Posted on: March 3, 2011 1:20 pm
Edited on: March 3, 2011 2:10 pm
President Obama will honor the hockey team from his old stomping grounds, the reigning Stanley Cup champ Chicago Blackhawks, at a White House ceremony March 11, the league announced on Thursday.
Members of the this year’s club -- including captain Jonathan Toews (above) -- will be in attendance along with team owner Rocky Wirtz, GM Stan Bowman and coach Joel Quenneville. That leaves a good portion of the 2009-10 club responsible for the team’s title run -- Dustin Byfuglien (Atlanta), Antti Niemi (San Jose), Kris Versteeg (Philadelphia) and Andrew Ladd (Atlanta) -- possibly out of the fold. Chicago Trbune reporter Chris Kuc reports all members from last year's team are invited, but it will be up to their current teams whether they'd be cleared to attend.
As part of First Lady Michelle Obama's Let’s Move! campaign, members of the Blackhawk and the Washington Capitals will help conduct a clinic on a street hockey rink set up on the South Lawn. NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman and USA Hockey Executive Director Dave Ogrean are schedule to preside over that part of the festivities.
The Blackhawks will be in town to play the Caps on March 13, a game that will be broadcast on NBC 12:30 pm ET.
Photo: Gettty Images
Posted on: March 3, 2011 8:33 am
It was Bob Probert’s heart, not his brain, that struck down the former NHL enforcer at age 45 last July.
Probert, however, knew the 16 seasons of pounding he absorbed as one of the league’s foremost pugilists as a member of the Chicago Blackhawks and Detroit Red Wings had taken a toll. Before he died of a massive heart attack, Probert asked family members to forward his brain to researchers known best for studying concussions in football players.
Probert’s suspicions proved correct, according Thursday's The New York Times.
After examining Probert’s brain tissue, researchers at Boston University said this week that they found the same degenerative disease, chronic traumatic encephalopathy, whose presence in more than 20 deceased professional football players has prompted the National Football League to change some rules and policies in an effort to limit dangerous head impacts.
Researchers at Boston University’s Center for the Study of Traumatic Encephalopathy previously found CTE in Reggie Fleming, a former NHL enforcer who died in 2009 at 73.
“How much is the hockey and how much is the fighting, we don’t really know,” said Dr. Robert Cantu, co-director of the Boston University center and a prominent neurosurgeon in the area of head trauma in sports. “We haven’t definitely established that the skills of hockey as a sport lead to a certain percentage of participants developing CTE. But it can happen to hockey players, and while they’re still relatively young.”
Don Fehr, the executive director of the NHL Players’ Association, told the newspaper the revelation that Probert had signs of CTE “raises concerns and it bears serious examination” of the sport's safety.
Hits to the head -- from blindside collisions more than fighting -- have been an issue the league has attempted to remedy over the last couple seasons. The league and the NHLPA agreed to add Rule 48 that made such hits illegal late last regular season and the rule was toughened in the offseason to include in-game penalties, like the major penalty and game misconduct given to New York Islanders enforcer Trevor Gillies on Wednesday night for his hit on Minnesota Cal Clutterbuck.
The league’s most famous player , Pittsburgh’s Sidney Crosby, has not played since Jan. 5 as he battles concussion-like symptoms. Pens coach Dan Bylsma told reporters Crosby’s return could take another month or he may not return until the summer.
Like the NFL, there are no easy answers for a tough-guy sport like hockey. More penalties could help, but Gillies was coming off a nine-game suspension on Wednesday for the exact same kind of hit.
Softer pads, better helmets and more respect wouldn’t hurt either.
Photo: Getty Images
Posted on: March 3, 2011 1:42 am
Edited on: March 3, 2011 2:08 am
The Calgary Flames may have lost more than a crucial couple points when they fell to the Chicago Blackhawks, 6-4, at the United Center on Wednesday.
First-line center Brendan Morrison skated gingerly off the ice in the third period and did not return. NHL.com’s Dan Rosen reports that Flames coach Brent Sutter didn’t specify or how bad it might be.
The victory by the Blackhawks -- their season-best sixth in a row -- moved the defendding Stanley Cup champs to fourth in the West.
Nine of the 10 teams in action Wednesday have at least a fathomable shot at the postseason and the only one that didn't (the New York Islanders) played the role of spoilers. Here’s our playoff race tracker.
GILLIES WASTES NO TIME: In his first game back from a nine-game suspension, New York Islanders forward Trevor Gillies went a little more than a period before he repeated the offense. Gillies blindsided Minnesota Wild winger Cal Clutterbuck, whose head hit the glass after the collision. (Clutterbuck had just hit Islanders rookie Justin DiBenedetto, which drew a penalty as well.) Gillies was given a five-minute major and a game misconduct. Clutterbuck got back up and was in the lineup as the Wild fell, 4-1. Chris Botta of The New York Time’s Slap Shot blog gives a full rundown with video.
PARISE ON THE MEND: New Jersey Devils winger Zach Parise was cleared to skate on Wednesday, three months after undergoing surgery to repair a torn meniscus in his right knee. “He can begin skating lightly immediately,” Devils GM Lou Lamoriello said in a story on the team’s website. Parise has been out 51 games since hurting his knee Oct. 30. Rich Chere of The Star-Ledger reports that Parise would need a minimum of two more weeks of rehab before he can practice with the team, although there’s still a decent chance he could return by the end of the season. New Jersey edged the Tampa Bay Lightning, 2-1, to keep the Devils’ slim playoffs hopes alive.
LINE CHAGES: The Toronto Maple Leafs unlikely run for a playoff spot continued with a 3-2 OT victory over the Pittsburgh Penguins. Mikhail Grabovski scored 42 seconds into the extra frame as the Leafs moved to within two points of the Carolina Hurricanes, who tenuously hold the eighth and final playoff spot in the East. . . . Bobby Ryan’s goal via penalty shot in overtime hoisted the Anaheim Ducks to a 2-1 victory over the Detroit Red Wings. Ryan was hauled down by Detroit defenseman Ruslan Salei just as he reached the net, resulting in the ref pointing to center ice. Here a link to the video.
Photo: Getty Images
Posted on: March 2, 2011 3:30 pm
Edited on: March 2, 2011 3:42 pm
Calgary Flames (33-23-9) at Chicago Blackhawks (34-23-6)
United Center, 9 pm ET
BREAKDOWN: The game features two of the hottest teams going and they just happen to be jockeying for position in the Western Conference, where the bottom half of the standings shuffle around from night to night. (Idle Chicago dropped two slots last night alone.) Neither team has the best shot at catching the leaders in their respective divisions, making these games all so vital.
The Flames are coming off a 6-0 victory over the St. Louis Blues. The ‘Hawks are winners of five in a row and this will be the first game for defenseman Chris Campoli, acquired at the deadline from the Ottawa Senators. He will likely be paired with Brian Campbell tonight, according to Tim Sassone of the Daily Herald.
Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews has netted 11 points over the last six games. Flames winger Alex Tanguay is coming off a three-point night (one goal, two assists) and enters on a five-game points streak.
Posted on: March 1, 2011 2:03 pm
Edited on: March 1, 2011 3:17 pm
Goalie Antti Niemi agreed to a four-year extension with the San Jose Sharks, the club announced on Tuesday.
Niemi, who has won has six games in a row and was tapped as the No. 1 star of the NHL for the final week in February, picked a fortuitous time to negotiate a new contract, which was set to expire at the end of the season. Finincial terms were not released by the Sharks, but The Mercury News reported the deal is worth $15.2 million throughout the life of the contract.
"We wanted Antti to remain a San Jose Shark and he wanted to be here," Sharks GM Doug Wilson said in a news release. "Once he got through his expected integration period with our club, Antti’s play has been outstanding and, just as important, he has consistently been a great teammate. And like many of his teammates over this past year, he worked with us on a contract that fits within our team structure and enables us to keep our group intact."
Niemi, 27, led the Chicago Blackhawks to the Stanley Cup title last season, but the team was forced to release him due to salary cap restraints when he won an $2.75 million arbitration judgment last summer -- about triple of what he made during the 2009-10 season. The Sharks singed Niemi as a free agent days afterward. He's 23-15-3 this season with a 2.44 goals-against average.
Maybe with all the cash, he can afford some new gear.
Posted on: March 1, 2011 3:23 am
Edited on: March 1, 2011 3:38 am
The unbridled fervor that was the 2011 trading deadline -- maybe we’re overstating that a bit -- is over. There were 35 players moved via 16 trades on Monday, sort of a letdown that some of us saw coming since so much movement occurred several days earlier. As our CBSSpors.com hockey writer Wes Goldstein points out, there were 21 deals involving 43 players and 17 draft picks in the first 27 days of February -- the most active month since the lockout.
But here’s a rundown of Monday’s transactions.
PENNER BACK TO SOCAL: The major deal of the day saw Dustin Penner, who came up the ranks with the Anaheim Ducks and helped lead them to a title in 2007, move from the Edmonton Oilers to the Los Angeles Kings. The Oilers, in turn, received minor league defenseman Colten Teubert, a first-round pick this summer and a conditional third-round pick in 2012, which could become a second-round selection if the Kings break through and win their first Stanley Cup in team history. As Helene Elliott of the Los Angeles Times reports, the deal came to pass after the Kings were told Dallas Stars center Brad Richards was not available. The upside on Penner is that he has a year left on his deal, meaning he’s not your average rental.
CAPS MAKES MOVES, BUT NOT IN NET: The Washington Capitals made two separate trades before the deadline, dealing for defenseman Dennis Wideman (Florida Panthers) and center Jason Arnott (New Jeresey Devils.) But GM George McPhee didn’t add a veteran goalie. It was another indication that the club is happy to go with their oft-injured young duo Semyon Varlamov and Michal Neuvirth. This stance didn’t sit too well with columnist/author John Feinstein in December and while Alex Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom are each plodding through a horrid season in the scoring column, goaltending tends to be the Achilles for so many teams come playoff time. (Including controversies in net for the Caps the last two postseasons.) McPhee also told reporters that defenseman Mike Green would be out “a couple of weeks and maybe a little longer.”
FOX, TURNER IN FRAY: FOX and Turner are apparently checking out the possibility of bidding for the NHL television rights package, The Sports Business Journal reports this week. (Second item here.) That would make four networks -- including current rightsholder Comcast (NBC/Versus) and ESPN -- in the hunt for the league’s domestic TV rights, which are set to expire at season’s end. FOX could potentially put the NHL on its FX cable channel, while Turner may bring games to truTV, the channel formerly known as Court TV.
OH YEAH, THERE WERE GAMES: The Chicago Blackhawks, looking to avoid becoming only the second team over the last 70 years to win the Stanley Cup only to miss the playoff the following season, won their fifth consecutive game with a 4-2 decision over the Minnesota Wild on Monday. The win moves the ‘Hawks up to fifth place in the tight Western Conference standings, where fourth-place (Phoenix Coyotes) and 11th-place (Anaheim Ducks) are separated by just five points entering play Tuesday. Monday’s action also featured goalie Jimmy Howard, who signed a two-year extension with Detroit Red Wings on Monday. The first four goals scored in the game went into his net, but Drew Miller scored twice as the Wings tallied seven unanswered goals for a 7-4 win. Penner didn't make it in time for the game, but is expected to join the team in L.A. on Tuesday.
Tags: Alex Ovechkin, Anaheim Ducks, Brad Richards, Chicago Blackhawks, Colten Teubert, Dallas Stars, Detroit Red Wings, Dustin Penner, FOX, George McPhee, Jimmy Howard, Los Angeles Kings, Mike Green, Minnesota Wild, NHL draft, NHL trading deadline, Nicklas Backstrom, Phoenix Coyotes, Stanley Cup, truTV, Turner, Washington Capitals