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This Marian Hossa thing just keeps getting crazier

April 19, 2012 Leave a comment

(Chicago Tribune)–A man from Burr Ridge is accused of sending threatening emails to the president and owner of the Chicago Blackhawks and the former general manager of the Chicago Cubs, accusing them of “stealing his ideas” to win championships, police said.  Emanuel Kuvakos, 56, was arrested Tuesday night and charged with three counts of misdemeanor harassment by electronic means, police said.  Kuvakos sent “a number’’ of emails to Blackhawks CEO John McDonough and to Jim Hendry, the former general manager of the Chicago Cubs, that accused them of “stealing his ideas to win championships,’’ according to a police report. On Saturday, he sent them another email stating that he would keep the Blackhawks from winning the Stanley Cup, police said.  While being interviewed by authorities, he claimed he also sent a message to Rocky Wirtz, the Blackhawks owner, saying that if he ever saw Wirtz, he would beat him, according to the police report. Kuvakos, whose nickname is “Mike,” said during a telephone interview with the Chicago Tribune that he has been a freelance sportswriter for 30 years, and claimed he is a sports psychologist and “savant” who works for the Blackhawks, White Sox and the Cubs. Kuvakos denied the messages he sent accused officials of stealing his championship-winning ideas and claimed the police arrested him because of what “he knows’’ about the Blackhawks.”Police wouldn’t be responding if I wasn’t as important as I’m telling you,’’ he said. Shortly before hanging up on a reporter, he said he was becoming suspicious and asked if the interview was “set up” by the Chicago Police.

Son of a bitch!!! This thing is bigger than I thought.  I can’t even really begin to grasp a conspiracy this enormous.  All along this guy Emanuel “Mike” Kuvakos was giving the Blackhawks the secrets to winning the Stanley Cup.  Just told Rocky Wirtz to kill his old man. Told Tallon to  draft Toews, Kane, Seabrook, Keith, Byfuglien, Bolland, and Burish. Told him sign Brian Campbell, Hossa, and Niemi. Told him to trade for Versteeg and Ladd.  I mean that’s effing gold strategies for winning the Cup.  It worked.  Then the Blackhawks thought people would get wise if they were dominant for too long so they fired Dale Tallon and broke up the team.  They blamed it on the Salary Cap, but really it was to clean up all the loose ends of a massive conspiracy.  Somewhere along the way the Blackhawks made the mistake of pissing off “Mike”.  Maybe they didn’t give him a Stanley Cup ring. Maybe they fired him, who knows?  Whatever it was, it was bad enough to turn him against his hometown team.  This year he is sitting back watching the Blackhawks start moving towards another Stanley Cup run using the plan he created, but didn’t get any sort of compensation or even a thank you.  This bro flat-out tells the Hawks that he is going to prevent them from winning the Cup…then bang…Shaw gets a ridiculous suspension and Torres knocks out Hossa.  Did Kuvakos tell Gary Bettman all of the Blackhawks secrets?  Did Bettman order the kill shot on Hossa?  I mean I am sure Betman would be furious if he found out the Blackhawks were stealing secret strategies guaranteeing them a Stanley Cup.  So he sent his best assassine on the league owned Phoenix Coyotes to murder one of the Blackhawks superstars.  Stop the Hawks. Save the Coyotes. Torres is Oswald, Shanahan is Jack Ruby, Hossa is JFK, Kuvakos is Ferrie, I am Costner, and Bettman is the man behind it all pulling the strings.

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Introducing Brandon Saad: Rookie to make NHL Playoff Debut

April 19, 2012 Leave a comment

The Blackhawks will be inserting 2011 2nd round pick Brandon Saad into the lineup tonight in place of injured forward Marian Hossa.  Here are a few quick facts about the newest Blackhawk

  • Born and raised in the Pittsburgh, PA area
  • Physically mature. Listed at 6’2″ 210 lbs
  • At one time was considered a top 5 overall prospect in his draft class, but slipped to the Blackhawks in the second round when he didn’t perform as well as expected in his first OHL season
  • Saad plays left-wing.  His strengths on the ice are his hockey sense, strength, and scoring touch around the net
  • Saad had 76 points in 44 regular season games.  Then added 17 points in 12 OHL playoff games
  • Saad was awarded the sportsmanship award in the OHL this past season

Difficult spot for a rookie to come in.  Tonight won’t be Saad’s first NHL action as he had a cup of coffee with the varsity at the very beginning of the season, but the playoffs are obviously a different animal.  I believe that he is the best option for the Blackhawks to fill Hossa’s vacancy in the lineup.  Having said that, nobody can replace Hossa.  As I said yesterday, I would like to see Saad skate with Toews and Kane on the top line.  Those are big minutes for a rookie in his first playoff action, but playing with skilled and responsible players such as Toews and Kane should take some pressure off of Saad.

 

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What do you think this says about the knowledge of hockey fans in AZ?

April 18, 2012 Leave a comment

And people wonder why the Coyotes are moving to Quebec City.

PS: Kind of annoyed that ESPN even thought to ask this question.

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Picking up the pieces: A Game 3 Recap and a look towards Game 4

April 18, 2012 Leave a comment

  • I don’t really want to talk about the Torres-Hossa hit any more than I already have, but it’s impossible to give an accurate recap of the game without discussing it.  It had an impact on every aspect of the game.  Seeing Hossa carted off on a stretcher was a distraction for the players on the ice and the fans in the stands.  I am not a yeller at Hawks games, but I was particularly quiet during this game.  Seeing Hossa in that condition sucked the life out of the stadium.  In many ways it didn’t feel like a playoff atmosphere.  People were in a fog.  Combine that with the boring style Phoenix plays and it made for a stadium that lacked energy.  Hopefully the crowd is able to give the Hawks a boost in Game 4.
  • The officiating was beyond deplorable.  Obviously there should have been a 5 minute major and a game misconduct for Torres.  Instead the Hawks had Bollig out with a 10 minute misconduct and having to kill a penalty.  Then at the end of the 2nd period the Blackhawks were on a powerplay when a giant scrum ensued.  All 12 players on the ice were involved, yet the refs send one guy to the box…Jonathan Toews.  Negating the Blackhawks powerplay.  I could go on and on, but I hate blaming officials for losses.  I don’t think I have ever done it…until today.
  • Frolik was fantastic.  He scored a goal, which is great, but he was dangerous and dynamic all night long.  I have ragged on Frolik in this space repeatedly because he has the worst contract on the team, but he was great last night.  Responsible, active in all three zones, made the simple plays, used his speed.  Terrific game.  Maybe Frolik is just a “playoff guy”.
  • Crawford might be a “playoff guy” too.  I loved Crawford’s game last night with the obvious exception of the OT winner.  That is a shot that Crawford has to come up with, and he said as much in the post-game.  Overall though his angles were solid, his rebound control was there, and he competed hard.  I LOVED him standing up for his teammates and challenging Mike Smith.  Maybe Ray Emery is rubbing off on Corey a little.  I think that really can do a lot for the team going forward.
  • The Hawks have to find a way to be more effective on the powerplay.  There were instances last night where I felt the neutral zone speed and the zone entries were solid, but overall the unit wasn’t effective.  I thought the powerplay had been moving in the right direction, but last night was definitely a step backwards.  Who knows how much Hossa’s presence was missed.
  • Phoenix is trying to slow the game down to a crawl with their trap.  It’s an effective game plan because the Coyotes are a tough team to dump and chase against.  Keith Yandle, Ekman-Larsson, Rosival, Morris, and Klesla are all above average skaters and puck movers.  It’s difficult to get on top of those guys.  The Blackhawks may need to start using a powerplay type break-out to stretch the defense and open things up through the middle.
  • The Blackhawks also need greater net presence.  I honestly believe that Toews’s phantom goaltender interference call made the Blackhawks a little gun-shy going to the net.  They need to shake that off.  Smith plays so deep in his net that the best way to beat him is to shoot and go for screens, tips, and rebounds.  Brunette’s goal last night being the perfect example.
  • Quenville needs to give the 6th defenseman more minutes.  I thought Olsen was very effective in the limited minutes he had(4:56).  The top guys are going to get gassed if they continue to play 30+ minutes per night.  I’d like to see Olsen’s minutes get bumped to between 10-12.
  • Sounds like it’s going to be Saad taking Hossa’s spot in the lineup.  I think that is the right move, but I wouldn’t have minded seeing Morin in that spot either.  Although I am sure Q will try many different combinations, I think Saad is getting the call with the idea that he will be a top 6 forward.  I think he has to play with the most responsible player…Toews.  As much as I like Kane at center, I think the Hossa injury makes a move back to wing necessary.  I would go Saad-Toews-Kane, Sharp-Kruger-Stalberg, Frolik-Bolland-Bickell, Brunette-Mayers-Bollig as the line combos.  If Kruger can’t hack it as the number center, then go 43-19-25, 10-88-15, 67-36-29. 22-16-52
  • I love Toews’s comments both post game and today.  He is fired up.  I think this whole thing will take Toews to Conn Smythe level.  I believe he recognizes that he MUST put the team on his back…and I think he will.
  • There is only one thing left to do….

 

 

 

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The Raffi Torres Hit on Marian Hossa

April 18, 2012 2 comments

I have watched thousands upon thousands of hockey games in my life and I don’t think I have ever been as disturbed by a play as I was last night.  I was at the game and following the puck so I only caught a glimpse of the hit out of the corner of my eye.  Players get injured all the time, but this was different.  I have never seen the team doctor jump on to the ice while the puck was still in play to attend to a player.  The reaction of the Blackhawks’ medical team made my stomach flip.  The bench had the best look at it, and professionals felt compelled to leap on to the ice before the whistle had blown.  Sounds like Hossa will eventually make a full recovery, but this could very well be a career altering hit.  I hope that Hossa is able to eventually come back and play and live the life he was living before last night.  Hossa is one of the good guys.  He is in many ways the perfect hockey player.  He is incredibly talented, hard working, strong, and responsible.  It’s sickening that a dirty player like Torres has threatened Hossa’s career.

Torres and the Coyotes trying to defend this play as a “hockey hit” is repugnant.  “As far as the hit goes, I just felt like it was a hockey play, just trying to finish my hit out there,” said Torres.  That isn’t a hockey hit.  The puck was gone, the player was vulnerable, Torres left his feet, and targeted Hossa’s head.  To make matters worse Jeremy Roenick said “ten years ago that is a good hit“. That just isn’t true.  That type of hit has never had a place in the game. This type of hit isn’t new to the NHL landscape, but they are different in today’s game. The impacts are much more violent.  Players are bigger, stronger, faster, and the game itself is played faster due to some of the rule changes.  It’s a better game than ever, but it is also a more dangerous game.  Players have always gotten hurt in hockey, it’s part of playing the game. What we can’t have is players intentionally injuring their opponents and jeopardizing careers.  There is such a thing as a “hockey hit”, but Torres doesn’t know what that is.  The Dustin Brown hit on Sedin is a perfect example of how to play good hard, clean hockey.

Brown is a guy who plays hard, but plays with respect for rules both written and unwritten.  This play developed similarly to the Torres-Hossa play.  It was in the neutral zone, the puck had been played.  That’s where the similarities end though.  Brown slows up so he doesn’t charge Sedin, he stays on his feet, lowers his shoulder, makes contact with Sedin’s chest, and even follows through low with his hands.  That is perfect hockey.  That is respectful hockey.  That IS hockey.  What Torres did was completely reckless.  Torres’s hit has no place in the game. (The Torres hit was also later, Brown’s was on time).

 

When Torres declined to fight Bollig was forced to jump Torres.  Bollig was appropriately given an instigator penalty for attempting to fight, but Torres escaped without any type of punishment.  Leaving the Blackhawks without their best player and killing a penalty.  The Blackhawks were unable to overcome the aftermath of Torres’s hit on this night.  However, even without Hossa, the Blackhawks are still the more talented team.  They need to continue to play their brand of hockey which relies on speed and puck possession.  If the Blackhawks are able to move forward and avoid being sucked into a series where penalties are high and the pace is slow, then they could still advance.

Game 4 tomorrow at the United Center.

 

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Shaw gets 3 games because Smith flopped hard

April 17, 2012 Leave a comment

(AP)–Chicago Blackhawks rookie forward Andrew Shaw has been suspended for three games for his hit on Phoenix goalie Mike Smith in Game 2 of their opening-round playoff series. Shaw was at a morning practice Tuesday before the suspension was announced, several hours before Game 3 in Chicago. Smith was behind the net going after the puck when Shaw came skating in and his shoulder caught the goaltender in the head, knocking him to the ice. Smith was able to get up after about five minutes and stayed in the game. He did not practice Monday but was at a Tuesday morning skate with his status for Game 3 a game-time decision.

 

Unbelievable.  Brendan Shanahan is just consistently inconsistent.  Andrew Shaw was making a hockey play.  He was going for the puck.  He didn’t change his direction to contact Smith.  He didn’t target the head.  It was incidental contact.  I am in utter disbelief.  How can Shanahan possibly see this play as violent as the Hagelin hit or the Bitz hit.  Shaw barely touched him.

 

Shaw made contact, so he deserved a two-minute minor for goaltender interference.  That’s all. Shanahan has taken this opportunity, of all stages, to set a precedence I guess.  The problem with that is…he already set that precedent with the Milan Lucic hit on Miller in November.

 

Lucic skated full speed at Miller, made no attempt to avoid contact and they threw his elbows at Miller’s head.  Shanahan’s punishment….NOTHING!!! This play probably cost the Sabres a playoff berth.  Miller wasn’t the same for months after this play.  Typical Lucic thuggery.  However Miller, even though he missed time with a concussion, didn’t flail around on the ice.  He didn’t call the training staff over.  He responded to the hit.  Miller acted with honor and toughness so Lucic got nothing.  Smith cries and acts like he has been shot and the refs on the ice, and now the NHL have rewarded him for it.  He said after Game 2 that he was “100%”…I believe him.  So congratulations Shanahan.  You did set a precedent.  Now players get rewarded for embellishment.  They get rewarded for diving, whining, and crying.  Shanahan has opened the door to the soccerfication of the NHL.  Anytime you get hit, just roll around on the ice, skip practice, and let the NHL Office of Supplemental discipline take care of the rest.  Disgraceful. It’s a sad day for hockey.

 

#FreeShawzer

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Hey “Squaks”…relax a bit ok? Bulls fan vs Blackhawks fan rivalry

April 13, 2012 1 comment

I was listening to the Waddle&Silvy show yesterday and they touched on an odd, but very real situation in this town.  The growing rivalry between Blackhawks fans and Bulls fans.  I wrote a blog last week about how I don’t understand the Cubs and White Sox rivalry.  That it makes no sense and that those two franchises in actuality are irrelevant to each other.  The Bulls fans vs Blackhawks fans rivalry makes seemingly even less sense, but it’s one that I completely understand.

I am a hockey guy.  I think anyone who reads this space regularly knows that.  It’s the game I love, the game I played, the game in which I am most emotionally and financially invested.  Conversely…I HATE the NBA.  Having said those two things, the animosity that exists between Blackhawks fans and Bulls fans can laid at the feet of hockey people.  Hockey fans have an inferiority complex towards basketball fans.  Basketball gets more coverage on ESPN, it gets more coverage in the papers, and it gets more coverage on local sports talk radio.  And just when the Blackhawks fans were ready to be the toast of the town in their year as defending Stanley Cup Champs…Derrick Rose has an MVP season and steals all the headlines.  The Blackhawks became somewhat of an after thought, and that rubbed some fans the wrong way.  So they began to lash out at Bulls fans and local media members.  For a sport that prides itself on great toughness, the fans of hockey in Chicago became hyper-sensitive.  And I understand why.

I used to be one of those fans who was bitter about hockey’s place in America’s sports landscape.  It ate at me that the sport which I loved the most was probably the 5th or 6th most popular sport in the country.  I would get angry when some friends would take jabs at the NHL for being on the Outdoor Life Network.  Coming on right after bass fishing and right before rodeo.  But then I read a quote from John Buccigross and those feelings of bitterness, jealousy, and resentment melted away forever.

“I don’t care how popular the NHL is. I love hockey and you love it and that’s enough for me. It’s a beautiful, addictive game that is immune to extinction. It’s a way of life in Canada and it’s growing in the United States. It is the most intimate of games because it is the most emotional. The “smallness” of the game is its strength. The humility of most of the players, the bond that is found in every rink in North America and the sheer joy of skating on open, clean ice — that’s what makes hockey special.”-John Buccigross  

This quote gave me an epiphany.  All at once I realized that a) just because basketball is a more popular sports, doesn’t mean it’s a better sport b) There has never been a better time in history to be a hockey fan. Between NBC, NHL Network, and NBC Sports, you could see as many as four nationally televised games per week in addition to the Blackhawks.  The game is filled with compelling stars.  I have argued in this space that literally every single team has at least one player who is worth the price of admission.  c) If you know where to look online, there is FANTASTIC hockey coverage. And d) I realized that I don’t want local radio people talking hockey.  I love the Waddle&Silvy show.  I think they are great, but honestly I get annoyed when Jesse Rogers comes on and they try to talk hockey.  I appreciate all sports, so while I am glad that people like Waddle&Silvy are open to hockey, and don’t dismiss it, I’d rather just have them stick to what they know because that makes for better radio.  I’ll get my hockey fix elsewhere.

I will always be an advocate for hockey because I feel it is the greatest sport.  I will patiently give Hockey 101(or even 097) classes to anyone who wants to learn.  However, I will no longer argue for the game of hockey.  It’s not for everyone.  Not everyone sees what we see.  People can love it with all their soul, or be a casual fan in the playoffs, or not like it at all.  I don’t care.  Hockey isn’t for everyone.  That’s what makes it special.  I feel bad for the people who don’t see what we see, because they are missing out on something truly special.  The Bulls and NBA getting more coverage doesn’t make our game less special.  So relax, enjoy the game because YOU love it.  That really is enough.

PS: For the record, I do LOVE basketball…I just hate the NBA.  The Bulls are one of three teams in the league that I actually respect.  The others being Oklahoma City Thunder and the Boston Celtics.  They are humble, they play hard, and they play together.  It’s why I have no problem celebrating Bulls wins.  I am not a real Bulls fan by my own sports standards, but I will drive the #BullsBandWagon 100 MPH right into Lebron’s giant balding head.

Blackhawks vs Coyotes Game One Recap

April 13, 2012 Leave a comment

 

This is going to be a quick recap.  Free form. Don’t think, just write.

 

  • Welcome back Toews.  Toews was arguably the Hawks best player in game one.  He was good in battles.  Had 2 points.  Went to hard areas.  The only part of his game that looked rusty was his faceoffs.  Toews is normally the best in the league, and he didn’t have the success he is used to last night.
  • The Coyotes first goal was absolute bullshit.  A blown too many men call led to the first goal.  What makes it even worse was that the puck would have cleared the zone, probably allowing the tired Hawks to change if the Coyotes chose not to play that puck.  Hawks deserve some blame for that goal as well.  Hjalmersson was a turnover machine in that one.
  • The Coyotes second goal was a laser shot, but it never should have happened.  Stalberg can’t just skate back watching the puck.  He has to pick up the trailer.  Mental lapse cost the Hawks the game.
  • The Blackhawks special teams looked solid.  They went 0-4 on the powerplay, but that doesn’t tell the whole story.  The zone entries were good.  Puck movement was good.  Got a few scoring chances. Won some battles to keep puck possession.  A lot to like going forward.  Next step is to capitalize.  The powerplay has been awful this year, but that type of talent can’t be bad forever. Here is hoping they have taken a step in the right direction
  • I think Sean O’Donnell needs to sit.  I know he is the old grizzled vet.  Whatever.  They can’t afford to have a defenseman play only 10 minutes and still be a -2.  Dylan Olsen has shown real promise at times this year.  I think his skating and physical presence will help Hawks as they got badly out hit in game one.  Nay-sayers will point out that Olsen has no playoff experience…well you can’t get playoff experience until someone gives you a chance.  I think he is the better option at this point.
  • The Blackhawks have to have better net presence in game 2.  Mike Smith was far too comfortable in goal.  He plays so deep in his net that long shots, tips, screens, and bad angle shots will be even more important than normal.  The Hawks are going to need more ugly goals to beat the Coyotes. I am advocating another youthful player be inserted into the lineup.  Jimmy Hayes needs to dress instead of Bruno.  I like Bruno but he doesn’t bring enough to the table.  Especially in a 4th line role.
  • I think sex line needs to be broken up too. Sharp-Kruger-Stalberg just wasn’t effective enough.  That has been a strong line down the stretch, but now the Hawks are full strength up front and need to balance their scoring a little.
  • I would move Kane back to center.  Play him with Hossa and either Stalberg, Kruger, or Hayes on the other wing.  Kruger really struggled on draws and he and Kane had similar levels of success in the regular season on the dot.  Kane is just a much more dynamic player at center.  He gets the puck more, he has more space, more options, and he is a responsible player(+7 on the season on a bad defensive team when he himself wasn’t scoring like normal) despite what haters say about him.  My lines for Game 2 would be Sharp-Toews-Stalberg, Hayes-Kane-Hossa, Bickell-Bolland-Shaw, Mayers-Kruger-Bollig.  I would slide Kruger up and down the line up though until I found a line that works.
  • Crawford was pretty solid.  Looked a little leaky early, but found his game quickly.  Crawford wasn’t challenged often, but made big saves when he had to.  Hard to put any of the blame for Phoenix’s goals on Crow.  Played well enough to win.

All in all…not the end of the world.  Hawks controlled the play and Toews showed that he is healthy and a top 5 player in the game.  Phoenix has home ice and those guys get paid too.  A few adjustments and the Hawks should be fine going forward.  I will stick with my prediction from the podcast of Hawks in 6, and I still like their chances to come out of the West.

 

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NHL PLAYOFFS!!!! AHHHH

April 11, 2012 Leave a comment

The Stanley Cup Playoffs are here!!! Best day of the year because it kicks off the best tournament in sports.  These two commercials warm my heart and send chills down my spine.  I am so fired up.  The clicker is going to get worn out over the next two months switching between NBC, NBC Sports, NHL Network, and CNBC.  First time ever that every single playoff game will be Nationally Televised.  For a full preview of the Stanley Cup Playoffs you can listen to the Windy Citizen Sports Podcast here: http://windycitizensportscast.posterous.com/episode-1

PS: I couldn’t sleep last night.  Felt like Christmas Eve…#BecauseItsTheCup

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Windy Citizen Sportscast: Episode 1–NHL Playoff Preview

Hey All-

Had some trouble uploading to wordpress…but we set up a posterous site where you can listen to the first episode…here it is:

http://windycitizensportscast.posterous.com/episode-1

LISTEN NOW

Note: Working out some technical kinks…analysis and predictions are hot fire though.

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