A couple IceHogs’ notes from last week.
–After years of trying, the Rockford Area Venues and Entertainment [RAVE] Authority finally leased the naming rights to the MetroCentre.
RAVE leased those rights to BMO Harris Bank for a period a five years and a total of $1.3 million, according to a Rockford Register-Star report.
The MetroCentre will now be known as BMO Harris Bank Center.
Blackhawks President and CEO John McDonough spoke at the press conference at the MetroCentre on Friday. Harris is also a prime sponsor of the Blackhawks. The Rockford deal actually isn’t completely finalized, but a joint memorandum indicated all points will be in place by December 15.
The arena management giant S.M.G. brokered the deal. S.M.G. has been responsible for booking the MetroCentre since last September. BMO Harris had already been sponsoring the winter synthetic outdoor ice rink a couple of blocks from the arena at Davis Park, which the RAVE Authority also oversees.
A “grand re-opening” is planned for the IceHogs preseason home opener on September 28.
The ‘BMO’ comes from Bank of Montreal. I am not making this up – The correct pronunciation on the abbreviation BMO is “Bee-mo”. So this season, if you take in an IceHogs’ home game, you should say you’re headed to the Bee-Mo, or Bee-mo Harris Bank Center. Read more
Posted in News and Notes
Tagged Andrew Allen, Ben Simon, Brett McLean, Chris Campoli, Chris Chelios, Darren Pang, Dennis Rodman, Eddie Olczyk, Enrico Ciccone, Flames, Gary Suter, Greg Fox, Hockeenight, IceHogs, Ivan Boldirev, James Black, Jason Morgan, Jeremy Roenick, MetroCentre, Michael Nylander, Neil Wilkinson, Nikolai Khabibulin, Owen Nolan, RAVE, Robbie Earl, Theo Fleury, Wayne Gretzky
It appears Cristobal Huet will ride out the final year of his Blackhawks’ contract in Europe again this season. Huet is apparently in negotiations to rejoin Fribourg-Gotteron of Switzerland’s National-A league for their 2011-12 season. There had been reports in French and German newspapers indicating Huet was set to join the team for a second season. However, a statement released by Fribourg-Gotteron on Tuesday stated that a loan agreement with the Blackhawks is not yet finalized.
Should a deal be worked out, Huet would again be teammates with former Chicago Wolves’ winger Simon Gamache. He’d also have a new one. Former Blackhawk defenseman and 2003 2nd round pick (59th overall), Michal Barinka has joined Fribourg-Gotteron after time in the Czech and KHL (Yaroslavl) leagues last season.
Despite a strong 2010-11 campaign, Huet was unable to carry a lackluster Fribourg-Gotteron roster above their 22-22-3-3 record, good enough for an 8th place finish out of 12 teams. Huet did not play well, nor did he get much help, in the team’s brief 4-games-to-none playoff exit at the hands of eventual Swiss league champion, HC Davos.
Fribourg opens training camp this week. Their regular season begins on the road, September 9th against Jussi Markkanen, Andy Wozniewski, Glen Metropolit; members of EV Zug. Read more
Posted in News and Notes
Tagged Becky Conner, Bobby Hull, Brent Sopel, Bryan Bickell, Chris Chelios, Colin Fraser, Craig MacTavish, Cristobal Huet, Gary Suter, Jake Dowell, Jimmy Hayes, John Torchetti, Kevyn Adams, Kyle Beach, Mike Peluso, Novokuznetsk, Ryan Kesler, Stan Mikita, Tony Amonte
Sunday was Bob Probert Day in his hometown Windsor, Ontario. 800 motorcyclists turned out for a memorial charity ride supporting a local hospital’s angioplasty program. Chris Chelios was there and served as honorary “captain” for the ride. July 5th is the one-year anniversary of Probert’s death.
Later on Sunday, Chelios was on hand at Detroit’s Fox Theatre for his buddy Eddie Vedder’s solo show. Vedder is at the Chicago Theatre tomorrow and Wednesday night. This was a big thrill for Chelios. I guess he kind of had to be there. During Vedder’s two and a half hour set Sunday, he dedicated his version of Bob Dylan’s “Forever Young” to Chelios. Detroit wasn’t a scheduled stop on Vedder’s current U.S. tour until Chelios did some persuading on his friend and Pearl Jam frontman. To oblige, Vedder cancelled an additional planned show in Philadelphia.
Chelios and Vedder met in San Diego in 1980-81 in that beach community’s surfing scene, in the summer months where the Chelios clan lived. They also worked for a time at opposite gas stations across the street from each other. The pair didn’t keep in touch and Chelios never put two and two together even after Pearl Jam burst onto the scene ten years later and Chelios became a fan. Back in San Diego, Eddie Vedder was actually Eddie Mueller. But one night in 1997, Vedder was out with Dennis Rodman in Chicago and happened to be at the same bar as Chelios. Vedder recognized Chelios, but as he put it (Vedder wasn’t a hockey fan), not from being a star NHL player, but from their old haunts on the surf. Vedder recounted to Chelios how the two knew each other from San Diego, but didn’t introduce himself as the famous rock singer and Chelios still didn’t put that together on his own. Vedder walked away realizing Chelios hadn’t the faintest recollection or idea who Vedder was. Shortly after, one of Vedder’s bodyguards (he is legitimately 5’4”) walked over and clued Chelios in and the two exchanged phone numbers. At times Chelios has arranged his summer schedule around Pearl Jam and Vedder shows in Chicago and Detroit. In 2008, Chelios planned his two days with the Stanley Cup around a Cubs game and a Vedder show at the Auditorium Theatre. A night John Cusak, John C McGinley (Scrubs) and Sean Penn were also on hand for. Chelios got a mixed reaction from the Chicago crowd when he raised the Stanley Cup under a spotlight from a balcony box in a planned spot to start Vedder’s set.
Brian Campbell says ex-teammates of his want to join him in Florida. NHL.com Read more
Posted in News and Notes
Tagged Alexander Karopovtsev, Bernie Nicholls, Bill Peters, Billy Sweatt, Bob Murray, Brian Campbell, Bruce Cassidy, Bryan McCabe, Chicago Wolves, Chris Chelios, Colin Fraser, Columbus Blue Jackets, Dale Tallon, Dennis Rodman, Dustin Byfuglien, Eddie Vedder, Jeff Carter, Los Angeles Kings, Michael Grabner, Mike Richards, Mike Smith, Nicklas Bergfors, Sedins, Sheldon Souray, Steve Poapst, Theo Fleury, Trent Yawney
By Rich Lindbloom
“The winner of the game is the player who makes the next to last blunder.” – Savielly Tartakower
Chess, like hockey, is a game that is divided into three distinct time frames. In chess they are called the opening, the middle game and the endgame. The Blackhawks misfortunes in the third period this year resurfaced some disturbing memories from back in the mid 70’s when I attended Loyola University. Mike McPartlin, (who was quite a hockey player for Mt. Carmel and Loyola in his day), and I used play chess quite often during that span of time. Even though in my mind I always dominated in the first two segments, Mike always took over in the endgame – or at least waited to pounce like a cougar on my inevitable blunder. I’m not sure I ever defeated him, although until this day I remain unconvinced he was the better player. I just had to congratulate him on his immense luck more than I would have liked too. Read more
[Update] Corey Crawford is starting in goal for the Hawks today at Anaheim. (Twitter.com/ChrisKuc)
Defenseman Garnet Exelby agreed to a two-way (NHL/AHL) contract with the Blackhawks yesterday. As a necessary procedural thing, the Blackhawks then had to place Exelby on 24-hour waivers. Once Exelby passes through his contract then becomes official. If another team were to claim Exelby by 11am today, that team would then assume his new contract.
According to a CapGeek.com report this morning, Exelby’s contract is valued at the league-minimum $500,000 at the NHL level, and $105,000 in the AHL.
Exelby, 29, signed a professional tryout contract with the Rockford IceHogs on October 8th and was named team captain twenty-eight days later.
While a member of the Toronto Maple Leafs organization last season, Exelby appeared in 51 games with the Leafs, registering 1 goal and 3 assists. He was then in the final year of a three-year contract that paid him $1.725M.
This season, Exelby has appeared in 18 of the IceHogs 19 games (only missing the team’s opener the day after he signed). So far Exelby has no points and owns a minus-4 overall plus/minus rating.
Exelby is a physical, stay-at-home defenseman. He’s not the fleetest of foot but he gets to where he needs to be and typically plays within his known limitations. Exelby is a part of Rockford’s go-to crew of penalty killers and is almost never used on the power play. Read more
TTMI~Radio returns tonight at 8pm (central). We’ll try to make sense of these Blackhawks, and the Rockford IceHogs inconsistencies, part one of the ‘Circus Trip’ and look ahead to this week’s games with the three California teams. We may have a special guest but it isn’t confirmed.
– Dustin Byfuglien is acquitting himself quite well so far in Atlanta.
Byfuglien ranks 3rd among NHL defenseman in scoring with 19 points (7 goals, 12 assists) in 21 games. Nicklas Lidstrom and John-Michael Liles are tied for first, each with 20 points. Byfuglien (E), Ron Hainsey (E) and Brent Sopel (+3) are the only three Thrasher defenseman not in the negative in the plus/minus category. Byfuglien is currently paired with Tobias Enstrom. Byfuglien is tied with Steven Stamkos and Rick Nash for most game-winning goals (4). And he’s tied with Ilya Kovalchuk at the top of the board in overtime goals with two.
For comparison’s sake:
Dustin Byfuglien: 21gp, 7g, 12a, 19pts, E +/-, $3,000,000
Dave Bolland: 17gp, 1g, 3a, 4pts, +2 +/-, $3,375,000
Rockford IceHogs notes:
– Following the impressive 1-0, Hannu Toivonen-led victory on Thursday in Winnipeg, the IceHogs dropped Friday’s rematch with Manitoba 3-1 before 14,134 fans at MTS Centre. After flying back to Chicago on Saturday and busing back to Rockford for the night, the IceHogs traveled to Peoria on Sunday where they battled hard but lost a 3-2 shootout decision to the Rivermen. I did a combined recap of these two games Sunday night, which I’ll post on the site once I figure out how to undo the laptop. Read more
Posted in Game recap, IceHogs, News and Notes
Tagged Andrew Ebbett, Bill Mosienko, Brian Connelly, Chris Chelios, Denis Savard, Doug Bentley, Dustin Byfuglien, Gaye Stewart, Glenn Hall, Harold March, Harry Dick, Jeremy Morin, Kyle Beach, Nick Leddy, Pierre Pilote, Sam Fels, Stan Mikita, Steve Larmer, Tony Esposito
Marian Hossa was married in Slovakia on Saturday. Story and pics here. (thanks to reader Dave for link)
– While the Blackhawks have made no official announcement yet, Adam Jahns of the Sun-Times reported Thursday that Jack Skille has agreed to a one-year contract that will pay him $600,000. This is roughly a 29% pay decrease from his entry-level contract. We talked about this on Thursday’s TTMI~Radio.
Skille received a qualifying offer (standard 1-year offer at 110% rate of prior year’s salary) in late June but chose to negotiate down to give himself a more cap-friendly contract. Because of it, Skille is now an odds-on favorite to make the NHL club. His speed and shooting ability still make the 23 year old an enticing prospect, but he’s never shown an ability to apply those tools in the NHL, the way he has in the minors. Before Viktor Stalberg‘s arrival, Skille was the natural replacement for Versteeg. Skille can throw his weight around, but its not his strength and he’s been overwhelmed going that route when with the Hawks. He figures in as a third-line guy, which means he has to score. Trouble is, as a shooter, he’s predictable and one-dimensional. To be successful, he must go into the danger areas and score dirty goals. He did a better job of that last year than ever before, when he was mostly a perimeter player. Depending on how close Stan Bowman cuts his roster under the cap, training camp may still wind down to a battle between Kyle Beach and Skille for that third-line spot. Skille isn’t a fourth line player and Beach will start in Rockford if he cant win a spot with the top three lines.
– According to published reports, and also still unannounced, Russian winger Igor Makarov, 22, signed a two-year, two-way contract with the Hawks last week. His cap hit (unconfirmed) is said to be $552,000. Makarov needs a little work and will start in the AHL with Rockford. He was an exciting prospect, but his progression has been stunted in limited playing time in the KHL the past two seasons. Makarov will turn 23 in September. In the times I’ve seen him, he’s shown to have a great shot and reasonably quick release. There are a lot of politics involved in who does and who doesn’t get ice time in Russia, but you’d think if Makarov’s talents were at the level of an NHL-er or at least a top prospect, he’d have been given much more playing time. Read more
Posted in Blackhawks, Contract Signing, News and Notes
Tagged Antti Niemi, Chris Chelios, Craig Muni, Gerard Butler, Igor Makarov, Jack Skille, Jeremy Roenick, Jonathan Toews, Kris Versteeg, Marian Hossa, Mike Modano, Steve Smith, Steve Thomas, Valeri Zelepukin, Vince Vaughn