Category Archives: Interview

Ben Smith says he doesn’t regret fight that cost him a chance to make the Blackhawks for 2nd straight season; For now, focused on leading the IceHogs

Smith_Ben_IceHogsphoto courtesy of the Rockford IceHogs

The following is the piece published in Tuesday night’s issue of The Committed Indian, the official~unofficial Chicago Blackhawks home game night program, which you can buy individual copies or subscribe to at this link.

By Chris Block

You have to focus on what’s right in front of you and I think at that moment …  I was focused on winning two points against Grand Rapids and fortunately that night we did.Ben Smith

With the NHL/NHLPA collective bargaining dispute having been settled and NHL training camps set to commence in less than three days, Blackhawks prospect Ben Smith took to the BMO Harris Bank Center ice in Rockford on January 11th to face off with the IceHogs division-rival, and Detroit Red Wings farm team, the Grand Rapids Griffins.

At this time Smith was the IceHogs’ leader in goals scored, game-winning goals, a member of both the first-team power play and penalty killing units and among the top three forwards in ice time on a nightly basis.

And on a team up to that point which couldn’t help itself but take careless or undisciplined minor penalty after minor penalty, Smith had just 4 penalty minutes on the season and had not stepped foot in the penalty box since mid October.  That’s quite the accomplishment for the gritty and tenacious two-way forward Ben Smith is. Read more »


Adam Clendening praises Nick Leddy; talks AHL All-Star game, Scrimmaging the Blackhawks, Hybrid Icing

Clendening_2012Dec29_TaylorBeck_KrisGray_IceHogsphoto credit: Kris Gray, Rockford IceHogs
Adam Clendening battles for the puck with Milwaukee’s Taylor Beck (41)


By Chris Block

The American Hockey League All-Star Game was held in Providence, Rhode Island on Monday night.

Chicago Blackhawks prospect Adam Clendening, along with Rockford IceHogs team captain Martin St. Pierre were both selected by the league to represent the team from just up the road off Interstate 90.

Both St. Pierre and Clendening were held off the scoresheet in the game.  The Western Conference won with some late heroics by Toronto Marlies captain Ryan Hamilton, who completed a hat-trick with 11.2 seconds to go in regulation to give the West a 7-6 victory over the Eastern Conference all-stars.

Clendening, who turned 20 in October, and leads all IceHogs players with 21 assists this season, said he was initially surprised when news of his AHL All-Star nomination came.

“I was actually eating lunch [on January 17th] with a bunch of the guys,” Clendening recounted.   Read more »


PuckChatter~Radio, Rockford Preview with Mike Peck, Voice of the IceHogs

By Chris Block

This week we’re joined by Mike Peck, play-by-play voice of the Rockford IceHogs, to preview the 2012-13 IceHogs’ team.

On this show we discuss the progressions made in the games of prospects Carter Hutton, Brandon Bollig, Dylan Olsen, Ryan Stanton, Joe Lavin and others. We take a look at who will emerge as the IceHogs team leaders and captains for this season, the changes in Jeremy Morin‘s game, the impact Rob Flick can have in the Rockford lineup, Pete Leblanc‘s journey to an NHL contract, Rostislav Olesz‘s status as well as the potential IceHogs roster should the NHL Lockout proceed as expected.

Mike also gives us the scouting report on Rockford signing Martin St. Pierre.

We discuss the ramifications of today’s Michal Rozsival signing by the Blackhawks and how that move will impact Rockford’s roster. [see Depth Chart]

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PuckChatter~Radio will return next week with the first show of the dreaded NHL Lockout period.

**Next week seems like the perfect time to do some Blackhawks prospects / Rockford IceHogs Q&A from you, the listener.  So if you have any questions in general about this season’s IceHogs, or follow ups to anything Mike and I discussed on this show, post those questions in the comment section below, or its probably better to email those to me directly at

And again, if you missed last week’s interview with former Blackhawk Steve Ludzik, check it out!  Ludzy is a tremendous interview and was very generous with his time with us.  As always, he told some great stories and dropped some interesting nuggets down for us.

**I should point out a correction from the show.  I misspoke.  Michal Rozsival’s deal is a 1-year, $2M agreement.

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Podcast Monday night with Al Cimaglia & Chris Block

By Chris Block

PuckChatter~Radio returns on Monday night at 7pm central with my guest Al Cimaglia of

Join us Live at 7pm central over at

Al and I will be recapping the Blackhawks-Coyotes series and Chicago’s second-consecutive quick playoff exit and analyze what went wrong.

We’ll take a look at all the issues the Blackhawks will be facing this summer, including if an upgrade is needed at the goaltending position.

Also, we will examine post season comments made by the players, Joel Quenneville and Stan Bowman.

I’ll give my take on whether help is on its way from Rockford, who of the call-ups from this past season will start 2012-13 back in the minors and which 2011 ‘Hawks draft picks (excluding Andrew Shaw) have the best shot to make the Blackhawks straight out of training camp.

–For those who cannot listen live, Monday night’s show will be archived at our BlogTalkRadio page, here on our site as well as on Itunes.

–If you missed our recent, well-received Rockford IceHogs season-in-review interview series, you can listen to our chats with Ted Dent, Jeremy Morin, Joe Lavin and Kyle Beach here….. Read more »


AUDIO: Interview with Kyle Beach

By Chris Block

Last Saturday in Rockford, we had a chance to catch up with IceHogs forward Kyle Beach for a season-in-review discussion.

The Blackhawks 2008 first-round (#11 overall) draft pick missed 57 games this season due to a dislocated right shoulder that needed surgery.  Beach suffered the injury on October 28 in Peoria during a fight with Rivermen forward Stefan Della Rovere.

After extensive rehabbing and four and a half months sitting in the stands, Beach returned to the IceHogs lineup on March 23 against the Houston Aeros.

Prior to the injury, Beach had posted 3 goals, 3 assists in the IceHogs initial 8 regular season games.  Beach registered an assist in his first game back and scored in his third game, which was the back end of a 3-in-3 at Milwaukee on March 25.

Although he appeared in just 19 games this season, there were some encouraging steps Beach took during his second pro season, as we discuss in this audio and the interview with Beach.

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In this interview with the 11th overall pick of the summer of 2008, we discuss….

-Positives Beach takes out of another disappointing season

-His thoughts after being left out of “Black Aces” group after ’10-11 season Read more »


AUDIO: Interview with ‘Hawks prospect Jeremy Morin

By Chris Block

We chatted with IceHogs winger Jeremy Morin this past Saturday, shortly before Rockford concluded its 2011-12 season with a 4-3 shootout loss to the Charlotte Checkers.

After being sidelined for ten months with a head injury suffered on January 15, 2011 in a game against the Chicago Wolves in Rosemont, Morin returned in October to score goals in back-to-back games and on his only two shots of that weekend.  But the goals were difficult to come by for Morin over the following three months.

Morin wrapped his AHL season with 18 goals and 40 points in 69 games with the IceHogs.

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During the interview, we discuss…

-Starting his season with 2 goals in 2 games after being out of action for 10 months

-At what point he felt 100% again Read more »


AUDIO: Interview with IceHogs coach Ted Dent

By Chris Block

We were fortunate enough on Saturday to sit down with Rockford IceHogs’ head coach Ted Dent for a lengthy season-in-review discussion.

In this twenty-five minute interview, Dent shared his take on the gamut of subjects from coaching, to working in unison with Joel Quenneville and the Blackhawks coaching staff to the ups and down season his IceHogs experienced in this 2011-12 season.

Dent also gives his take on the state of Kyle Beach‘s progression, where he thinks Beach could be had it not been for missing four months due to shoulder surgery and if Dent has been surprised at all by the rapid ascension of Andrew Shaw.

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In this conversation, Dent gives his analysis and discusses various topics including….

-Getting opportunity to be a head coach at AHL level

-Relationships with players and the transition from being an assistant to the head coach

-What aspect he looked to change in Rockford

-Dialogue ongoing between Chicago and Rockford

-Communicating with, and leaning on Joel Quenneville for advice. Read more »


AUDIO Interview with Blackhawks prospect Joe Lavin

By Chris Block

This morning I had an opportunity to chat with Rockford IceHogs first-year defenseman Joe Lavin.

In his first pro season, Lavin has quietly risen into the top tier of upcoming Chicago Blackhawks prospects on the defense.  Lavin turned pro last April after completing his collegiate career as the captain of the University f Notre Dame where he was a regular pair-mate with another Blackhawks’ prospect, Stephen Johns.  The Blackhawks drafted Lavin in the 5th round (126th overall) in the 2007 NHL Entry Draft.

At 23, Lavin is one of the older IceHogs but he also carries himself like a ten-year veteran.  Lavin plays an intelligent game from the blue line and his improved agility and mobility have helped advance his offensive skill set as well at the pro level.

The interview is about ten and a half minutes long following an introduction.

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We touched on a variety of topics with Joe Lavin, including…. Read more »


One Worth Waiting For

Dylan Olsen – Image courtesy of Rockford IceHogs

The following is a Dylan Olsen feature as it appeared in the December 28th edition of The Committed Indian.

By Chris Block

Nick Leddy’s acceleration into the top-4 has calmed nearly all fear Brian Campbell’s exit would cripple the Hawks’ depth.  With young prospects like Dylan Olsen (2009, 1st rd #28), Shawn Lalonde (2008, 3rd rd #68), Joe Lavin (2008, 5th rd #126) and non-drafted signings Brian Connelly and Ryan Stanton patrolling the point in Rockford, Stan Bowman probably rest assured he had plenty of talent in the pipeline if Leddy stumbled.

To this point, however, Rockford allows the most goals against in the AHL.  It’s true though, too much blame has been placed on the IceHogs blue line for the team’s defensive woes.  The goaltending has ranged from average to turn your head away bad.  Many times, the IceHogs are their own worst enemy. Trouble usually begins with the zone-exit pass and taking chances instead of just playing it safe and getting the puck deep, leading to turnovers.  From there, the defense is in a scramble and the forwards don’t provide much help at times.  The defense isn’t as bad as it looks on paper, but it’s not like it’ll produce three or more full-time NHLers either.

However, there is one cant-miss on the IceHogs blue line.  He’s still a half season away, but Dylan Olsen is looking like that guy.

Blackhawks fans have longed for a big, mean, shut-down defenseman to eat minutes, kill penalties and take some of the burden off stalwarts Brent Seabrook and Duncan Keith. Read more »


Rusty Olesz content playing in Rockford, for now

By Chris Block

If Rostislav Olesz is upset over residing in Rockford these days, he’s surely not showing his hand.

When asked last week if he was disappointed when he learned the Blackhawks were reassigning him to their American Hockey League affiliate, Olesz described his feelings a different way.

“I wouldn’t say disappointed,” he replied.

“The disappointment was sitting in the stands and watching the game up [with the Blackhawks].  To play six, seven minutes a game is disappointing for a player.”

Olesz does not seem as phased by the demotion as he probably should be.  The fact his one-way contract pays him the same no matter where he plays probably has that influence.

During his first three weeks with Rockford, Olesz turned down all media and interview requests, even from the IceHogs.  He’s not a very talkative guy.  Instead he says he wants to let his play do the talking.

The 26-year old, Czech-born left winger came over to the Blackhawks in the draft day deal that sent defenseman Brian Campbell to the Florida Panthers.  Olesz said he learned of the trade on his first day back at home in the Czech Republic.

It was a man-for-man transaction.  One ‘bad’ contract for another.  In the deal, the Hawks gave themselves cap flexibility but also are now stuck with a player who they don’t have a place for, or know what to do with and they pay roughly half of what Campbell earned.

All along there was one caveat attached to the trade – the Panthers knew they were getting a top-end puck-moving defenseman who could eat a ton of minutes on their inexperienced blue line, while the Blackhawks had no idea what to expect from Olesz. Read more »