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  • Spellman’s Scorecard: Offering up some sparklers for your holiday Jul 4, 2014 5:30 AM
    It's the Fourth of July, so you know there's a lot going on ... in Spellman's Scorecard.

     
  • Richards thrilled to land with Blackhawks Jul 2, 2014 5:38 AM
    What looked like a quiet day for the Blackhawks turned into anything but when they signed Peter Regin in the afternoon and then provided some pre-Fourth of July fireworks a few hours later by announcing they had inked center Brad Richards to a one-year deal. “It's a big moment for us to be able to add someone of his caliber as a hockey player and an individual,” Blackhawks GM Stan Bowman said of Richards.

     
  • Niskanen to Caps biggest move on busy day in NHL Jul 1, 2014 5:54 PM
    When the NHL free agent market opened Tuesday, a flurry of moves were made as teams tried to make a splash to improve their rosters and fire up their fans. Some franchises, though, stayed out of the fray and allowed other teams to perhaps overpay for the best players available.

     
  • Richards’ price right for Blackhawks Jul 1, 2014 9:33 PM
    It wasn't sexy, but the Blackhawks' signing of Brad Richards didn't cost much and he has to be an upgrade over Michal Handzus.

     
  • Blackhawks trade Bollig to Calgary, draft 4 more players Jun 28, 2014 12:38 PM
    The Blackhawks have traded forward Brandon Bollig to the Calgary Flames for a third-round selection in the NHL draft. Bollig agreed to a three-year contract extension in March. He had seven goals and seven assists while playing in 82 games this season, and then had an assist in 15 playoff games. The Blackhawks used the draft pick, No. 83 overall, to take forward Matheson Iacopelli.

     
  • Hawks trade Bollig to create cap space Jun 28, 2014 8:18 PM
    It wasn’t the blockbuster deal that some may have been anticipating, but the Blackhawks did make a trade on Day 2 of the draft Saturday in Philadelphia, swapping rugged winger Brandon Bollig to Calgary for the Flames’ 83rd pick in the draft.

     
  • Hawks deal, grab Schmaltz Jun 27, 2014 11:58 PM
    After missing out on Vancouver’s Ryan Kesler, the Blackhawks still ventured north of the border to acquire a center Friday. North of the Illinois border, that is. Don’t count on Nick Schmaltz providing any immediate help, however. Schmaltz became the newest member of the Blackhawks when the Western Conference finalists drafted him in the first round of the NHL draft, which is being held this weekend at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia. The 18-year-old center played for Green Bay of the United States Hockey League this past season, leading the Gamblers with 63 points and 45 assists in 55 regular-season games. “I couldn’t be happier,” Schmaltz told reporters after being drafted. “I grew up a Blackhawks fan my whole life, and to hear my name called was a true honor.” Schmaltz, who added that he attended two Blackhawks playoff games this past season, will attend the University of North Dakota in the fall and told reporters Friday that he likely will play 2-3 years of college hockey. If the 6-foot, 167-pounder turns out to be as good as a certain couple of other UND centers the Blackhawks have drafted, they will be beyond thrilled. Jonathan Toews and Troy Murray both played for North Dakota. The Blackhawks liked Schmaltz enough to move up seven spots to select him. Minutes before their selection, the Hawks announced a trade with San Jose, sending the Sharks the 27th and 62nd selections overall in exchange for the 20th and 179th picks. “It shows they’re confident in me,” Schmaltz said. “I’m going to do my part and show them what I got.” Schmaltz was born in Madison, Wis., and grew up in Verona, which is just one mile southwest of Madison. Schmaltz scored 18 goals, including 11 on the power play, for Green Bay last season. He also led the team with 63 penalty minutes and 140 shots on goal. He won a silver medal with the United States at the 2013 Under-18 Ivan Hlinka Memorial tournament, pacing the team with 8 points (5 goals) in five games. He also led the U.S. to a gold medal at the 2013 World Junior A Challenge, earning him tournament MVP honors with a tourney-high 12 points (4 goals) in four games. During television coverage of the draft, TSN analyst Bob McKenzie called Schmaltz an “enigmatic, talented player” with “top 10 talent” who could have been drafted anywhere from “No. 10 to No. 60.” Analyst Craig Button added Schmaltz’s game is comparable to that of Ottawa’s Jason Spezza. Schmaltz called himself a “play-making center.” While the Blackhawks wait for Schmaltz to develop, they will look elsewhere for a potential No. 2 center. They had to cross off Kesler’s name as a potential veteran to add to their mix heading into next season. Earlier Friday, Anaheim acquired the 6-2 Kesler, a former Selke Trophy winner and six-time 20-goal scorer, from Vancouver in a multiplayer trade. The draft concludes today with Rounds 2-7, starting at 9 a.m. The Blackhawks do not have a second-round pick, after trading it to Phoenix in March for David Rundblad and Mathieu Brisebois. • The Blackhawks were busy before the draft Friday tying up some of their own players. The team announced it had agreed to two-year contract extensions with forward Jeremy Morin, forward Ben Smith and backup goaltender Antti Raanta. Morin, 23, tallied 11 points (5 goals) in 24 regular-season games last year with the Blackhawks and appeared in two Stanley Cup playoff games. He also recorded 47 points (24 goals) in 47 games with the Rockford IceHogs of the American Hockey League. Smith, who turns 26 in July, recorded career highs in nearly every statistical category last season, posting 26 points (14 goals) in 75 regular-season games. He scored 6 goals in the final 15 games of the regular season and then added 4 goals and 2 assists in 19 Stanley Cup playoff contests. Raanta, 25, posted a 13-5-4 record with a 2.71 goals-against average and .897 save percentage in 25 appearances in his rookie season.

     
  • Hawks’ Morin, Smith, Raanta agree to extensions Jun 27, 2014 3:06 PM
    On the eve of the NHL draft, the Chicago Blackhawks announced they have agreed to two-year contract extensions with forward Jeremy Morin, forward Ben Smith and backup goaltender Antti Raanta.

     
  • Panthers take Ekblad with No. 1 pick in NHL draft Jun 27, 2014 8:19 PM
    The Florida Panthers selected defenseman Aaron Ekblad with the first pick in the NHL draft Friday night. The 6-foot-4, 214-pound Ekblad played for Barrie in the Ontario Hockey League. He is the first defenseman to go No. 1 since St. Louis took Erik Johnson in 2006.

     
  • Vancouver’s Kesler lands in Anaheim, not Chicago Jun 27, 2014 6:43 PM
    Ryan Kesler didn’t want to wait around while the Vancouver Canucks rebuild. He wants to win a Stanley Cup now, and the Anaheim Ducks believe they’re on the way after landing the star center. Anaheim acquired Kesler from the Canucks on Friday in a draft-day trade for center Nick Bonino, defenseman Luca Sbisa and the 24th overall pick. The Blackhawks were said to be in the mix for Kesler right up until the end.

     
  • Draft offers Blackhawks a chance to deal Jun 27, 2014 5:12 AM
    The reality is you can't have everything when so few players eat up so much of the cap. The answer to improving the Blackhawks' roster -- and getting Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane signed -- might be in moving a popular player off the roster, perhaps even for a very high pick in the draft.

     
  • Duncan Keith wins his second Norris Trophy Jun 24, 2014 9:11 PM
    Blackhawk Duncan Keith won his second Norris Trophy as the league’s top defenseman Tuesday night at the league’s postseason awards ceremony in Las Vegas. Keith comfortably beat out Boston captain Zdeno Chara and Nashville’s Shea Weber for the Norris, which he also won in 2010. Keith led all defensemen with 55 assists while leading the Blackhawks in ice time for the ninth straight season.

     
  • Capital ‘Classic’ highlights Hawks’ schedule Jun 22, 2014 11:00 PM
    After a series for the ages against the Los Angeles Kings in the Western Conference finals, you’d think that the first time the Blackhawks and Kings meet again would top the list of games to watch next season. Close, but not quite. Not when the Hawks are playing in the Winter Classic against the Capitals in Washington on Jan. 1.

     
  • P.A announcer Gene Honda the busiest man in Chicago sports Jun 22, 2014 8:46 AM
    When he journeyed to the University of Illinois in the early 1970s, Gene Honda thought he was going to be an Engineer. More than 40 years later, Honda is arguably the most recognized P.A. announcer in sports. “I'm getting the chance to do a lot of fun things that I would never have dreamed of,” said Honda, a 59-year-old lifelong Chicagoan.

     
  • Spellman’s Scorecard: Never a shortage of Bears news Jun 19, 2014 10:52 PM
    If you want random, well, you’ve come to the right place - Spellman's Scorecard. Some musings on Bears OTA's, Cubs pitchers and why Mike is still mad at Steve Coburn.

     
  • Carolina hires former Ice Hogs coach Peters to lead ‘Canes Jun 19, 2014 5:22 PM
    The Carolina Hurricanes have hired former Rockford Ice Hogs coach and Detroit Red Wings assistant Bill Peters as their new coach.

     
  • LA mayor drops F-bomb in declaring big day for Kings Jun 17, 2014 10:40 AM
    Mayor Eric Garcetti used the F-bomb in declaring it a big day for LA, bringing 19,000 hockey fans to their feet, lighting up the Twitterverse in delight and, oh yeah, leaving some folks scratching their heads, wondering just what the ... heck the normally soft-spoken elected official was thinking.

     
  • LA Kings celebrate Stanley Cup with parade, rally Jun 16, 2014 8:46 PM
    Darryl Sutter patted the glistening rim of the Stanley Cup, and a roar erupted from the Los Angeles Kings’ joyous fans. “See this baby right here?” the coach asked. “She’s been gone for a couple of years, but oh, we’re happy she’s home.”

     
  • NHL’s West is best again in Stanley Cup finals Jun 14, 2014 4:17 PM
    The West is best in the NHL — again. The Los Angeles Kings beat the New York Rangers 3-2 in double overtime Friday night in Game 5, giving the Western Conference a third straight NHL champion, fourth in five years and sixth in nine years. In the regular season, the Eastern Conference has also been consistently overmatched. The West won 246 games and lost 202 against the East during the regular season — winning more intraconference matchups for the eighth straight season — to increase its advantage to 1,064 wins to 914 losses since the 2005-06 season, according to data from STATS provided to The Associated Press. When the league emerged from a lockout in 2006, a salary cap was put in place to level the field, yet it’s actually been tilting West. Los Angeles and the Blackhawks, which have faced off in the last two conference finals, have combined to win four of the last five Cups. “Both of those teams have built programs with a lot of depth after being terrible for a long time,” Detroit Red Wings coach Mike Babcock said in a phone interview. “They made good picks and made the right moves.” The Kings were bad enough to have the No. 2 overall pick in 2008 and they took full advantage, selecting defenseman Drew Doughty, who has developed into a star. They also made the most of another first-round pick almost a decade ago, drafting center Anze Kopitar, who has become perhaps the league’s best player that doesn’t get a lot of publicity. Likewise, the Blackhawks have built their team around high draft picks, taking forward Patrick Kane No. 1 overall in 2007, one year after selecting Jonathan Toews third overall. The Kings and Blackhawks will likely be the teams to beat next year, too. “The West has more dominant teams, led by LA and Chicago, and I think it should stay that way in the future,” said Anson Carter, a former NHL player and current NBCSN analyst. “I don’t see much of a fallout, but I think this kind of thing just goes in cycles.” The East did have a third straight champion when Carolina won the first Stanley Cup in the salary cap era in 2006 and it hoisted the coveted hardware five years in a row from 1991 to 1995. The San Jose Sharks and St. Louis Blues also racked up enough points in the regular season to finish behind only one team in the East, the Boston Bruins, who won it all in 2011. “When a team wins a championship, you try to do what you can to beat those teams and I think in recent years that started with Boston,” Blues coach Ken Hitchcock said. “The common denominator is having strength up the middle with an elite defenseman, centerman and goaltender.” The Kings certainly were tough to beat up the middle with Jonathan Quick in net, Doughty on the blue line and Kopitar in the middle up front. New York, though, did match up well in those pivotal spots with goaltender Henrik Lundqvist, defenseman Ryan McDonagh and center Derek Stepan. The Rangers pushed Los Angeles to a combined three overtime periods in the first two games before losing and had a 32-15 shots advantage when they lost Game 3. New York avoided a sweep, winning 2-1 on Wednesday night to shift the series back to Los Angeles. “It’s not like we’ve been outplayed,” Lundqvist said. “That hasn’t been the case. They’ve been good, but I think we’ve been playing pretty good as well. It comes down to a couple plays here and there. That’s been the difference in these games.”

     
  • Kings win the Cup on double-OT goal Jun 14, 2014 12:44 AM
    Alec Martinez scored 14:43 into the second overtime, and the Los Angeles Kings won the Stanley Cup for the second time in three years with a 3-2 victory over the New York Rangers in Game 5 on Friday night. Marian Gaborik scored a tying power-play goal with 12:04 left in regulation for the resilient Kings, who rallied from yet another deficit before finishing off the Rangers in the longest game in franchise history.

     
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