It Could Happen Tonight

MLB: World Series-Chicago Cubs at Cleveland IndiansThe fact that I am writing the words “the Cubs can win the World Series tonight” still does not seem real to me. This is a day I’ve thought about ever since I became old enough to understand baseball, the Cubs, and everything that comes with being a Cubs fan. To make it simple: today is the biggest day of my entire life, and I’m sure I’m not alone on this.

I can’t help but think about all those times I played this game out both in my head and in my backyard as a kid. Game 7, bottom of the 9th, bases loaded, two outs, and the winning run coming to the plate in front of a delirious Wrigley Field crowd. Obviously tonight’s game will be played in Cleveland, but still. The thought of the Cubs winning the World Series is one that has passed through my head on average of at least once a day for nearly the last 18 years of my life, and now here we are about 8 hours away from the first pitch of Game 7 of the World Series.

From the moment the Cubs recorded the 27th out in Game 6 Tuesday night, I’ve been trying so hard to not get caught up in the moment, to not think about what is at stake in Game 7. I have been rather unsuccessful thus far in blocking those thoughts from entering my brain, and therefore I am working on minimal sleep today.

Now I’ve got to be honest. I have never actually been able to picture the Cubs winning the World Series. I can’t get an image in my head of what it would look like if they storm the field and create a dogpile on the pitcher’s mound and hoist that trophy. As hard as I’ve tried, I just keep coming up empty. And honestly, I’m fine with that. I want to see it actually unfold in real life, not in my head.

I also can’t help but think about everything that has preceded this day.

My dad’s parents, my grandparents, and my great grandma were all diehard Cubs fans who came and went without ever seeing their team win it all. One of my uncles, who passed away far too soon and whom I never had the opportunity to meet, was also a diehard Cubs fan and was even drafted by the Cubs out of college to pitch and play the outfield; a dream come true. He never saw the Cubs make the World Series.

Then there are people like my dad, one of my other uncles, and my dad’s friends who have suffered through over 50-60 years of disappointment with the Cubs. I can guarantee you they will all agree that waiting so long for a World Series title was well worth it if the Cubs can pull it off tonight.

And even I, almost 25 years old, can’t help but recall my earliest memories of being a Cubs fan and everything that has happened between then and now. From my first Cubs game at Wrigley Field against the Marlins in 1997, Sammy Sosa’s historic 1998 season, all the vacations that my dad and uncle took my brother and I on to see the Cubs play in different parks across the country (22 of them), the heartbreak that came with the 2003, 2007, 2008 and 2015 seasons, to now being one win away from winning it all. I can’t help but get emotional when thinking about everything that has led up to tonight’s game. And really, that’s kind of what this is all about. Years upon years of waiting for this moment while making memories along the way, and now it could all come to fruition in just a few hours.

I don’t know how I am going to make it through the rest of today knowing what is waiting for us at 7:00 CT tonight. But I do know this:

IF, and it’s a big if, the Cubs can pull off the impossible tonight and win the World Series for the first time since 1908, the scene that will unfold here in Chicago will be unlike anything this country has ever seen before with regards to a sports championship. The emotions and built-up stress in us fans will all be unleashed at once. Some people may go crazy and go out partying. Some people will celebrate by hugging each other. Others may break down into tears, and some might even go silent in disbelief. As for me, I don’t know what I would do if the Cubs were to win it. I’d probably lose my mind for a minute and go bouncing off the walls, but then I would likely regroup, sit down, maybe even shed a tear, and just soak it all in. It’s a moment you cannot prepare for.

So I guess I’ll leave it at this. Tonight is the biggest night in the history of Chicago sports. It’s a night we’ve dreamed of for what seems like forever. Watch the game with people who will at the very least appreciate this as much as you. And if they do win tonight, make sure to remember those who are no longer around to see it.

Tonight, the Chicago Cubs have a chance to win the World Series.

Time To Vent

MLB: NLCS-Los Angeles Dodgers at Chicago CubsOkay, I know it’s been months since I’ve posted anything here, but I’ve been ultra busy with my new job. Please forgive me.

So what brought me out of my hole so randomly? The Cubs, of course. But I’m not here today to discuss what the Cubs have done so far or what they might do against Cleveland. No, I’m here to talk about something that has me extremely pissed off.

Fake Cubs fans.

Deep down I knew this would happen whenever the Cubs eventually made it to the World Series, and sure enough, it’s happening. EVERYONE is now claiming to be a Cubs fan. People who didn’t watch one regular season game, out of towners who have called themselves fans of other teams their whole lives (until now), and so on. Just like that, as soon as the Cubs won Game 6 of the NLCS, people from all corners of the country are jumping aboard the Cubs’ bandwagon.

If you want to be a bandwagon fan and cheer for the Cubs all of a sudden, that’s fine. It happens every year with every sport. Fans, albeit not true fans, of other teams will root for a different team if their team is performing poorly. So be it.

But DO NOT act like you have been a Cubs fan all along. Do not try and throw at me stats and other information about the Cubs while trying to look like you know everything about the team, the same team you didn’t give s*** about two weeks ago.

I’ve seen it first hand multiple times now in recent days, where people who have bad-mouthed the Cubs at every opportunity over the years are all of a sudden trying to get tickets to Cubs playoff games, or they’re walking around the office and downtown Chicago with a brand new Cubs shirt and hat on.

I’m sick of it, and I’m sure Cubs fans who are much older than me hate it even more. If you’re going to endlessly talk trash about the Cubs, don’t expect any respect from me or any other true Cubs fan when you all of a sudden show up wearing Cubs apparel as soon as they make it to the World Series for the first time in 71 years. You’re a fraud, and you shouldn’t be allowed within a mile of Wrigley Field during the World Series.

Alright, that’s out of my system now. Carry on with your day.

Oh, and by the way… Cubs in six.

Cubs’ Potential Lineup in Wild Card Game

15-_DSC2491-toresizeToday, Cubs manager Joe Maddon spoke to the media in advance of Wednesday’s Wild Card game between the Cubs and Pirates, but would not reveal who he plans to start in the game. We all know Jake Arrieta will be taking the hill for the Cubs, but that’s about it. From there, there’s a lot of different options.

Here’s how I project the lineup to look Wednesday night:

  1. Fowler, CF
  2. Schwarber, RF
  3. Bryant, LF
  4. Rizzo, 1B
  5. Castro, 2B
  6. La Stella, 3B
  7. Montero, C
  8. Arrieta, P
  9. Russell, SS

With Gerrit Cole being named the starting pitcher for the Pirates, Maddon will likely want an extra left-handed bat in the lineup to counter Pittsburgh’s top righty. That’s where Tommy La Stella comes into play. La Stella has been one of the Cubs’ hottest hitters in recent weeks, and he does it from the left side. In a one game playoff like this, you’re going to want your best hitters in the game. That may mean leaving someone like Coghlan, Soler, or Baez out of the starting lineup, but in a situation like this, it is imperative to put your hottest bats in the lineup.

Another factor to take into account here when looking at that projected lineup is defense. This isn’t the Cubs’ best defensive lineup, but it’s not bad. With the outfield at PNC Park being one of the largest in baseball, Maddon will likely elect to play Kris Bryant in left field instead of Schwarber. Why? Because Bryant is more athletic and can cover more ground than Schwarber. Left field holds a lot more ground to cover at PNC than right field. If it were all about defense, Schwarber probably wouldn’t even be in the lineup, but his bat can become crucial in a game like this.

Speaking of which, the lineup that I have projected above is a pretty powerful one, minus La Stella. Basically every player in the order has serious potential to hit the ball out of the park at any time. This is the main reason why I believe Schwarber will be in the starting lineup. Against a pitcher like Gerrit Cole, who rarely makes mistakes with his pitches, you need a lineup going against him that is full of players who can capitalize on Cole’s mistake(s). Players like Schwarber, Bryant, Rizzo, Castro, Montero, and even Russell can do that.

In these one game playoffs, there’s usually one player that leaves a huge impact on the game outside of the starting pitchers. My pick for that player in Wednesday night’s game is Addison Russell. You may be asking why not a guy like Rizzo or Bryant? While those two can certainly play an enormous role in a game like this, I really like what I’ve been seeing from Russell lately. His defense has always been elite and could be pivotal Wednesday night, but his bat has come alive here over the last couple of weeks. With him likely to be hitting out of the number nine spot in the lineup, his ability to get on base and drive in runs from the bottom of the order could be big.

So there you have it. We’ll wait and see how Maddon elects to construct his starting lineup, but it’s a good bet it will be something similar to what I have listed above.

Ranking the NHL team logos

Recently The Hockey News magazine came out with their NHL logo rankings, which I thought was pretty interesting and fun to look at. So, I decided I’d do my own rankings. Like The Hockey News did with theirs, I am simply looking at the logo of each team and not taking any history or anything else into account. We’re just looking at the logos here. With that, let’s get to it.

306cphie5heyvfwn6lbzfowe61h

There’s just not a whole lot that’s interesting or unique about this logo. It’s simply just a blue maple leaf with letters on it.

29. TampaBayLightning_LOGO

For being recently modified, you’d think the Lightning would have come up with a more creative design. This is one of the more boring logos in pro sports.

28. ANAHEIM_DUCKS_LOGO

I absolutely hated the logo the Ducks had been using for the past 8 years or so, but this new one isn’t much better. 

27. 940-couture-logan

The Kings’ logo looks like some kid decided one day to come up with a logo on Photoshop. Their old logo was way more interesting to look at.

26. 174

Here’s another example of a boring logo. Maybe if Pittsburgh went back to their color scheme from the early ’90s it would look a bit better.

25. WinnipegJets

I think the Jets were on the right track with this logo, but there’s too much “blah” to it. I feel like it needs words with it or something.

24. 6cphie5heyvfwn6lbzfowe61h

Does anyone really know what this is supposed to be? It looks like a whale/shark and then I have no clue what the rest is.

23. 6cphie5heyvfwn6lbzfowe61h

There must be 5,000 high schools in America with this same logo. At least the Panthers used some bright colors to go with it.

22. NHL-Nashville-Predators-Logo-Wallpaper

Definitely a unique logo that the Predators have. The new color scheme makes it look better than it used to.

21. st-louis-blues-logo

This isn’t necessarily a bad logo, but it’s not very interesting or intimidating either. 

20. 7327531

Here’s a logo that hasn’t changed at all. I like how it’s supposed to be a hockey puck creating the “avalanche.”

19. 6cphie5heyvfwn6lbzfowe61h

This logo hasn’t really changed over the years either. The oil-drip at the top and the oil “dripping” off the bottom of the letters are what makes this logo. Good colors too.

18. si34dm1f9jex9eoexq9l1svqk

The only reason this logo isn’t lower is because of the “H” in the middle of the “C.” It stands for “Habs,” which is the Canadiens’ nickname in Montreal.

17. 161

I’m not entirely sure what this logo is or what a “Flyer” is, but it looks pretty cool. Also, orange and black is always a great color scheme in sports.

16. 144

I like how the Rangers use a shield for their logo, and I like the diagonal lettering. Royal blue is a color not used often enough in sports, and the red that the Rangers use is unlike any other red in the NHL.

15. 161

The Capitals are one of just a couple teams to use words for their logo, which makes this unique. Navy blue and red are always good together.

14. crestonwht_rgb

Good colors and an intimidating logo. The broken stick in the shark’s mouth is a good touch.

13. 6cphie5heyvfwn6lbzfowe61h

This is a very detailed logo compared to most others. To me though, it seems more like a secondary logo.

12. 6cphie5heyvfwn6lbzfowe61h

Most people will glance at this logo and think that the creators of it just splattered some orange paint in the middle of it, when in reality it’s an outline of Long Island. Pretty creative.

11. jesus-clip-art-2

Here’s a simple, but good logo. The flames coming off the back of the “C” get the point across as to what the team name is, and the bright red and yellow look good as well.

10. Minnesota-Wild-Wallpaper-

Clearly this is a hurricane, but it’s a cool looking hurricane. The colors make this logo pop out and look more intimidating.

9. ANAHEIM_DUCKS_LOGO

The guys over at The Hockey News had this ranked second on their list, which was surprising. It’s a good logo, but I’d like to see brighter colors.

8. New_Dallas_Stars

I’m somewhat second guessing myself for putting the Stars’ logo so high because of the fact that it looks like an AHL team’s logo. I preferred Dallas’ previous logo and colors, but this one isn’t bad. Still good colors.

7. DRW Logo

The winged-wheel is one of the more recognizable logos in sports. Pretty basic colors, but a very detailed logo for being so old.

6. Minnesota-Wild-Wallpaper-

It took me a while to figure out what this was when the Wild first displayed it. Once I understood it, the more I liked it. The trees and river in front of the red sunset and shooting star is a perfect logo for a Minnesota team.

5. 6cphie5heyvfwn6lbzfowe61h

This is another logo that some people have to think about for a second. The red is an “N” combined with a “J.” Pretty basic, but I like it.

4. Boston_Bruins_logo

I’ve always like the Bruins’ logo simply because it looks cool and I love the colors.

3. NHL-Nashville-Predators-Logo-Wallpaper

I was extremely happy when the Sabres brought back their original logo a couple years ago. The two swords are what makes this logo as good as it is, not to mention the great colors.

2. bluejackets07-rgbjpg-8678ad1b3fbe2735

The star with the Ohio state flag wrapped around it is a great look and tribute to the state itself. Add in the navy blue and red, and this logo is tough to beat.

1. 56

Often regarded as the best logo in sports, it’s hard to disagree. The Blackhawks’ logo is full of color and pays tribute to Chief Black Hawk, as well as the 86th infantry division of the U.S. Army in World War One. You never hear of this logo being talked about as “disrespectful” to the Native American community, and that’s because of the significance behind it and it’s respectful appearance. 

I think it’s safe to say that the NHL might have the best group of logos in all four of the major pro sports here in the U.S. Ranking them is not easy and is definitely debatable.

Carmelo stays in New York; Bulls getting Gasol

7327531After what seemed like a month of speculation, Carmelo Anthony finally confirmed today that he will be staying in New York to play with the Knicks. It would appear he’ll be signing a 5-year deal worth more than $122 million, but less than $129 million. As a result, the Bulls look to be close to acquiring Pau Gasol. They’ve been saying all along that Gasol is their “plan B” if they miss out on Anthony, but I’m not entirely sure why.

First, let’s get this Carmelo stuff out of the way. He had stated a while back that he simply “wants to win.” The Knicks and Bulls emerged over the past few days as the only possible destinations for Anthony to sign, with the Bulls being the clear-cut better team of the two. Yet Anthony chose to stay in New York. Maybe it was a decision he made based on his family and the fact that he is from New York, or maybe it was a decision based on money. Honestly, I’m going with the latter.

If he really wanted to win, he would be signing a contract with the Bulls today to team up alongside Joakim Noah, Derrick Rose, and Taj Gibson. Instead, he’s re-signing in New York where he has no chance to win a title this year, and most likely for the next few years to come. If it was really going to come down to where he would make the most money like it would appear it did, then why was his decision dragged on for so long? I don’t get it. Moving on.

All reports indicate that the Bulls are finalizing a deal to acquire Pau Gasol sometime very soon. Whether it’s via a sign and trade with the Lakers or signing Gasol outright, they should have him within 24 hours. My questions is why are they doing this?

Gasol is a good offensive big man, but he is lackluster on defense and is getting up there in age (34). To me, he seems like a slight upgrade from Carlos Boozer and that’s it. This also makes me wonder exactly what the Bulls plan on doing with Taj Gibson now.

I was under the impression that the Bulls organization wanted Gibson to be their starting power forward this upcoming season. He certainly deserves to be. However, assuming Gasol is a Bull next season, he will most likely be the starting power forward, thus meaning Gibson will be back on the bench. It makes zero sense to me why the Bulls would want this scenario. Gibson is probably a step or two behind Gasol on offense, but his defensive game is one of the best of any big man in the league. Overall, Gibson is a better player today than Pau Gasol and I cannot understand why the Bulls seem to want Gibson back on the bench. Quite honestly, if I were Gibson, I’d be requesting a trade as soon as this Gasol deal becomes official.

So let’s assume the Bulls get Gasol. They’ll still be lacking a true number two scorer to go along with Derrick Rose. Maybe Doug McDermott can be that guy, but he’s just a rookie and you can’t count on a rookie to do too much for you. Maybe Nikola Mirotic can fill the role, but again, he’s never played a game in the NBA. The Bulls will no doubt be a better team than they were in 2013-14, but I question whether or not they’ll have the roster to make it by the second round of the playoffs, let alone the Conference Finals.

There are still some solid free agents available, and the Bulls presumably will have some money to spend now that they won’t be getting Carmelo. It’s possible they can still upgrade their roster, but I wouldn’t classify them as a serious threat to come out of the Eastern Conference next season just yet. Losing out on Carmelo really hurts, especially since LeBron James is back in the Central Division.

As for Gasol, I suppose only time will tell how that move pays off. Personally, I think it’s a mistake and simply a knee-jerk reaction to not getting Carmelo Anthony. In the minds of the Bulls’ management, I think they saw Gasol as an opportunity to get the next biggest name available, and it may come back to haunt them.

Carmelo, Love, and the Bulls

20131211_151215I think it’s time to take a quick break from writing about hockey on here and focus on another Chicago sports team: the Bulls. It doesn’t really seem to matter what sports coverage you’re reading, watching, or listening to in Chicago right now as all we’re hearing about is the Bulls and their pursuit of a superstar player to join forces with Derrick Rose and Joakim Noah. The names Carmelo Anthony and Kevin Love are continuously being linked to the Bulls, and now you add a certain LeBron James to that list as well with him opting out of the final two years of his contract with the Heat.

The odds of the Bulls getting LeBron James are not good at all. While it might actually make the most sense for him to sign with the Bulls, it’s probably not going to happen. So let’s quickly move on from that discussion.

Carmelo Anthony. He opted out of his contract with the Knicks within the past couple of days like most people expected him to. And why not? There’s no reason he can’t re-sign with the Knicks, but opting out of his contract allows him to listen to offers from other teams. One of those teams is going to be the Bulls.

The Bulls have not kept it a secret that they will pursue Carmelo Anthony. It has been reported that Tom Thibodeau took it upon himself to start calling some of Carmelo’s past coaches to get their opinions of the superstar. While Anthony has never seemed to have any interest in playing defense, Thibodeau apparently made it clear to the coaches he talked with that he believes he can change the type of player Anthony is on the defensive end. I can’t say I don’t believe that because just look at what Thibs has gotten out of the all the players he has coached on the Bulls…

I guess the biggest question with Anthony is whether or not he’ll take a major pay-cut to sign in Chicago. The Bulls clearly want him, but does Carmelo want to win bad enough to take a 50 million dollar pay-cut to play with them? The Knicks and possibly even the Houston Rockets (another team going hard after Anthony) could deal Anthony a max-contract, whereas the Bulls can’t. As it is, the Bulls would have to amnesty Carlos Boozer and trade away a couple of other players like Mike Dunleavy and possibly Tony Snell just to open up the cap space to give Melo a smaller contract than New York or Houston could. The Bulls could offer Carmelo somewhere in the $15 million per year range, while the Knicks and Rockets could go as high as the mid-20’s. It all comes down to how bad Anthony wants to win. The Bulls would no doubt be a title contender with Anthony, boasting a starting lineup of Rose, Butler, Anthony, Gibson, and Noah.

Oklahoma City Thunder v Minnesota TimberwolvesAnother option for the Bulls is Kevin Love. A while back, Love supposedly mentioned Chicago as one of a few places he’d like to play. Love has one year left on his current contract and already said he will not re-sign in Minnesota next season, prompting the Timberwolves to open up trade talks regarding Love. Among the teams reportedly talking with Minnesota about Love are the Warriors, Celtics, and Bulls.

ESPN’s Chad Ford reported recently that the Bulls had made an offer of Taj Gibson, Tony Snell, and the 16th and 19th picks in the upcoming NBA draft for Kevin Love. If that is in fact accurate, which it sounds like it is, then the Bulls are not kidding around in trying to upgrade their roster. That is a substantial offer that they have placed on the table, and one that will be tough to beat for the Warriors and Celtics. Golden State can probably make a better offer, one that includes Clay Thompson, but are they willing to give up Thompson and David Lee for Love?

Rumors came out last week that Derrick Rose would prefer to play alongside Kevin Love than Carmelo Anthony. If that is the case, then I’m assuming he has enough say within the organization to force the management to make Kevin Love their number one priority. If it appears that they can’t get Love without having to trade away too much, then Carmelo will be next on their list. Again, it was just a rumor that Rose held this opinion, and I have no idea if it’s actually true.

What I would like to see is this:

I want the Bulls to amnesty Boozer, trade Dunleavy and possibly Snell if necessary, and then sign Carmelo Anthony. Anthony is one of the game’s most lethal offensive players, and I trust that Tom Thibodeau can make Anthony a better defensive player than he has been. The reason I would choose Anthony over Love is because with Anthony, you would still have Taj Gibson starting at power forward. Gibson has become an incredible defensive player who’s offensive game keeps improving. If you trade Gibson for Love, you’re upgrading at power forward, but you’re not getting the offensive firepower that you would get with Anthony. Bottom line, many teams would kill for Taj Gibson, so keeping him and adding Anthony to the lineup would spell disaster for the rest of the league.

The national media is making it sound as though the Bulls could very well end up with either Anthony or Love on the roster to start next season. It would be a HUGE disappointment if they strike out on both. Now is the time for the Bulls to do whatever they have to in order to win. Anything short of that is a failure by the management.

So now what for the Blackhawks?

940-toews-jonathan-8colNow that the Blackhawks have come up just short of defending their Stanley Cup championship in this year’s playoffs, we can look ahead at what might take place on West Madison Street as the summer progresses. Last year, we were all talking about a Stanley Cup victory and how the team would remain mostly intact heading into the 2013-14 season. Unfortunately, this summer has a much different tune to it, even though you can’t really view this season as a failure.

The Hawks finished up this season with 107 points, which in the past had usually guaranteed you one of the top three spots in the conference heading into the playoffs. However, with many teams improving around the league and the parity growing, 107 points was good for third place in the Central Division this year. Third place in your own division doesn’t sound so good, but 107 points is nothing to cry about.

In the playoffs, the Hawks knocked off a Stanley Cup-favorite in the St. Louis Blues in the first round, and they eliminated the Wild for the second year in a row in the second round. Defeating the Blues was big, and beating the Wild to advance to the Conference Final for the fourth time in six years was even bigger. Then came the Kings, who beat the Hawks in overtime of Game 7 to put an end to hockey in Chicago, for now. Think about it, the Blackhawks were one lucky bounce, one shot away from winning the Western Conference again. That isn’t anything to get too upset over.

While the feeling around Chicago regarding the Blackhawks has turned into “Stanley Cup or bust” each year, that doesn’t mean the Hawks need to rebuild every time they don’t win the Cup. With that said, let’s look at what may happen this summer.

It is unlikely that you will see the following players wearing Blackhawks jerseys again next year: Michal Handzus, Sheldon Brookbank, Nikolai Khabibulin, and Peter Regin. They are all unrestricted free agents that the Blackhawks will most likely opt to not re-sign. Jeremy Morin, Antti Raanta, and Ben Smith are all restricted free agents that I believe the Blackhawks will try to lock up before they become available to other teams. If one of those three were to be let go, I’d put my money on it being Raanta, although that is very unlikely to happen.

Some other guys you might not see with the Blackhawks include Joakim Nordstrom, Johnny Oduya, Michal Rozsival, Nick Leddy, and Kris Versteeg. Nordstrom may be sent back down to Rockford next season, and the other four guys will likely be brought up in trade talks this summer. It is highly unlikely that the Hawks would trade away two of their defensemen, let alone three, so if one of them goes, I’m putting my money on Oduya as he is entering the last year of his contract and is due over $3 million next year. After him, Rozsival would be the most likely to go for similar reasons. Nick Leddy would bring back the most to the Hawks if he were dealt, but I don’t see them giving up on him. He is too talented to trade away at just 23 years old. As for Kris Versteeg, I wouldn’t trade him yet. I’d see how he performs during the first couple months of next season before trying to make a deal.

The Blackhawks will also be looking to add players to the roster. Most notably a second line center. My best guess here is that the second line center position is Teuvo Teravainen’s to lose. The Blackhawks may look to sign a center this off season who could play on the second line if need be, but I believe they want Teravainen to be that guy come opening night. I don’t see him not making the NHL roster, unless he has an absolutely terrible training camp and preseason.

I would imagine the Hawks will be looking to sign a depth defenseman or two. They probably won’t bring back Brookbank, and there is a 50/50 chance they trade Oduya or Rozsival in the next month or so. They acquired David Rundblad this past spring, who is a puck moving defenseman, and he might fill any void left on the d-pairings heading into next year. That leaves room for the Hawks to sign one or two depth defensemen who can rotate in and out of the lineup.

If they don’t sign any defensemen this summer, look for guys like Adam Clendening and Klas Dahlbeck to make the jump from Rockford to the NHL to begin the season.

Something else to keep an eye on is the contract situations with Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane (both have one year left on their contract). Stan Bowman is now allowed to begin negotiating extensions with each player, and he has made it very clear that re-signing both Toews and Kane is priority number one this offseason. I would imagine that if they do both sign extensions, they will receive identical, or close to identical contracts again. It would be nice if they took discounts to allow Bowman to re-sign and sign other players, but I wouldn’t be surprised if Toews and Kane each ask for Evgeni Malkin-type money ($9.5 million per year).

A lot could potentially happen with the Blackhawks this summer. There is also the chance that not a lot happens either. They are still one of the best teams in hockey and will no doubt be a Stanley Cup contender again next season. Whether or not they make a serious push for the Cup, however, could depend on what Stan Bowman decides to do in the next couple months.