Author Archives: Chris Block

Blackhawks trade Brennan to Toronto for Spencer Abbott; Analysis, what it means and more on trade rumor out of Sweden

Brennan_2015Jan16_IceHogs_333x500T.J. Brennan, Rockford’s leading scorer, dealt to Toronto
Jan 16, 2015 photo courtesy of Rockford IceHogs

By Chris Block

Thursday afternoon, the Chicago Blackhawks traded away defenseman, and Rockford IceHogs’ current leading scorer, T.J. Brennan to the Toronto Maple Leafs in exchange for minor league right winger, Spencer Abbott.

Abbott, 26, is 5’9” right-shooting winger in his third pro season now. He spent four years at the University of Maine (2008-2012) where he posted 54 goals and 146 points in 152 career NCAA games with the Black Bears.

Brennan was a member of Toronto’s organization last season. He and Abbott ranked 1-2 in Toronto Marlies scoring during the 2013-14 regular season.

Last year with Toronto, Abbott set career marks in goals (17), assists (52) and points (69) with the Marlies, the Maple Leafs in-town American Hockey League affiliate. This season, Abbott has 7 goals and 17 assists in 46 games. His shooting percentage has dropped to 7.6% from 12.0% last regular season.

There are two keys to this move from a Blackhawks and Rockford IceHogs’ dual perspective. Read more »

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Teravainen Staying Up, Focused After Recent Demotion to Rockford

Teravainen_2015_Feb14_IceHogs_Rockford_vs_OKC_500x333Teuvo Teravainen skating back in Rockford, Feb 14, 2015 vs Oklahoma City
Photo courtesy of Rockford IceHogs

By Chris Block

The afternoon after an overtime loss to the Vancouver Canucks, 20-year old Teuvo Teravainen got the call all rookie players dread.

“After practice Quenneville called me and said what was happening,” Teravainen recounted.

The news Joel Quenneville relayed was that Teravainen was being sent back to the minors. After 15 games, 2 goals and 4 total points, Quenneville informed Teravainen that he would be trading in his number 86 Blackhawks sweater for a Rockford IceHogs, number 21, at least for the time being.

“He told me to just get some ice time (in Rockford). Play my game. Try to be dominant on the ice. Play good. That’s all. Have some fun.”

It was a disappointing development for the confident Finnish center, but Teravainen isn’t allowing the demotion to get him down.

“Of course my goal is to be up [in Chicago], but right now I’m [in Rockford] and I’m trying to help this team out.” Read more »

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Odds and Saads: Notes on weekend, Sharp, Richards; Dylan Olsen MIA, Hayden’s suspension, the Stevie Moses sweepstakes and much more

By Chris Block

Big weekend starts tonight as both the Blackhawks and Rockford IceHogs are in action twice this weekend.

Blackhawks host Colorado at the UC tonight. I’m on recap duty for this one so that should be fun.   The Boston Bruins then come to town on Sunday afternoon for what should be another entertaining game against a top Eastern Conference opponent, the third in eight days at home for the Hawks.

Rockford is in Cleveland this weekend for a two-game set Friday and Saturday against the Lake Erie Monsters, who are the Colorado Avalanche minor league affiliate. The IceHogs missed out on an opportunity to move back into first place in the MidWest division on Wednesday when they were shut-out at home by San Antonio, 4-0. The IceHogs were terrible in that game until the third period when they outshot San Antonio 20-5, but by then it was far too late. Later that night Milwaukee earned a point in an OT loss at Grand Rapids, so Milwaukee sits 2 points up on Rockford. Both teams have played 52 games at this point, though Milwaukee is idle tonight.

–I was absolutely crushed Sunday morning as I walked into the United Center and got the news that Steve Montador had passed away overnight.  Montador was 35.

I covered wrestling for many years and became good friends with guys who would go on to die at an early age or take their own life, but now that I’m a bit older, you get a different feeling when someone dies young whose just a shade younger than you.

I had the pleasure of covering Montador in Rockford and speaking with him in his time with the organization. He was just honest and passionate about the game when we spoke. He was just a great person. That’s all there really is to say.  Its sad that his career ended the way it did and again now that he’s gone.

Read more »

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Hossa Not Enough: Hawks return home, drop 3-2 shootout decision to Arizona

By Chris Block

Returning to their home ice for the first time since a 6-1 drubbing of the Arizona Coyotes on January 20th, the Blackhawks faced off with the same desert sons on Monday night in front of 21,337 fans, the 302nd consecutive sellout crowd at United Center.

Marian Hossa repeated his efforts from Sunday’s win in St. Louis, again posting 2 goals in this, the Blackhawks first home game in 20 days, on Marian Hossa bobblehead night nonetheless.

Hossa was in top form Monday. The relentless back-checking, puck-hounding, puck-sniping beast that he has earned him a reputation as one of the game’s premier all-around performers put in a near perfect effort on his end.

But his two goals were not enough on Monday, as a late second period Patrick Kane unsportsmanlike penalty allowed Arizona to check back into a game they were largely being neutralized within up to that point. And a miraculous Mike Smith goal line stand with 16.3 seconds left in overtime kept the Blackhawks from returning to Chicago in winning fashion.

Lucas Lessio and Antoine Vermette beat Antti Raanta with different slick maneuverings in the shootout, while Patrick Kane was the lone Blackhawk to convert on Smith. Read more »

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Hawks trade Clendening to Vancouver Canucks for Gustav Forsling

Forsling_GustavGustav Forsling


By Chris Block

The Chicago Blackhawks made a deal late Thursday sending third-year pro Adam Clendening to the Vancouver Canucks in exchange for the rights to Gustav Forsling, 18, in a swap of prospect defenseman.

Forsling currently plays defense for Linköping in the Swedish Hockey League and has been a defense partner of 2013 Chicago Blackhawks 2nd round draft pick, Carl Dahlstrom. And the two have skated on the same team for the past three seasons in the Linköping organization. So, the Blackhawks know Forsling well.

Clendening, 22, was a Blackhawks’ 2nd round selection (36th overall) in 2011, a pick Chicago got from the Atlanta Thrashers the previous summer (along with defenseman Ivan Vishnevskiy) in exchange for Andrew Ladd.

In this trade the Blackhawks now provide a somewhat clearer picture of the future of their blue line.  Clendening will report to to the Utica (NY) Comets, the Canucks’ AHL affiliate, but could be called up to the NHL club soon where he’d be reunited with former IceHogs’ teammate and defense partner, Ryan Stanton. [Update 1/30/15 2pm CST: Clendening was recalled by the Vancouver to the Canucks on Friday. He was headed to Vancouver from Chicago on Friday. Canucks host Buffalo tonight. Clendening could be in the line up.] Read more »

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2015 Chicago Blackhawks Prospect Rankings

Teravainen_2014Nov21_IceHogs“Turbo” Teuvo Teravainen, photo: Rockford IceHogs

By Chris Block

2015 CHICAGO BLACKHAWKS PROSPECT RANKINGS

Qualifications for this list include being under the age of 26 on the final day of the 2014-15 regular season. This excluded Scott Darling, Brandon Mashinter (each 26 now) and T. J. Brennan from consideration for these rankings.

The other qualifier is the player must have no more than 25 NHL games played in the current season or no more than a total of 40 NHL career games played at the time of these rankings.

These rankings and short bios were first published on January 16th and are as of January 15, 2015. As you’ll read, the extended bios took a little longer to write and at that point I decided to do a writeup on every Blackhawks prospect who would qualify for this list, even those who fell below the top 25. To me, there was no added value in ranking the players 1-40, so I decided against that.

The rankings are formed by a weighted formula that leans heavily to skill, career potential and probability of impact at the NHL level.  To clear any confusion, how close a player is to playing in the NHL, or being there at times now, does not factor in. Read more »

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IceHogs’ shooters get one, enough; Leighton shuts out Iowa 1-0, sets IceHogs record

Leighton_2015Jan13_Charlotte_320x309_IceHogsMichael Leighton – Photo credit: Rockford IceHogs Hockey


By Chris Block

Rockford IceHogs accomplished something Thursday night they had not before this season – score 1 goal and win.

Matt Carey blasted a power play goal by Iowa Wild goalie John Curry with 6:44 remaining in the third period to give the IceHogs a 1-0 lead, a score that stood as the final.

The IceHogs have scored 1 goal or less in 12 of their 43 games. That’s 27.9 percent of the season to date.

Previously Rockford had found ways to earn points without scoring a goal. They’ve lost 1-0 in overtime, another time in a shootout. But until Thursday they had not figured out how to win a game by a 1-0 score.

Michael Leighton stopped 23 shots in picking up his 11th win and 4th shutout this season and 40th of his career. Read more »

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Rockford’s goal troubles: Numbers and numbers; Mark McNeill says no more raking leaves

Hartman_Ryan_2014Dec30_IceHogsRyan Hartman – Photo credit: Rockford IceHogs Hockey


By Chris Block

Thanks to a terrific start to the season, the Rockford IceHogs still sit atop the MidWest Division a little past the halfway point of the AHL season.

But the past six weeks have been a struggle for the IceHogs. The team’s offense some nights is almost non-existent and the gap between Rockford and nearest contenders, Milwaukee and Chicago has narrowed.

When the IceHogs win they’re averaging 3.7 goals for versus 1.7 against.

In Rockford’s 19 losses (23-13-4-2), they’ve scored just 1.4 goals per game, while the goaltenders allowed 2.9 against.

“We got four goals [Friday, a 4-0 home ice win over Iowa], which was nice,” said IceHogs’ coach, Ted Dent.

“We haven’t had four goals in a long time. So, we’ll just keep chipping away at it.”

Since Thanksgiving, Rockford has put up 4 goals or more just 4 times. That represents a total of 22 games in which the IceHogs have averaged 2.09 goals for per game. Rockford’s record since Thanksgiving is 8-9-4-1. Two of those wins came via the shootout. Read more »

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Stephen Johns returns only to be sidelined again; Dent says 2-3 weeks, Johns talks prior injury

Johns_Stephen_2015Jan19_IceHogsPicStephen Johns (#4) battles Jeremy Welsh in front of Scott Darling Monday Jan 19
Photo credit: Rockford IceHogs

 

By Chris Block

Rockford had only begun to realize how much they missed the steady and physical play of Stephen Johns when injury struck the rookie defenseman again on Monday.

Now the IceHogs will again be without their big rookie blue liner for a stretch.

Johns will miss the next 2 to 3 weeks, according to the team.

“When you can’t do something you love and you enjoy every day, it hurts and it’s frustrating.”

Those were Stephen Johns’ words this past Saturday night, having just completed his second game back from a concussion that kept him out of action for seven weeks.

Now, a left knee injury, suffered Monday afternoon in a game against the Chicago Wolves, will force Johns to miss more time. Read more »

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Ryan Hartman suspension details, Mark McNeill gets Nordstrom’s spot at AHL All-Star Game, Blackhawks add member to Equipment Staff

By Chris Block

RYAN HARTMAN SUSPENDED

American Hockey League on Wednesday suspended IceHogs forward Ryan Hartman for 1 game as result of a high-sticking incident in Monday afternoon’s 4-1 loss to the Chicago Wolves.

The incident took place at 18:44 of the first period along the half wall in the IceHogs’ zone nearest the Rockford bench.

Hartman was looking to play a puck off the wall when Wolves’ forward Colin Fraser converged. Hartman appeared to be looking to lift Fraser’s stick, but what wound up happening was the blade of Hartman’s stick forked Fraser in the face.

There was no immediate penalty called by referees Jarrod Ragusin or Tom Chmielewski (who referred the Blackhawks-Coyotes game in Chicago the next night) as play continued and Fraser returned to the Wolves’ bench. Read more »

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