Chicago Blackhawks, Kevin Hayes win Kevin Hayes sweepstakes

Former Chicago Blackhawks prospect Kevin Hayes

The Chicago Blackhawks are the latest team to gain a draft pick by losing one. Over the weekend, the time period to sign 2010 1st round draft pick Kevin Hayes ended with no resolution. Therefore, Hayes is allowed to sign anywhere he wants.

Good for Hayes and good for the Chicago Blackhawks.

Kevin Hayes has every right to bet on himself. He is also allowed to do so based on the NHL’s collective bargaining agreement. Hayes is allowed as a college-bound and graduated player to either sign with the team that took the chance on drafting him, or waits out the time period allotted to sign with another team.

Kevin Hayes is now allowed to sign an entry-level contract with whomever he feels gives to the best chance to play. Winning may not be high on his list of reasons to sign with a team considering two of the favorites to sign Hayes are the Calgary Flames and Colorado Avalanche. Calgary appears poised for a run at the first overall draft pick in 2015 and Colorado should regress in the arguably the best division in the NHL. [Read more…]

2013 NHL Season Predictions and Projections

 

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Finally, after months and months of everyone involved being morons, causing 113 days, 625 games, and the biggest outdoor hockey game in history to be cancelled, hockey fans can finally say “Game On!”  The NHL has a new 10-year labor agreement, and is set to start the shortened, 48 game 2013 season on Saturday, January 19.  Find out what you need to know about every team in the NHL for the upcoming season, this time predicting how the season will play out, and who will be in the playoffs.  Continue after the jump to find out where your team will finish in the race for the Stanley Cup, including who will take home Lord Stanley’s Cup.

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2013 NHL Western Conference Preview And Projections

 

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Finally, after months and months of everyone involved being morons, causing 113 days, 625 games, and the biggest outdoor hockey game in history to be cancelled, hockey fans can finally say “Game On!”  The NHL has a new 10-year labor agreement, and is set to start the shortened, 48 game 2013 season on Saturday, January 19.  Find out what you need to know about every team in the NHL for the upcoming season, this time featuring the Western Conference.  Continue after the jump to find out where your team will finish in the race for a playoff spot out west.

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Send in the Clowns: Blackhawks Circus Trip Preview

Even though the Bulls, the Chicago Blackhawks’ usual co-tenant of the United Center, are currently locked out as NBA owners and players haggle over who will get a bigger piece of the money pie, the Hawks will still be kicked out of the arena for the next several weeks as the circus comes to town. The annual circus trip has always been a make or break proposition for the Hawks, and this year’s western trip is no exception.

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2011-12 NHL Northwest Division Rankings and Fantansy Projections

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The 2011-12 NHL season is already under way, and the action on the ice is already heating up.  After a summer filled with lots of on and off ice movement, but also  much  tragedy, the hockey world looks towards a new quest toward Lord Stanley’s Cup.  How do the teams in each division compare to one another?  Who will be the big fantasy players this season?  We take a division by division look at the 2011-12 NHL season.   Let’s take a look at the Northwest Division after the jump.

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Who has the Most Accurate NHL Mock Draft?

2011 nhl draft the sports bank hockey

When it comes to grading a mock draft? You can do that as soon as the draft ends. And one website, DC Pro Sports Report, has done just that. They ranked every single NHL mock on the web, and take a look at who the #1 non-Canadian is.

Here are your TOP THREE:

1.  Adam Kimelman, NHL.com – 7 Correct

2.  Franchise Montreal (Rick Springhetti) – 6 Correct

3.  The Sports Bank – 5 Correct

Like I’ve said before, The Sports Bank is the only independently owned, non-corporate sports media site that has a mock draft for all of the four biggest sports team leagues. And we had the most accurate hockey mock draft among all American mock draftniks.

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2011 Mock NHL Draft (Draft Day Edition)

 

 

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2011 MOCK NHL ENTRY DRAFT (Draft Day Edition)


The day is finally here!  The 2011 NHL Entry Draft is tonight, live from the Xcel Energy Center in the heart of St. Paul, Minnesota.  Thursday saw the start of what could be the first of many big time deals to come, when the Philadelphia Flyers made multiple trades to reshape their roster and create cap space to sign Ilya Bryzgalov to a huge contract.  I will be on hand to see all the picks go down, as well as all the deals that will go down while teams are on the clock.  Who will go where?  Who else will make a bold move like the Flyers, Kings, and Blue Jackets?  Find out with the final mock NHL draft from The Sports Bank.  For all the first round picks, click on through past the jump.

 

Bryan Vickroy

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Blackhawks Face Much Bigger Challenge in 2nd Round

By Paul M. Banks

In their 54th all-time Stanley Cup Playoff appearance, the Chicago Blackhawks advanced to the Western Conference Semifinals 4-2 where they’ll meet the 3rd seeded Vancouver Canucks. If that 54 sounds super-high, remember that the Hawks are one of the NHL’s original six franchises. This series will be the third all-time Stanley Cup Playoff meeting between the Blackhawks and Canucks, with each club taking one series. The Blackhawks swept the Canucks 4-0 in the 1995 Western Conference Semifinals. Vancouver earned a 4-1 triumph over Chicago in the 1982 Campbell Conference (Younger readers may not remember the old names NHL divisions and conferences once had) Finals.

The Blackhawks have ruled Canada like Prime Minister Stephen Harper this season, owning a 15-5 record (including playoffs) versus Canadian teams this season. But this round will provide a much bigger challenge than Calgary did in the first round. Chicago and Vancouver split the four game regular-season series. The Blackhawks won the first two meetings (Oct. 19 at United Center, Dec. 20 at General Motors Place), before dropping the final two match-ups (Feb. 7 at GM Place and March 29 at the UC).

When Canucks opponents visit General Motors Place, they often find their offensive game plans to be as valuable as GM stock. That’s because the 26-12-5 at home Canucks feature Roberto Luongo, one of the hottest goalies in the game. Loungo posted a 4-0 record in Round One with a lights-out 1.15 GAA and .962 save percentage against St. Louis. He also netted his first career playoff shutout in Game 2. The last time he faced the Hawks, he registered a 26 save shutout. Key to this series will be the play of Blackhawks rookie Left Wing Kris Versteeg, because “Steeger” led the Hawks with 5 points in the season series with the Canucks. “We try to keep it simple and play within our limit and let the guys like {Martin} Havlat do their thin, and just try to play hard every night,” Versteeg said.

The Hawks currently have the dubious distinction of the longest Cup drought in the NHL. 1961 was the last time they drank from the Cup; supplementing their championships in 1934 and 1938.

Kris Versteeg Latest of Young Hawks Stars to Emerge

By Paul M. Banks

The rise of the Chicago Blackhawks franchise from obscurity to fan and media darling has been well documented. But there’s another (and even more positive ) story that also needs to be told. As bright as the present currently is, the future looks even better. The team’s leaders are a very young core of players whose best days are likely still in front of them. The most recent player to emerge is speedy left winger Kris Versteeg, one of three finalists for the 2009 Calder Trophy, given out annually to the league’s top rookie.

Great at both ends of the ice, Versteeg has the chance to become the ninth Chicago player in team history to be awarded the Calder Trophy and joins teammates Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews as the third Blackhawk in the last two seasons voted a Calder Trophy finalist.

Versteeg led all NHL rookies with 31 assists as part of a youthful nucleus that’s set to meet the Vancouver Canucks in the Western Conference semi-finals. His four shorthanded goals (or “shorties”) were also tops among League rookies and fourth overall. “Playing on this team we’re exciting, we play hard for each other and Kane and Toews, they’ve kind of been through it before and they know what it takes to do it,” Versteeg said.

Patrick Kane captured the honor last season. Other past Blackhawks to earn the award are: Mike Karakas (1936), Carl Dahlstrom (1938), Ed Litzenberger (1955), William Hay (1960), Tony Esposito (1970), Steve Larmer (1983) and Ed Belfour (1991). “It’s been huge just to be nominated for it,” Versteeg stated. The winner announced June 18th. The other two finalists for the award:

-Steve Mason, Columbus Blue Jackets. Named the NHL’s Rookie of the Month for both November and December, he accomplished a four-game winning streak where he stopped 94 of 95 shots. As Columbus captured the first playoff berth in franchise history, Mason’s 10 shutouts led the League and his 2.29 goals against average was second only to Boston’s Tim Thomas (2.10).

The second overall selection in the 2005 Draft, Ryan led all rookies with 31 goals and 57 points in just 64 games. Ryan earned Rookie of the Month honors for January with 11 goals and five assists in 14 games.

Blackhawks-Flames Random Notes

By Paul M. Banks

-Why does Jim Belushi have to be at everything Chicago sports related? (It now extends over into the Illini and SIU Salukis as well) For some odd reason (or should I say lack of reason) he appeared in a collection of Chicago “celebs” honoring the Blackhawks playoff appearance on the jumbotron at Game 1. He was rightfully booed. We need to extinguish him.

-Or at least add him to next year’s douchebracket.

-Games 3, 4, and 6 in Calgary reminded me of Rocky IV, when he goes to Moscow to fight Drago in his home land: lots of loud, hostile people wearing red in a foreign country…Then again returning home for game five and seeing all the red jerseys and red towels in Chicago, made the United Center also look like a Communist party rally in Red Square.

-The Chicago Tribune’s Shannon Ryan was at all 7 of the games/press conferences that I attended these past couple weeks. So maybe her job isn’t as fun and glamorous as you might think it is. After all you have to spend a fair amount of time in the same places as me.

-Remember when I talked about the huge Indian head logo on the floor of the Blackhawks locker room a few months ago? How it is believed that anyone who steps on it, will be eternally cursed for doing so? Because of the added media attention of the playoffs, they roped it off. Now it is safe.

-Joke I’m running into the ground this week

People ask me “How’s the playoff atmosphere?” and I respond “it’s electric……boogie woogie woogie”

-Rhyming Heckle of the week

“Hey Phaneuf, Sean Avery told the truth” –guy in 300 level of United Center in game 5.”

-With Todd Bertuzzi and Mike Keenan, maybe the Flames should go ahead and sign Sean Avery and (bring Marty McSorley out of retirement too) then we could have all the biggest knobs in the league on one team.

Alberta Clipped

Watching games 3 and 4 in Calgary on tv, we all noticed the C of Red. But did you notice how EVERYONE at the Olympic Saddledome has a jersey on, never a shirt o sweatshirt? And it’s only the current red jerseys, never the other colored jerseys or throwbacks- amazing how they got everyone to conform to that!

-What I learned from chatting with other sports journalists this week

No one cares about spring college football even though coverage of it has grown exponentially this week, and Chicago is ten times more interested in the Blackhawks playoff run than they are in the Bulls postseason. People just don’t seem to care too much about the Bulls here. Oh and we realistically may not have a newspaper here in ten years. A more detailed explanation on all these things in the next edition of Week in Review

Don’t Toews Calgary Bro

By Paul M. Banks

The last time the Chicago Blackhawks won a playoff series in 1996, it was a first round triumph over the Calgary Flames. If history repeats itself in 2009, the series MVP could likely be Hawks Center Jonathan Toews, who was 8 years old back then. He was born the same year the Flames’ home arena, the Pengrowth Saddledome hosted Winter Olympic hockey in 1988. With 5 points (2 goals, 3 assists) team captain Toews is leading the Hawks in scoring this postseason.

When Flames Coach Mike Keenan prepares for the next playoff game versus Chicago, his game plan obviously centers around stopping the young all-star. He could tell his players “Don’t Toews me, bro,” paraphrasing one of pop culture’s most famous quotes of 2007. “As a team we feel that if we do things the right way, the chips will fall our way and things will happen for us, so we don’t need to get too worked up,” Toews said regarding his team’s outlook on the series.

Toews, the second overall pick in 2006 and Patrick Kane (last year’s Rookie of the Year and 2007 overall number one draft choice) are the dual faces of the rejuvenated franchise. However, Toews has a few things on Kane that make him the team’s true signature player: his captaincy status and the added responsibilities of increased media and community visibility that come with it. With the postseason’s added spotlight, he’s out-playing Kane, who has one point in the series and missed game three with the flu.  The Toews #19 jersey is arguably the most popular red, black or white sweater you’ll see at the United Center.

The player nicknamed Taser spoke about the fans’ overwhelming support this postseason. “They were definitely behind us and gave us that extra step. There’s some tough shifts where you’re working out of your own zone and the legs get tired, but you battle through it and the crowd definitely gives you that extra adrenaline push to keep going through it,” Toews said.

And Toews’ teammates respect and admire his locker room leadership. The Hawks second leading scorer in this series, Patrick Sharp re-affirmed what the media has been writing about Taser. “You guys are saying it already, he’s a pretty big player for us, there was talk in the early part of the season when he wasn’t scoring, he kind of shook that off and you see the way he’s playing now, scoring big goals for us, and he’s done it his whole career.”

Blackhawks Playoff Series Getting Chippy, Punchy

By Paul M. Banks

Since the opening face off, the Chicago Blackhawks first round playoff series with the Calgary Flames has been a very physical one. Game one contained lots of good solid checking, but it didn’t have all the punches of games two and three. Monday night’s loss in Calgary saw even more checks get cashed in the currency of pushes, shoves and punches.

Downright dirty and nasty, if these series trends continue maybe we’ll see Ken Shamrock or Oscar de la Hoya on skates in game six. Usually the postseason brings less fighting than the regular season because teams don’t want to risk obtaining dumb penalties within tight playoff games, but emotion has taken over for logic at certain points of this series so far.

And since game three was a little more lopsided down the stretch than the first two, the physicality was ramped up even further.

Hawks defenseman (or “defenceman” in Canadian English) Duncan Keith sees the physical quotient increasing as the series goes on. “Every game’s going to be tougher and tougher that’s the mentality you have to have. Naturally, the more times you play a team, the more issues, whatever you want to call it, you’re going to have against guys out there. Obviously, they’re trying to key on certain guys on our team, and we’re trying to hit them as much as we can as well,” Keith stated.

Both teams combined earned 5 penalties for 12 minutes in game one. The second game total jumped to 9 infractions- 18 minutes while game 3 at the Saddle Dome saw a whopping 13 penalties for 86 minutes combined!

The Hawks lead the series 2-1 and in order to maintain control, they must keep a cool head when considering possible retaliation against the Flames. “It’s something we’ve talked about in here. We try to play as hard as we can whistle-to-whistle and be in their face as much as they’re in ours without taking penalties. Discipline is a huge part of the game in the playoffs and that’s something we’re addressing,” said Hawks forward Patrick Sharp.

As this series between the 1988 Winter Olympic host city and a 2016 Summer Olympic bid city progresses, expect the skills and fundamentals inherent to a few Olympic events (boxing, wrestling, possibly tae kwon do) to play a significant role.