Jul 252011

Chris Campoli
this past Thursday on his stay in Chicago

I have nothing but great things to say about it.  It didn’t work out contract wise with them, but they’re a first-class organization.  The fans were unbelievable.  The city is absolutely amazing.  I really enjoyed being there and I was very fortunate to be able join the team when I did.”  [Fan 590 Toronto]

He wasn’t asked at all about the failed negotiations with the Blackhawks.  This also a day after the Hawks officially cut Campoli loose on the UFA market.  The Chicago comments came as Campoli was asked to summarize or compare each place he’s played thus far in the NHL.  Simply a waste of time, a terrible interview.

Martin Lapointe, who’s served as a pro scout for the past two seasons, is no longer listed in that, or any other capacity on the Blackhawks official web site.

In case you hadn’t heard….

Patrick Lalime has retired.  He’d been the backup in Buffalo ever since being pushed out of Chicago by the Cristobal Huet signing in ’08.  Lalime will pursue a new career in broadcasting.  He was a pro for 16 seasons, 12 in the NHL.

Mark Bell has signed a two-way deal with the Anaheim Ducks, reuniting Bell with Bob Murray.  Bell has been playing in Switzerland for the past two seasons.  Before that he’d spent a year with the Hartford Wolf Pack as a member of the Rangers’ organization.  He last skated in the NHL in 2008 with the Maple Leafs.  As general manager of the Blackhawks, Bob Murray selected Bell number eight overall in the 1998 NHL entry draft.  Bell was the piece the Hawks gave up to receive Martin Havlat in the three-way deal with Ottawa and San Jose.  But two months after the trade Bell was involved in a highly publicized hit and run DUI incident in the San Jose area.  Bell played that season with the Sharks with his legal issues stemming from the accident hanging over him.  The next summer he was dealt to Toronto as he plead no contest to the charges against him.  It was at that point the NHL stepped in and suspended Bell 15 games (which he served as a member of the Leafs) and ordered him into the NHL/PA substance abuse program.  Keep in mind, Bell, who ran from the scene of the hit-and-run accident and didn’t submit a breathalyzer until being apprehended a half hour later, submitted a breathalyzer of .201, two and half times the legal limit in the state of California.  Yet, the NHL didn’t force him into the substance abuse program for another twelve months.  A year after he was drafted by Chicago, while played junior hockey in Ottawa, Bell was arrested late one night after a fight with a cab driver.  Nick Boynton was also involved in the incident and originally both were charged with assault but its believed Boynton was largely just intervening.  Bell eventually served hours for community service.  That incident took place a less than a month before Bell’s Ottawa 67’s won the Memorial Cup as the host team.  Boynton, Zenon Konopka and Brian Campbell were also members of that team.

As anticipated, the Blackhawks passed on an ECHL affiliation agreement with the new Chicago Express franchise at Hoffman Estates’ Sears Centre.  The Columbus Blue Jackets will be the affiliate for the Express.  The Blackhawks renewed with Toledo for another season.

Article on the Broadhurst brothers.  Orland Park boys.  Alex, the Hawks 2011 7th round (1 of 2) draft selection and Terry, a prospect camp free agent invitee the past two summers.  [Orland Park Patch]

Pressed for his best Dale Tallon story, Kris Versteeg details the 15-minute chew down he received from Tallon the first time the GM sent the flashy winger down to the minors.  [Sun-Sentinel]

A little background on new Fargo Force head coach John Marks, including how he made former NHL tough guy Andre Roy cry.  Marks, 63, signed a three-year deal, replacing Jason Herter, who left to take an assistant’s position with the UMD Bulldogs. Marks is obviously a Blackhawk alumnus and former ECHL head coach.  He left his head coaching position with the Winkler Flyers (Manitoba Junior Hockey League) to take this USHL job, which gets him closer to his roots.  USHL is a developmental league, but also a feeder system for U.S. college hockey.

As if he doesn’t have enough on his plate, Rocky Wirtz was elected to the Northwestern University Board of Trustees last week.  This, a few weeks following his election to the NHL Board of Governors.

Speaking of, Wirtz Beverage Nevada will be distributing Good Time Beverages, party cocktails served as they come, in re-sealable pouches.  “Our products will be a natural for large retailers in Las Vegas, and for resort operators. Our pouches fit perfectly into mini-bars and in the shops that service the millions of visitors to Nevada, and also work poolside. We are very pleased that our representation in the market will be with Wirtz Beverage Nevada,” says Robert Whyte, CEO of Good Time Beverages.

Evander Kane has indicated he intends to seek out Bobby Hull’s approval to wear Hull’s retired number 9 with the new Winnipeg Jets.

A pair of Blackhawk birthdays yesterday.  Jack O’Callahan turned 54.  Frequent visitor and occupant to the United Center autograph table, Dave Mackey turned 45.

He never got into a game with the Hawks, but a few people may recall the name of Russian winger Ravil Gusmanov.  He’s 39 today.  The Hawks gave up a ’96 fourth round pick to the Jets for Gusmanov.  A year later he was traded to Calgary for a player you’ve never heard of, big defenseman Marc Hussey, who was drafted #43 overall by Pittsburgh in ’92.  Hussey never made the NHL.  Gusmanov actually returned to Chicago a season later, this time with the Wolves and was a point-per-game performer during that team’s ’98 championship season.

Fourteen years ago Sunday, the Hawks were able to scrape some dead weight off their roster.  Murray Craven was dealt to San Jose for winger Petri Varis.  The Finnish Varis was recalled once and found his way into one game that season.  But that would be the only season of his eighteen year pro career that Varis would spend in North America.  He was a huge star for Jokerit in several seasons before coming over.  So, on paper that trade looked pretty good for Chicago until he started playing.  There was actually some buzz in Chicago over Varis and Gusmanov, as the Hawks were at the time seen as a team trying to take steps into the European invasion, even though they’d missed it by six years.  Craven had just 8 goals in 75 games with the Hawks in the season prior to the trade.  He’d fought back problems in most of his three years in Chicago.  Craven managed another three limited seasons in San Jose before calling it quits.

Also on July 25, 1997, Enrico Ciccone was dealt to the Carolina Hurricanes for defenseman Ryan Risidore, who never made the NHL.  Risidore is noteworthy for being the player sent to the Rangers in exchange for Ryan VandenBussche in March of ’98.

Last Friday was the 20-year anniversary of the trade that first-ended Troy Murray’s Blackhawk tenure.  Murray and Warren Rychel were traded to Winnipeg for defenseman Chris Norton and Bryan Marchment.  The Hawks would reacquire Murray less than two years later, from Winnipeg, but then send him back to the Jets about 12 and a half months after that.  Norton spent a couple months in the Hawks’ organization before he was traded for defenseman Rod Buskas.

It was also a year ago last Friday the Hawks dealt Marty Reasoner, acquired from Atlanta in the Dustin Byfuglien deal the month prior, to Florida for Jeff Taffe.  The trade was really all about money.  Taffe had a contract that guaranteed him $600,000 whether he played in the NHL or the minors.  Chicago needed to deal Reasoner to help create a little extra space in their bid to retain goaltender Antti Niemi.  Niemi received a $2.75M contract award in arbitration nine days later, which Chicago walked away from.  He signed in San Jose for $2M, struggled but then played great for three months and got a whopping 4-year $15.2M extension out of the Sharks.  Reasoner had a good season as the center on Florida’s shut-down line, tying a career-high 14 goals and 32 points (career high by one) in 82 games.  Taffe spent all but a game of the ’10-11 season with Rockford.  He got off to a slow start there, which contributed to the team’s bad start, but was terrific in the second half.

Taffe signed a two-way deal with the Minnesota Wild on July 5.  The move was a convenient one for Taffe.  He grew up just south of St. Paul on the Minnesota/Wisconsin border and recently bought a house about a half hour from the Xcel Energy Center.  Taffe will probably see at least a handful of games with his hometown Wild, but odds are he’ll spend most of his season with the Houston Aeros and their new coach, ex-Hawks’ assistant John Torchetti.

Houston will no longer be in Rockford’s division however.  So the IceHogs will see Houston four times, two each; home and away.  The Aeros now reside in the West division with Abbotsford, San Antonio, Oklahoma City and Texas.  Rockford is in the Mid-west division with the Chicago Wolves, Peoria Rivermen, Milwaukee Admirals and Charlotte Checkers.  The AHL schedule, reduced this season from 80 to 76 games, isn’t expected to be out for another week or so.


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