Category Archives: News and Notes

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 MyFoxChicago.com.

Join us Live at 7pm central over at BlogTalkRadio.com/TheThirdManIn.

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 »

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Blackhawks sign Pete Leblanc to 1-yr deal, IceHogs wrap their season this weekend, tons of news and notes

By Chris Block

On Friday, the Chicago Blackhawks announced they have reached terms on a 1-year contract with center Pete Leblanc.  It will be a two-way (NHL/AHL) agreement.

Leblanc was originally the Blackhawks 7th round selection (186th overall) in the 2006 NHL Entry Draft.  After spending four years at the University of New Hampshire, Leblanc turned pro with the Rockford IceHogs.

The Hamilton, Ontario native has spent the past two seasons with the Rockford IceHogs on AHL contracts as the Blackhawks had elected not to offer Leblanc an NHL contract until now.

In 70 games this season, Leblanc has posted 23 goals and 20 assists for the IceHogs.  Since being a healthy scratch for three consecutive games in early November, Leblanc has scored all 23 of his goals over the most recent 61 contests.

He is currently tied for the team lead in goals scored (23) with Brandon Pirri.  And Leblanc is second on the team in overall points, trailing Pirri by twelve points, with 43.  Leblanc has a plus/minus rating of plus-2.  It was Leblanc’s elevated level of play that caused veteran Brett McLean to slip down the IceHogs depth chart and even to the wing on the fourth line before McLean opted to play out the rest of the season in Switzerland. Read more »

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AHL deals suspensions for Sunday’s brawl, Man who threw first punch gets just 1 game; Plus Olesz injured, IceHogs playoff situation

By Chris Block

The American Hockey League office dealt out discipline on Tuesday in response to Sunday’s bench-clearing brawl incident in Milwaukee between the Rockford IceHogs and hosting Admirals.

In all, four players received a total of 10 games as penalty for their involvement in Sunday’s brawl.  Rockford got the short-hand with two of its players each getting three games while Milwaukee got a total of four.  The two teams and respective coaches were fined undisclosed amounts as well.

IceHogs center Rob Flick received 3 games for essentially instigating the incident when he skated over to Milwaukee’s crease and engaged with Admirals’ goaltender Jeremy Smith while the two teams were lining up for a face off in the neutral zone.  Smith got a 1 game suspension.

Smith and Flick appeared to be exchanging words before Smith took a sip from his water bottle and turned around to find Flick approaching the top of his crease.  At that point Smith took the first swing with his blocker at the head of Flick and the two immediately began fighting before the puck had ever dropped out near the Admirals’ blue line.

Shawn Lalonde and Milwaukee’s Michael Latta each received 3-game suspensions for leaving the penalty box to join in the melee.  Those two had been sent off with off-setting fighting majors at the previous whistle.  Lalonde was responding to Latta taking a run and IceHogs’ forward Brandon Svendsen, who was in a vulnerable position a few feet away from the boards. Read more »

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IceHogs weekly wrap: Hutton leads ‘Hogs back to .500, sets franchise mark; Kyle Beach’s return date and much more

By Chris Block

Behind another stellar week of goaltending from Carter Hutton, the Rockford IceHogs picked up five of a possible six points last week to improve their record to 26-26-2-5.

This marks the first time the IceHogs have sat at the .500 mark since way back on October 28th when the team was 4-4-0-0 after a win at Peoria, the same night Kyle Beach went down with a dislocated right shoulder.

The week began on Wednesday night as a flu bug hit the Rockford dressing room.  The IceHogs, weakened also by the Andrew Shaw and Brandon Bollig call ups to Chicago earlier in the week, and without Jeremy Morin, put forth an amazing effort against the visiting Abbotsford Heat, one of the AHL’s best road teams.

Ben Smith was credited with his team-leading 8th power play goal to get the ‘Hogs on the board first.  The goal was originally given to Ben Youds but the official scoring was flipped the next day.  That goal also ended a 0 for 30 slump for the IceHogs power play units.  And they needed just 3 seconds on their first power play of the night to end that nightmarish streak.  The newest IceHog, Matt Fornataro knocked in his second goal in his fourth game since joining the team.  The game went to seven rounds in the shootout with Abbotsford scoring four times on Hutton while Heat goalie Danny Taylor allowed three from the IceHogs.  Rockford lost 3-2 but picked up a point.

Carter Hutton was the only reason the IceHogs were even in the game in Milwaukee after forty minutes on Friday night.  Since signing an NHL contract with the Blackhawks on Feb 24, Hutton has been incredible for Rockford.  The game was a rematch of the goalie-duel from six days earlier at the BMO between Hutton and Atte Engren.  Hutton prevailed in that game winning 2-1 in a shootout.  Engren stopped 35 shots in that game.   In Friday’s contest, Rockford was outshot 33-13 after two periods but the game was tied 1-1 heading into the third period.  In the final frame, the IceHogs got goals from Brandon Pirri (his team-leading 22nd) and Jeremy Morin (13th) to take the game 3-1.  Rockford is now  5-1-0-1 against Milwaukee this season and have five game left with the Admirals beginning with a  home-and-home this coming Saturday and Sunday. Read more »

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Hawks pickup Oduya, Move Scott; Recall Shaw, Bollig

By Chris Block

The lone addition Stan Bowman and the Blackhawks made before Monday’s 2pm central trade deadline was mobile defenseman Johnny Oduya.

Oduya, 30, comes to the Hawks from the Winnipeg Jets at the price of a 2nd and 3rd round draft choice in the 2013 NHL Draft.  He is an unrestricted free agent this summer.

The six-foot 190 pound Stockholm native was playing third pair minutes in Winnipeg averaging 19 minutes per game.  In 63 games played, Oduya had 2 goals, 11 assists and was a minus-9.

Oduya’s biggest asset is his skating.  His addition and impact on the Blackhawks will be strikingly similar to how Chris Campoli fit in after he was acquired at last season’s trade deadline.  Campoli’s addition was regarded as underwhelming at the time, but he did skate some big minutes for the Hawks. Read more »

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Hutton talks contract, Fornataro on new opportunity, Pirri aiming to be a leader and Dent explains MacTavish incident

By Chris Block

Carter Hutton said he and his agent were not contacted by the Blackhawks about signing an NHL contract until this past Wednesday.

“I didn’t expect it,” Hutton admitted after picking up his IceHogs leading 11th victory in a 3-2 win at Allstate Arena in Rosemont on Friday night.  “It happened the day before I got put on waivers.”

Hutton had to be placed on waivers on Thursday for the purpose of signing him to the NHL contract.  Per guidelines in the NHL collective bargaining agreement, Hutton first had to be offered to the 29 other NHL teams before he could officially become a Blackhawk.  The contract itself was done and official on Thursday morning.

 “It kind of was quick,” Hutton said of the negotiation.  “There wasn’t too much to talk about.  It was kind of a done deal right away.”

As covered on Friday, Hutton was on a one-year standard AHL deal with Rockford and has been with the team ever since being recalled from Toledo on December 3rd to replace an injured Alexander Salak.  Hutton performed so well in Salak’s absence that he became the clear number one during that time and when Salak returned Alec Richards was sent to Toledo of the ECHL.

“It doesn’t really change a ton with me,” Hutton said.  Read more »

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Toews, Quenneville and Blackhawks place high in 2011-12 NHLPA Player’s Opinion Poll

By Chris Block

Jonathan Toews, Joel Quenneville and the Chicago Blackhawks organization scored high in this year’s NHLPA Player Poll.

318 players submitted answers to the annual questionnaire, written by the staff of Hockey Night in Canada and the National Hockey League Player’s Association.

Joel Quenneville, who some Blackhawks fans were screaming to have fired as little as eight days ago, saw his league-wide player approval rating in the “Coach players would most like to play for” category increase from 6 percent in the 2010-11 player poll to 11% this season.  Quenneville placed second to Pittsburgh’s Dan Bylsma, who again received 21% of votes cast in the category.

In last year’s poll, 11% of players indicated the Chicago Blackhawks as the team they would most-like to play for, putting the Blackhawks in a tie for second with the Vancouver Canucks.  This time around the Blackhawks received the most votes supplanting the Detroit Red Wings who topped the category a year ago.  14% of players responding indicated the Blackhawks were the team they’d most-like to play on.  Detroit slid into second-place with a slight drop at 13% of the votes.  Boston came in 3rd taking 11% of the votes, also the biggest one-year jump of any NHL team. Read more »

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Montador to IR, Blackhawks recall Olsen; IceHogs get Danis-Pepin

Today, the Blackhawks placed defenseman Steve Montador (upper body) on the Injured Reserve list.  Montador was injured in Tuesday night’s loss at Colorado.

In his place, the Blackhawks have recalled 21-year old Dylan Olsen from the Rockford IceHogs.

Olsen played in two games for the Blackhawks (January 5 @ Philadelphia, January 6 vs Colorado) last month and posted four shots on goal.  He was held off the scoresheet but also left the Hawks an even plus/minus.

Read our profile on Dylan Olsen published in late December, eight days before his first NHL call up.

In 44 games with the IceHogs this season, Olsen has 4 goals, 3 assists and is a minus-4.  Two of his four goals have come in Rockford’s last four games. Read more »

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Hawks sign top picks McNeill and Danault, plus Shaw; Podcast Wednesday and more IceHogs notes

Mark McNeill – photo: HockeyBroad.com

By Chris Block

We’ve got TTMI~Radio coming up tomorrow night (Wednesday) January 4th over at BlogTalkRadio.com/TheThirdManIn.

Join us live at 8pm central for our annual New Years resolution and predictions extravaganza.  This show should be Super.

We’ll take a look at why the Blackhawks suck against the Oilers, what’s wrong with Dan Carcillo’s brain… how the Blackhawks don’t seem to care about the brains of Marcus Kruger, Brent Seabrook and others… and we’ll preview the week ahead, including the big matchups Thursday in Philly with the Flyers and back at home Sunday with the Red Wings.

Beer, Bacon & Malort

My good friends over at HockeeNight dot com will be hosting some Red Wings fans this Saturday night, January 7th, at Paddy Long’s in Chicago at 1028 W. Diversey.  That, of course, is on the eve of the Red Wings-Blackhawks matchup at United Center the next night.  Hmm.  Beer, bacon and Malort… don’t mind if I do.

–I’ll have another column running in the Committed Indian this Sunday night.

McNeil, Danault gets deals

On Monday, the Blackhawks made official the signings of both of their 2011 1st round draft picks, centers Mark McNeill and Phillip Danault.

Both players will continue with their junior teams and likely be called to the Rockford IceHogs if those seasons end before Rockford’s does, which at this point looks like it’ll be on April 14th. Read more »

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IceHogs notes: Rockford begins 9 of 10 on the road Monday night in Milwaukee

By Chris Block

I continue to receive questions regarding Kyle Beach’s status.  There is no real update other than he’s out indefinitely with a severe right shoulder injury.   His shoulder was dislocated during a fight with Peoria’s Stefan Della Rovere in Peoria back on October 28.

Beach’s right arm is currently in a harness.  He’s been telling people he’ll be back before the end of the regular season.  I don’t know for sure if that’s accurate, but there is hope he’ll return sometime in March.

Season on the brink

With the loss to Toronto this past Wednesday night, the Rockford IceHogs home record drops to a dismal 6-11-0-0.  They are 3-2-0-0 over their most recent five home games.  One of those wins came via the shootout.

I suppose its good news that 9 of Rockford’s next 10 games are on the road.  Last season’s IceHogs turned their misfortunes around and finished strong (17-5-1-1) beginning with an early March 7-game road trip.

That current stretch of 9 of 10 begins Monday night in Milwaukee where the IceHogs will face off with third-best team percentage wise in the Western Conference.  The Admirals are currently second in the division behind Charlotte, but they’ve also played five fewer games than the Checkers and trail Charlotte by just two points in the standings.

Rockford is now 11-15-1-2 overall.

% Points Earned-wise, the IceHogs are the 2nd-worst team in the AHL (.431).

By Goal Differential, Rockford (-16) ranks 25th out of 30 AHL teams.

They are 6th in Goals Scored per game (3.1)

However, the IceHogs are dead-last in Goals Allowed per game (3.7).  The Bridgeport Sound Tigers, in the other conference and have no like opponents with the Hogs, are the next-worst, allowing 3.4 goals per contest.

The only team in the AHL with a worse record is the Binghamton Senators (11-19-1-1, .375), which is Rob Klinkhammer’s new home. Read more »

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