Tag Archive | "chicago black hawks"

Ben Eager signs one-year deal with Atlanta

Another NHL arbitration was avoided when the Atlanta Thrashers agreed to a contract with restricted free agent forward Ben Eager.

Eager, 26, appeared in 60 games with the Chicago Blackhawks last season, earning 16 points (seven goals, nine assists) and a team-leading 120 penalty minutes and added one goal and two assists in 18 Stanley Cup Playoff games in Chicago’s journey to win the championship.

The Ottawa, Ontario native has carrers numbers that include (27 goals, 25 assists, 52 points) and 621 penalty minutes in 255 career NHL games with Chicago and Philadelphia.  Eager has also posted five points (two goals, three assists) in 37 Stanley Cup Playoff games with the Blackhawks and Flyers. 

The 6-2, 230-pound left wing tallied 35 points (13 goals, 22 assists) and 509 penalty minutes in 123 career AHL games with the Philadelphia Phantoms from 2003 to 2007.  He collected three points (one goal, two assists) in 19 AHL playoff games and helped the Phantoms capture the 2005 Calder Cup Championship.

Prior to his professional career, Eager recorded 139 points (59 goals, 80 assists) in 243 career Ontario Hockey League games with the Oshawa Generals from 2000 to 2004.  He also tallied four points (one goal, three assists) for Team Canada at the 2002 Under-18 World Junior Championship.

Eager was originally selected by the Phoenix Coyotes in the first round, 23rd overall, of the 2002 NHL Entry Draft.

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Cubs fans see Stanley Cup and near-no-no

How do I best describe the atmosphere inside Wrigley Field last night? Electrified. Ted Lilly, in his post game interview said he couldn’t believe the energy inside the park, saying the closest comparison he could make was during the 2001 World Series.

The evening started with a buzz because the Stanley Cup Champion Chicago Blackhawks were going to be at Wrigley for a pre-game ceremony with hockey’s Holy Grail. Security was tight as I watched 10 mounted police go by my bleacher seats on Waveland.

As time grew close to seeing the team and the Cup, anticipation levels rose – even brief rain shower couldn’t dampen the excitement building inside Wrigley Field. And then the Blackhawks appeared in right field to the cheers of more than 40,000 fans.

Acknowledging the crowd, the Hawks paraded the Cup around the ballpark, and where possible, shook hands with fans. The Cup was placed on the pitcher’s mound and John McDonough, once in marketing with the Cubs, threw out the first pitch. Both the Cubs and White Sox posed with the Hawks and the Cup for photos, and some even got to hold the Cup. This in itself was worth going out to Wrigley last night. Seeing a championship anything inside Wrigley was an extremely rare occurrence.

Cheers turned to boos as Ozzie Guillen was handed the Stanley Cup. Earlier in the day, Guillen said that the White Sox parade after they won the 2005 World Series was bigger than the estimated 2 million that showed up for the Blackhawks parade. Cubs fans commented that when the Cubs win the World Series, our parade would dwarf both.

The place was still buzzing about the Cup when fans realized there was another story breaking. Both White Sox pitcher Gavin Floyd and Cubs pitcher Ted Lilly were throwing no hitters, and it was into the fifth inning.

Fans started turning their attention to the baseball game, but not fully until after the Hawks sang the Seventh Inning Stretch. At the time, both Floyd and Lilly were still throwing no hitters. Then Alfonso Soriano came to the plate in the bottom of the seventh and hit a double with two outs. The Cubs scored their only run soon after, but that was enough.

Lilly, however, took his no hitter into the ninth, as rain began to fall. Fans that would normally have run for shelter, stayed in their seats, transfixed on the game. However, a no hitter was not to happen at Wrigley last night. Juan Pierre came to the plate to pinch hit for Floyd and hit a clean single to break Lilly’s no-no.

Carlos Marmol came in to shut down the side and the Cubs beat the White Sox 1-0 on a one hitter, avoiding the first White Sox sweep at Wrigley since 1999, in what most were saying was the best game they’ve seen at Wrigley this year and maybe in a very long time.

There were some in the crowd who, while happy the Cubs finally won, bemoaned the fact that Lilly was denied his no-no. One fan lamented he would never see a no hitter. Our group placed the blame on one friend who dared to utter the words “no hitter,” while columnist George Castle shouldered the blame, calling himself the no-no jinx.

I know I’m not the jinx. I refused to even try to jinx it for Floyd, thinking perhaps it would work against Lilly and just watched, transfixed. Some of us were lucky enough to see Carlos Zambrano pitch a no hitter in Milwaukee against the Astros after the game was moved from Houston because of Hurricane Ike. That was a pinnacle moment in my personal sports history, but seeing a no-no at Wrigley would top everything except seeng the Cubs win the World Series at home.

The Cubs do need to be careful when they travel to U.S. Cellular Field in a couple of weeks. In two days Cubs pitchers hit five Sox batters. While some expected some retaliation last night, it could come at the hands of the Sox in their own ballpark.

Re-printed with permission of the author.

In addition to contributing to Sports Climax, Miriam Romain maintains a Chicago Cubs column for Examiner.com. The Chicago native has also been published in several Cubs annuals by Maple Street Press and is writing a book with the working title “Summers at Wrigley with my Dad.”

Copyright © 2010 Sports Climax, LLC

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Dustin Byfuglien Chicago Black Hawks Feature

Previously published in USA Hockey Magazine April 2009 Edition

CHICAGO – In a day of banged-up economies, collapsing housing markets and difficult daily challenges, if you are searching for an inspirational story, look no further than the Chicago Blackhawks forward Dustin Byfuglien.Dustin Byfuglien Photo

Since being chosen in the late rounds of the 2003 NHL Entry Draft by the Blackhawks, the 23-year-old Minneapolis native has beaten the odds and evolved from NHL prospect to becoming a permanent fixture on a revitalized Blackhawks’ roster.

While the ‘Hawks dress the youngest roster in the NHL and are building a winner around young superstars Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews, Byfuglien is becoming a vital piece of the puzzle.

Looking to use Byfuglien’s hulking 6-foot-3 frame to create traffic in front of the net, Chicago moved the rugged defenseman to forward, and the move has paid huge dividends. Byfuglien responded with a breakout season in 2007-08 tallying 19 goals and 17 assists in just 67 games, finishing fifth on the team in scoring. That same season, he recorded his first career hat trick in a span of just 5:39 against Phoenix on Nov. 30.

“At first I didn’t like the move because I didn’t have experience playing forward. I had no choice but to adapt so I did,” said Byfuglien. “Playing with good players like we have, I adapted quickly and now I’m pretty much there to stay.”

When asked about Byfuglien, Chicago head coach Joel Quenneville had nothing but praise for his young winger.
“Buffs is one of those guys who no matter what line he’s on he gives us a contribution,” said Quenneville. “He’s got NHL size and ability. He’s a physical presence. We utilize his size around the net, and he’s got a tremendous shot. Buffs gives us versatility; we have played him on defense as well as forward and use him on the power play.”

The journey to the NHL was full of challenges for Byfuglien. He grew up in a single-parent family, living in a trailer behind his grandmother’s house. While his mother supported the family working in a blue-collar job at a local plant, Dustin spent time with his cousins, skating on the two local outdoor rinks in the neighborhood after getting his first pair of skates when he was about 4 years old.

With American players now commonly going high in the draft, Byfuglien attributes that to the quality of today’s hockey programs.

“The U.S. is coming around in their programs for young kids,” said Byfuglien. “When I was growing up, there were some players from the U.S. getting drafted but not like now. Before, if someone [from the U.S.] got drafted high it was really talked about. Now it’s more common. Many of the top players and top picks are coming from here and that’s great for the kids who want to try to make it.”

In a competitive league like the NHL, it is a difficult challenge even for the top picks to develop and make an NHL roster. Despite being a late round pick, Byfuglien was determined to make it.

After his first call-up from the AHL Norfolk Admirals, Byfuglien stepped onto an NHL sheet of ice for the first time on March 1, 2006 and responded by netting his first NHL goal, the game-winner in a 3-0 win over Nashville. He still refers to that game as his most memorable hockey moment.

When asked about mentors and childhood idols, Dustin is quick to credit his family for guiding him to where he is now.

“Neal Broten was the hometown hero when I was growing up, but I looked up to my cousin Derrick more than I did any of the NHL players at the time,” he said. “My grandfather had a lot to do with my development, too. He always stayed close to me, making sure I was the best player I could possibly be.”

Copyright © 2009 – Sports Climax

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