawks, appearing in 158 games. He has scored eight career goals and dished out 23 assists in those games.

He was claimed during the NHL’s Expansion Draft on Wednesday night by the Golden Knights, who will begin play this October. Shortly after he was picked, reports emerged that several teams were trying to acquire him in a trade with Vegas, and Carolina ultimately won out over teams like Dallas, according to reports. 



Photo Credit: NHLI via Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Chicago Cubs to Send Kyle Schwarber to Minor Leagues]]> Thu, 22 Jun 2017 16:25:26 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/GettyImages-688379262.jpg

One of the Chicago Cubs' biggest heroes from the 2016 World Series championship run is heading back to the minor leagues, the team confirmed. 

Kyle Schwarber, who began the season as the Cubs' lead-off hitter, will be sent down to triple-A Iowa on Thursday. The outfielder, who is batting .171 with 12 home runs and 28 RBI, has struggled at the plate all season and will be sent down to work on his approach and mechanics.

Another outfielder will also be off for a little while, as Jason Heyward will be placed on the disabled list, according to reports. Heyward injured his hand diving for a catch in Sunday's game against the Pirates, and he will sit to let the injury heal. 

The Cubs will call up pitcher Dylan Floro and outfielder Mark Zagunis to replace Heyward and Schwarber on the 25-man roster.

The Cubs begin another road trip on Thursday when they battle the Miami Marlins.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[New Deal Makes Raider's Derek Carr NFL's Highest Paid QB]]> Thu, 22 Jun 2017 22:51:32 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/180*120/kahrpayydayye.jpg

Raiders quarterback Derek Carr wanted to get his contract extension done before training camp next month.

He got his wish.

Carr and the team have reached what is reported to be a five-year, $125 million deal, according to a story by Ian Rapoport of NFL.com Thursday morning.

An excited Carr confirmed that report on social media.

“Now it’s done!” he wrote on Twitter. “From the jump I’ve wanted to be a Raider 4 life. One step closer to that! Blessed!!! Business done! Let’s just play now!!!”

The deal is expected to pay Carr about $25 million per season, which will make him the NFL’s highest-paid quarterback. He’s heading into the final year of his first deal, signed after he was taken in the second round of the 2014 draft. That deal will pay him about $5.4 million this season, with the new terms kicking in starting in 2018.

The Raiders have been built with salary-cap flexibility under general manager Reggie McKenzie and are a reported $31 million under the salary cap.

Earlier this offseason, the Raiders signed defensive end-linebacker Khalil Mack to a long-term extension. Still to be done is a deal for starting guard Gabe Jackson.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Tearful Tribute: NHL Honors Bickell With Emotional Video]]> Thu, 22 Jun 2017 09:59:16 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/GettyImages-699489368.jpg

In a night filled with honors for some of the best hockey players in the country, one emotional moment stood above the rest.

The moment the NHL honored Bryan Bickell.

The former Blackhawk’s career was cut short after he was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in November. He ended his hockey run with the Carolina Hurricanes, playing in less than a dozen games with the team.

But his journey back from rehab to playing his final game in the NHL was an extraordinary moment that earned him praise during the league’s national awards ceremony.

“I didn’t know if I was going to play hockey again,” Bickell said in a heartfelt video showed during the ceremony.

After rehabbing for weeks, Bickell returned to play with the Hurricanes, revealing the team’s season finale against the Flyers would be his last.

“Those people were there for me,” Bickell said in the video as footage showed each Hurricanes player shaking his hand and hugging him before the game.

But as the game went into overtime, it was Bickell who was first up in the shootout – a shot that would ultimately become his last. And it went in.

The stadium erupted as fans, players and his family roared for the goal. 

“There’s hockey life and there’s life after hockey,” Bickell said in the video as he talked about his future with his family and seeing his daughters grow up.

Bickell went on to give a speech during the ceremony, thanking the Blackhawks and the Hurricanes and his fans.  

But it was his thank you to his wife that had tears streaming down the faces of many in the audience.

“When I said no, she said yes. She picked me up when I was down,” he said. “If it wasn’t for Amanda, for everything… Thank you Amanda.”

The moment ended with the league making a $20,000 donation to the Bryan & Amanda Bickell Foundation.




Photo Credit: Getty Images
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<![CDATA[Golden Knights Take van Riemsdyk in Expansion Draft]]> Wed, 21 Jun 2017 21:16:41 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/GettyImages-655506960.jpg

The Chicago Blackhawks lost defenseman Trevor van Riemsdyk to the Vegas Golden Knights n Wednesday’s NHL Expansion Draft.

The defenseman, who spent three seasons with the Blackhawks, is one of the players that the team took during the expansion draft on Wednesday in Las Vegas. The picks were announced at the annual NHL Awards ceremony, but took place earlier in the morning.

In three seasons with Chicago, van Riemsdyk scored eight goals and dished out 23 assists in 158 games, but he struggled to stay on the ice as a string of injures and occasional inconsistent play hurt his development with the franchise. 



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<![CDATA[White Sox Announce Buehrle Jersey Retirement Details]]> Wed, 21 Jun 2017 16:28:17 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/GettyImages-1258836421.jpg

Saturday afternoon will be a special day at Guaranteed Rate Field, as the Chicago White Sox will retire Mark Buehrle’s number 56 jersey during a pregame ceremony.

On Thursday, the team unveiled details for the ceremony, which will honor Buehrle’s stellar 12-year career on the South Side.

Parking lots around the ballpark will open at 10:10 a.m., according to the White Sox, and the gates to the ballpark itself will open at 11:10 a.m.

Every fan attending the game at Guaranteed Rate Field will receive a special pin commemorating the occasion.

The pregame ceremony will begin sometime around 12:15 p.m., with fans encouraged to be in their seats in time for the festivities to get underway.

In 12 seasons with the White Sox, Buehrle won 161 games and posted a 3.83 ERA in 390 career appearances. He won three Gold Glove Awards, was named to four All-Star Games, and finished in the top five of Cy Young voting during the 2005 season.

That season was a special one for Buehrle and the White Sox, as they won their first championship in 88 years. Buehrle pitched in two games of the World Series, including nailing down the save in Game 3 of the sweep against the Houston Astros.  

According to the White, a very limited number of tickets are still available to Saturday’s game against the Oakland A’s, which starts at 1:10 p.m. 



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[White Sox Sign Top Draft Pick Jake Burger]]> Wed, 21 Jun 2017 15:25:28 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/GettyImages-683050144.jpg

The Chicago White Sox have inked first round draft pick Jake Burger to a contract, the team announced Wednesday.

The contract will pay Burger, the 11th overall pick in this month’s MLB Draft, a $3.7 million signing bonus, slightly below the $4.1 million slot value that the pick holds, the team announced.

Burger, a third baseman out of Missouri State, drilled 22 home runs and drove in 65 RBI while scoring 69 runs for the Bears this season.

“We are pleased to add Jake’s right-handed power bat to the organization,” White Sox G.M. Rick Hahn said in a statement. “He has a great mix of power and discipline at the plate, and he is a high-character guy who will fit nicely into the organization going forward.”

That White Sox organization has undergone a massive overhaul in the last few months, as the team has assembled one of the best collections of top young talent in the league. Trades landed them top prospects like Yoan Moncada and Lucas Giolito, and they have also dipped into free agency to sign highly coveted Cuban phenom Luis Robert. 



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Addison Russell's Wife Files for Divorce, Attorney Says]]> Wed, 21 Jun 2017 13:09:25 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/GettyImages-694219534.png

After a highly-publicized Instagram post that accused her husband of infidelity, the wife of Chicago Cubs shortstop Addison Russell has filed for divorce, her attorney announced Wednesday.

Melisa Russell hired an attorney to represent her in divorce proceedings, according to a press release issued by her attorney’s law firm.

“It is her desire to pursue a resolution that is, first and foremost, in the best interest of the parties’ son, and which occurs in a swift, amicable, and private fashion,” the statement read.

In an Instagram post published in early June, Melisa Russell accused her husband of infidelity.

“Being free to be able to make your own choices for your own happiness beats being cheated on, lied to, and disrespected every day,” the since-deleted post read.

Melisa Russell’s attorney also announced that his client declined an invitation from Major League Baseball to talk about the domestic violence allegations made by one of her friends on the deleted Instagram post.

The allegation that the shortstop mentally and physically abused his wife was reportedly under investigation by the league as part of its sweeping powers to impose discipline for domestic abuse allegations and charges.

 The Cubs’ shortstop denied the accusations.

“Any allegation I have abused my wife is false and hurtful,” Russell said after the post was published.

MLB has not made any announcements on potential discipline for Russell, or if an investigation is taking place. The shortstop missed one game for the Cubs after the allegations broke, but returned to the team’s dugout the following night.



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<![CDATA[Blackhawks Reveal Jersey for 2017-18 Season]]> Wed, 21 Jun 2017 12:26:05 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/GettyImages-654966984.jpg

The Chicago Blackhawks have long been ranked as one of the top jersey designs in the NHL, and the team unveiled their newest look on Tuesday night. 

The new look, which came about because of the NHL's switch to Adidas as the league's primary jersey provider, was unveiled as part of a huge event in Las Vegas on Tuesday night. All 31 teams, including the Vegas Golden Knights, unveiled their new looks, and while some teams went with drastic changes, the Blackhawks were much more subtle. 

Here is their new jersey look: 

At first glance, there doesn't appear to be a lot different in the jersey from the Reebok models that the team has worn the last several seasons. Here is that jersey: 

The one big difference in the jersey is the design of the collar, which is consistent with all the new Adidas jerseys. A subtle difference in the cut of the jersey is present as well, but other than that, all of the hallmarks of the Blackhawks' classic jerseys are there. 

What do you think of the new look, Blackhawks fans? 



Photo Credit: Getty Images
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