Blackhawks Captain Jonathan Toews CHECKS 10 Year Old Kid (Video)

don't_toews_me_bro

Wow, this is your captain Jonathan Toews speaking. The leader of your Chicago Blackhawks totally flattens this poor kid in the middle of this youth hockey camp. I love how the television reporter is just so blase about this shoulder check.

Please Tazer don’t hurt ’em. Toews wasn’t trying to kill the kid, and obviously he went easy on the kid, but HE’S TEN! WTF?!

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Blackhawks Bits: Stanley Cup Finals Edition!

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The Chicago Blackhawks will compete in the Stanley Cup Finals for the first time since 1992, and the 11th time overall in franchise history.

-In winning Games 1 and 2 in San Jose, the Blackhawks extended their postseason road win streak to seven games, tying the NHL record.  It is the most road wins overall in a single postseason for Chicago.

-22-year old Jonathan Toews leads the NHL with 26 points (7G,19A) in the 2010 Stanley Cup Playoffs. The captain has registered 25 points (7G,18A) during his current 13-game point streak, the longest in franchise history in the postseason.

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Blackhawks Big 2 (Kane, Toews) Control Game 2

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It was the Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane show during the Chicago Blackhawks 4-2 game 2 victory at San Jose. The Hawks’ two most iconic players zipped around the ice in Silicon Valley like an Intel core i7 processor. And pretty soon, they could make the San Jose Sharks as outdated and useless as a 286 CPU. (Apologies for the tech nerd metaphors, hey, when in San Jose). Two is indeed a magic number, as Chicago has two down, and two to go to reach their first Stanley Cup Final since ’92. The big two, and their coach, the Q Stache had a lot to say about last nights game 2 victory

–Paul M. Banks

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Familiarity breeds contempt in Hawks-Sharks Series

sharks game intro

By Paul M. Banks

In two days, the Chicago Blackhawks will start their battle with the San Jose Sharks for Western Conference supremacy. And when the gauntlet is thrown down, there will be lots of commonalities and bonds between the two warring factions. Here are a few ties that bind:


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I actually started “Don’t Toews me Bro”

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By Paul M. Banks

As the Chicago Blackhawks took a commanding 3-1 series lead over the Vancouver Canucks Friday night, all eyes were on “Captain Serious” Jonathan Toews. “Taser” had 3 goals and 2 assists Friday night, leading the Hawks to a HUGE 7-4 win over Vancouver. So as everyone in the second city deems Toews the new local deity, you’ll hear a lot of people using the phrase “Don’t Toews me bro.” Therefore, I need to remind everyone who first published these four words.

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Busting Hockey’s #1 Myth: Unpronouncable Names

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By Peter Christian

Every hockey fan has heard it at least once. Most have heard it a handful of times. The “it” I’m referring to is the lamest excuse to not watch the NHL on the planet.

It’s the “I can’t pronounce the player’s names” excuse. I’ve heard it everywhere. From family members who watched me grow up playing the sport to national sports figures and writers who are just to lazy to get involved. The excuse has spread its talons so deep into the sports culture that it has become more than an excuse, people actually think its true. There are sports fans out there who actually think that nearly every player in the NHL has a name that is a facial workout just to say. Except for one tiny fact: It’s a myth.

Yep, the whole thing is a big fallacy.

pronounced Asso-Mu-WAH

The names in hockey aren’t any tougher than any other professional sport in North America. Not when you consider that names like Favre, Ginobili, Nowitzki, Nnamdi Asomugha and Daisuke Matsuzaka have become easily pronounced in the other sports. The problem however is that NHL was one of the first leagues to truly welcome international players into its teams. The league expanded and so did the search for talent in Europe which meant that the NHL faced an influx of players with Northern and Eastern European backgrounds. Russian, Czech and Finnish players seem to sport the most difficult names to initially pronounce but just as with any name, a closer look is usually all it takes. Take a name like Ilya Bryzgalov. At first glance that looks like a mouthful of consonants. But a second look shows that it really isn’t that hard (Ill-Yah Brizz-GAL-off) to pronounce at all and after a little practice it simply rolls off the tongue. In fact that is the case with nearly every European name in the NHL (with the exception of Zybnek Michalek… that one takes some work).

pronounced tayves

That doesn’t mean there aren’t names that are truly tough to pronounce (even after seeing them spelled out) or make you scratch your head altogether, but those names largely belong to North American players. Names like Stastny (Stas-NEE), Toews (Taves), Phaneuf (Fah-NOOF), Bouwmeester (BO-Mee-ster) and my personal favorite Byfuglien (BUFF-linn) nearly always take someone else to pronounce them the first couple times so you can remember them. So if those names are from within our own borders or from our neighbors to the North, there’s no reason we can’t learn their names’ right? I mean we put up with a guy from Mississippi who pronounces his name FARVE but spells it FAVRE, don’t we?

So I think it’s time to put this whole name pronunciation thing to rest so that we puck heads can start focusing on the real reasons all you other folks don’t watch the most entertaining sport in the world.

You can also find Peter Christian’s “Rink Rat’s Cheese” blog at The Washington Times Communities

Mixed Reviews on Blackhawks Moves

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By Paul M. Banks

It’s the 4th of July, ready for some hockey? It’s time to celebrate America’s Birthday by vivisecting the roster decisions made by one of the premier franchises in Canada’s national game. On July 1st, “Canada Day” or their version of Independence Day the Hawks made the biggest headlines in the NHL as the league officially opened its free agency period. I wanted to see what they did the rest of the week before analyzing their personnel moves- because nothing in life happens in a vacuum.

The Losses:

Leaving the Chicago Blackawks were winger Martin Havlat, who collected a six-year, $30 million deal from the Minnesota Wild. Havlat, who led the Hawks in scoring last season with 29 goals and 48 assists and was one of the most crucial players in the long playoff run, left on (possibly) somewhat bitter terms, as evidenced by his tweets on Wednesday night:
“Excited to be in Minny where I was welcomed and appreciated by management,” Havlat

“The real story about what happened in Chicago [will] come out.”

“There’s something to be said for loyalty and honor.”

Stay tuned. Havlat has one of the best “following to followers ratio” I’ve ever seen: 12 to 7,832. Also among the departed were veteran goaltender Nikolai Khabibulin (Edmonton, four years and $15 million), center Sammy Pahlsson (Columbus, 3 years $7.95 million) and defenceman Matt Walker (Tampa Bay, 4 years $6.8 million).

The departing of the Bulin Wall was probably inevitable ever since the Cristobal Huet signing. However, Khabi played his best hockey by far this winter once he had somebody solid competing with him for playing time. ’08-’09 was his best season by far in a Hawks uniform, and despite the many outstanding performances he gave in the postseason this spring, he never really lived up to expectations in Chicago. He wasn’t bad, it’s just that he had the richest goalie contract in NHL history, therefore he had a lot to live up to. khabibulin2
Pahlsson is a decent role player who will be replaced through the farm system or perhaps a free agent signing. Matt Walker, no he’s not the drummer from Filter who later joined the Smashing Pumpkins, is a serviceable but not spectacular blue-liner who may find more minutes in Tampa.

The Additions:

The Hawks signed two-time Stanley Cup Champion and 10-year National Hockey League center John Madden to a one-year contract. No, this isn’t the fat, annoying, loud, still-wondering-why-he-has-a-job-on-television football broadcaster who loves Mexican food and only travels by bus.

Madden, 36, has spent his entire career with the New Jersey Devils, helping the organization reach the Stanley Cup Playoffs in each of the last nine seasons.  He has recorded 297 points (140G, 157A) in 712 career regular-season games and 41 points (20G, 21A) in 112 playoff contests which includes capturing the Stanley Cup in 2000 and 2003.

“John is a proven winner and one of the premier defensive forwards in the game who also has the talent to contribute with timely offense as well,” Blackhawks General Manager Dale Tallon said. “Adding his experience to our team is an important piece to the puzzle.” Madden holds New Jersey’s franchise record with 17 shorthanded goals.

The Barrie, Ontario native captured the Frank J. Selke Trophy in 2001, given annually to the National Hockey League’s best defensive forward, and was the runner-up for the award in 2003, 2004, and 2008.  At the University of Michigan, he won a National Championship in 1996

But the big prize was right wing Marian Hossa, even though I find the 12 year contract to be more than a bit extravagant. redwings2

“To add Marian, an elite and world-class player, and Tomas, a Stanley Cup Champion, to our exciting young core reinforces our commitment to try to win the Stanley Cup,” Blackhawks General Manager Dale Tallon said. Last season, Hossa, 30, led the Red Wings in goals (40) and finished third in points (71) during the regular season before chipping in 15 points (6G, 9A) while appearing in all 23 Stanley Cup Playoff games. Following the regular season, he was named to the 2008-09 NHL Second All-Star Team. The Trencin, Slovakia native is also a four-time NHL All-Star.

Hossa is (somewhat dubiously) known as the guy who played on the Stanley Cup runner-up team the past two seasons. This “feat” is newsworthy when you consider you had the same two teams (Detroit Red Wings and Pittsburgh Penguins) playing each other both years, and a different team one each time.

The Hawks also snatched away from Detroit center Tomas Kopecky (TAW-mahsh, koh-PEHTS-kee) He finished second on the team with 109 hits while posting career highs with six goals, 13 assists and 19 points in 79 regular season games.

I can’t approve of the 12 year deal for Hossa, even though it’s really cool that they signed the top scorer away from their hated rivals.  Like Jerry Seinfeld said “in sports, you’re rooting for clothes.” In the shell game and zero sum game that is the NHL roster under the salary cap I have a feeling that this deal could lead to the departure of someone in the young nucleus Patrick Kane, Jonathan Toews, Duncan Keith down the line. That would be just plain awful. Still signing Hossa is “kind of a big deal.” Losing Havlat is too. As for Khabi, the question of whether or not it was right or not to let him go, can only be answered by one man- Cristobal Huet. And how he performs…well, it’s all in his head.

But I don’t think the Hawks are done dealing yet- And I have a feeling the next signing will be a defenseman. The same position they focused their draft on. So don’t judge the +/- of this offseason just yet.

Dale Tallon: Architect of Blackhawks Success

By Paul M. Banks

Heading into 2008-09, the season of Chicago Blackhawks renaissance, it was thought in certain circles that Hawks General Manager Dale Tallon could be on the way out.

Tallon was more Bill Wirtz’s guy than he was Rocky Wirtz’s guy. After NHL coaching legend Scotty Bowman joined the Hawks organization (pronounced “organ-I-zation” in Canadian English) as Senior Advisor of Hockey Operations, rumors swirled that Tallon might be replaced by Bowman’s son, assistant GM of Hockey Operations, Stan Bowman.

Today however, Tallon is sitting pretty as the blueprint for success he drafted has guided the Hawks much further along the postseason path than anyone expected. After advancing to their first Conference Final since 1995, (where they’re currently down 2-1 to the Detroit Red Wings), Tallon spoke about his team, the youngest in the league, climbing the ladder much faster than expected.

“The sooner the better is fine with me. I don’t want to wait any longer, it’s been fun and I’m proud of these kids, this is the greatest group of kids I’ve been around; on and off the ice,” Tallon said.

Tallon’s first season as GM was tumultuous. After the 2004–05 NHL season was canceled due to labor issues, a new collective bargaining agreement was signed. This created a new financial structure and many rule changes intended to yield higher scoring games. In response, Tallon reshaped the team, but most of his free agents never panned out and the Hawks finished 14th in the 15-team Western Conference.

However, since then he turned the Blackhawk franchise around (the Hawks are the only team in the NHL to improve their win total each of the past four years) by drafting young talents Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane and also acquiring stars Patrick Sharp and Kris Versteeg. Tallon recently spoke about the traits possessed by his young nucleus. “Their impeccable character- they’re beyond their years as far as composure and intelligence…they’re way ahead of their time as far the mental aspect of it, their maturity impresses me,” Tallon said before later commenting on his team’s versatility:

“This is a team that can play any style, it you want to play it tough, we’ll play it tough, if you want to play speed, up-tempo, we’ll do that too. I think people underestimate how strong and resilient these kids are.” Chicago’s deep playoff run has been great for hockey ratings on television, and the NHL could certainly use this boost. Perhaps the Blackhawks’ rebirth, led in part by the young stars Dale Tallon drafted, will help improve the league’s damaged Q rating. Tallon spoke about the plethora of current young NHL stars.

“As hockey fans we’re in a great era right now. You see Crosby perform and Ovechkin and Malkin, and you see Backstrom in Washington and everyday we get to see Kane and Toews and don’t forget we’ve got some other young guys in Bolland, Brouwer, and Byfuglien, you can go down the list…we’re very fortunate in this era to be able to witness such young players excel at such a young age,” Tallon stated.

See more of Paul M. Banks’ work at the Washington Times, Walter Football.com and The Sports Bank

Blackhawks-Canucks Series: Even Strength So Far

By Paul M. Banks

With the Chicago Blackhawks capturing the city’s heart this season, numerous second city citizens who previously ignored hockey are now finding themselves to be experts on the sport’s terminology. “Even Strength” is the term used to describe the portion of the game when both teams have the same number of attackers on the ice. It’s also the perfect way to describe the Hawks match-up with the Vancouver Canucks in. The statistics for the best of seven series, which Vancouver now leads 2-1, are remarkably even.

Vancouver has the edge in total goals by just one, Vancouver has committed only two more penalties than Chicago, and both teams have exactly 13 penalty kills in this series.

Each team even has a home venue (United Center and General Motors Place) named by a transportation corporation recently in or headed towards bankruptcy protection.

Vancouver defenseman Ossi Vaananeen spoke highly regarding the fundamentals of the team currently battling his squad so tightly. “They’ve played well, in a tough division. They have good power play, good special teams, they scored a lot of even strength goals, they had more points than us this year,” Vaananeen said.

An even Steven series should have been expected when considering how the regular season went. Just 3 points and one win separated the two clubs in the 2008-09 standings. The two teams also tied for exactly 88 points in 2007-08. Even though the Hawks were the better team during the regular season, they now must win Thursday, if they are to have a realistic shot at winning the series. Hawks captain Jonathan Toews spoke about some things Chicago must improve. “I think we need to start chipping away and moving out feet to start wearing them down next time,” Toews said in reference to the Hawks falling behind in each game of the series. The way things are going, it will likely take a 7th game (and probably and overtime shootout) to decide this Western Conference semifinal.

Hawks-Canucks Playoffs on Big Hair Hockey Talk Show

The Big Hair Hockey Talk Show had me on a guest panelist for their Chicago Blackhawks/Vancouver Canucks preview on Sunday. You can listen to it here. And also check out The Hockey Chics blog here

It’s panel discussion time again on the Big Hair Hockey Talk Show. Joining us is Canucks Hockey Blog writer, JJ Guerrero (http://www.canuckshockeyblog.com). Also joining us Paul Banks from The Sports Bank.Net (http://www.sportsbank.net) who is also an NBC Chicago Sports.com writer and Matthew who writes for Second City Hockey, an SB Nation blog (http://www.secondcityhockey.net).

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 Experiencing a Very Physical Series

By Paul M. Banks

There’s one aspect of the game of hockey that makes the athletic achievements of the players all the more impressive: Most of the time, hockey players must perform their tasks aware that a giant Russian or Canadian man is speeding towards them on skates with the intent to kill them. Well, not literally kill them, but hockey is an extremely physical game and the seek-and-destroy physicality often takes on an added dimension during the emotionally charged Stanley Cup playoffs.

The Hawks best-of-seven series with the Calgary Flames got off to a happy start (they won 3-2 in OT) but also a very physical one. As the Hawks continue battling against one of their former coaches in Mike Keenan, expect an emotionally charged series against a bench boss nicknamed “Iron Mike” (yes, just like “Da Coach” Ditka) due to his tough, hard-line attitude. And he instills these values into his players. Star right wing and captain Jarome Iginla concurred:

“We do pride ourselves on that side of it and enjoy that physical contact and the battles and it seems that they do too. So it’ll be a fun series. I think it will get more physical, they’re a young team and they compete hard, we like to play that way too,” Iginla said.

As you watch this series, expect more checks than a heavy spending consumer with maxed out credit and no cash flow. I asked Hawks captain Jonathan Toews if there was more cross-checking, fore-checking and general physicality in this game than during their regular season meetings.

“I think so, for sure. I think it’s just the way it is in the playoffs, doesn’t matter who you play, they want to separate you from the puck and play with extra energy, they did that tonight and so did we, and I still think its something we can improve upon,” Toews responded. I posed a similar question to Hawks coach Joel Quenneville.

“I think we’re both respectful for what the opposition can do be it off-the-rush or with the puck offensively, so recognizing that you got to selective when you hit, you don’t want to go chase or run out of position because then you’re vulnerable. I just thought there were some good hits and you think you just gotta play the score and the time and you gotta be respectful to special teams and drawing yourself out of position,” Quenneville answered.