Year in Review: Top 12 Chicago Sports Stories of 2016

2016 saw the highest of highs (a Chicago Cubs World Series) and the lowest of lows (the Chicago Bears), and it made for some pretty incredible Chicago sports headlines.

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2016 was an incredible year for Chicago sports, as some teams experienced the highest of highs (the Chicago Cubs winning their first World Series title in more than 100 years) and others experienced the lowest of lows (the Chicago Bears could finish with their worst record since the league expanded their schedule to 16 games). With the book nearly closed on 2016, it’s time to look back and reflect on some of the stories that helped shape the sports year, and to that end we’ve compiled a list of 12 of the biggest Chicago sports stories of the year, and what they could mean for the teams and athletes involved moving forward.
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Feb. 17, 2016: Artemi Panarin scores first career hat trick While Patrick Kane stole headlines with his remarkable play, the emergence of Panarin as a bona fide star is arguably just as important. The talented Russian finished in the top-10 in the NHL in scoring last season and looks to be on the same pace this season, and his coming out party was an incredible performance against the New York Rangers where he notched his first career hat trick.
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Feb. 25, 2016: Dexter Fowler shocks Cubs by returning to team Reports had swirled that Fowler had signed a contract with the Baltimore Orioles, but then on the morning of Feb. 25, the outfielder showed up at the team’s spring training complex in Arizona and surprised all of his teammates and manager Joe Maddon. Of all the moves the team made in the offseason, this one may have set the tone the most as they would go on to sport the best record in baseball.
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June 22, 2016: Patrick Kane wins Hart Memorial Trophy as NHL MVP For the first time in nearly 50 years, the Chicago Blackhawks had an NHL MVP in 2016, as Patrick Kane won the trophy and made himself the first Blackhawk to do so since the legendary Stan Mikita did it in 1968. In fact, Kane also became the first ever American-born player to win the award as he led the NHL in points and helped the Blackhawks to their eighth consecutive playoff appearance.
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June 23, 2016: Bulls trade Derrick Rose to the New York Knicks After becoming the first overall pick in the NBA Draft and winning an NBA MVP award with his hometown team back in 2011, the end of the line came quickly for Derrick Rose over the summer, as he was traded to the Knicks in a blockbuster deal. The departure of Rose signaled a new franchise direction for the Bulls, who wanted to begin the process of molding the team around Jimmy Butler. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
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July 6, 2016: Dwyane Wade agrees to a deal with the Bulls In the summer of 2010, the Chicago Bulls attempted to obtain both Wade and LeBron James, but both players ended up deciding to sign with the Miami Heat, where they won two championships together. At long last, Wade decided to sign with his hometown team as free agency began, and he immediately became the biggest free agent signing in recent memory for the squad. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
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Aug. 17, 2016: Evan Jager wins the United States’ first medal in steeplechase since 1984 The Rio Olympics were kind to many Chicago athletes, with the city winning countless gold medals in sports like basketball (Jimmy Butler, Elena Delle Donne) and swimming (Ryan Murphy, Connor Dwyer). It was truly a remarkable feat for Jager to win a silver medal in the steeplechase, an event dominated by Kenya and one that the United States had not medaled in since the 1984 Games in Los Angeles. (Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)
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Sept. 12, 2016: Elena Delle Donne undergoes thumb surgery The defending WNBA MVP, Delle Donne dealt with a host of thumb issues during the 2016 season, and she had to undergo surgery just before the postseason began. Her loss was a huge blow to the Sky’s chances of winning a championship, and it also set the stage for questions to arise about whether she would return to the team in 2017. (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)
Sept. 19, 2016: Jay Cutler suffers thumb injury vs. Philadelphia It was a rough year for the Chicago Bears in all areas of the game, as they dealt with the drama involving Alshon Jeffery’s contract situation and with a couple of high-profile suspensions, but nowhere has 2016 been more painful for the team than on the injury front. They have more players on injured reserve than any other squad in the league, and Cutler’s thumb injury kind of set of tone for the injuries they’d suffer the rest of the way. Ultimately Cutler injured his shoulder in a game against the Giants later in the year, and that injury landed him on I.R. as well. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
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Oct. 25, 2016: Kyle Schwarber returns from ACL surgery to join Cubs’ World Series roster When rumblings began over the summer that Schwarber was aggressively rehabbing a knee injury that he suffered in the first week of the regular season, most people thought that he would play a bit of winter ball and leave it at that. Instead, the remarkable slugger came back for the World Series and was a total monster at the plate, hitting over .400 and picking up a rally-starting hit in the 10th inning of Game 7. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)
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Nov. 2, 2016: Chicago Cubs win the World SeriesnWithout question the biggest sports story of the year in this city, or in any city for that matter. It may actually be the biggest sports story in the history of sports, but that’s a debate for a different time. What matters now is that the Cubs have brought home Chicago’s fifth title of the new millennium, and they did it with dramatic flair, overcoming a 3-1 series deficit against the Cleveland Indians en route to winning the third World Series title in franchise history. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
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Nov. 17, 2016: Kris Bryant wins National League MVP Bryant has had quite a remarkable career with the Cubs, and he’s been on a roll in terms of winning trophies lately. After winning an award as the best player in college baseball in 2013, Bryant was named the best minor league player in the game in 2014, won Rookie of the Year with the Cubs in 2015, and became the first Cubs player in nearly two decades to win NL MVP when he won the trophy in 2016. Add a World Series ring to that trophy case, and Bryant’s eyes aren’t the only things that are sparkling.
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Dec. 6, 2016: Chris Sale traded to the Boston Red Sox For several years, White Sox fans have been clamoring for the team to make moves to establish a competitive future, and after a year dominated by headlines about Adam LaRoche’s son and torn up jerseys, they finally moved in that direction this month. Sale’s trade was the big salvo and likely just the first move, as the team also traded Adam Eaton and is entertaining trade offers on a slew of others.(Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)
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