Chicago Blackhawks: NHL Lockout

Hawks intent on winning over fans

January, 13, 2013
1/13/13
4:55
PM CT
Powers By Scott Powers
ESPNChicago.com
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CHICAGO -- Chicago Blackhawks president/CEO John McDonough vowed Sunday the Blackhawks would do whatever they have to win back their fans following the NHL’s four-month lockout.

“The message to our fans is very simple,” McDonough said at a news conference at the United Center. “We are going to have to earn our way back. We do take any of this for granted -- their loyalty. And we have an organizational commitment to win. Our expectations here, as always, are very high, and we are totally committed to winning.

“Again to our fans, we don’t take any of this for granted. It was a difficult period for all of us. But we certainly respect and understand it was particularly difficult for you. And we’re going to do everything we can to earn their allegiance back.”

McDonough wouldn’t get into specifics, but he said the Blackhawks would reveal “fan initiatives” later in the week.

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Blackhawks set to opening training camp on Sunday

January, 12, 2013
1/12/13
11:02
PM CT
Powers By Scott Powers
ESPNChicago.com
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The Chicago Blackhawks announced details to their upcoming season on Saturday night after the NHL lockout had officially ended.

The Blackhawks will open their training camp at Johnny's IceHouse West (2550 W. Madison St.) in Chicago at 12 p.m. on Sunday. Blackhawks practices at Johnny's IceHouse West are open to the public.

The Blackhawks did cancel their training camp festival due to the condensed schedule. Tickets purchased on the internet and phone will be automatically refunded. All other refunds can be made at the point-of-purchase or by returning the tickets to the Blackhawks.

The Blackhawks begin their season in Los Angeles against the defending Stanley Cup champion Kings on Saturday, Jan. 19. The Blackhawks will host their home opener on Tuesday, Jan. 22 against the St. Louis Blues.

Tickets for the upcoming regular season can be purchased at ticketmaster.com or at (800) 745-3000. Fans holding tickets for originally scheduled games will be contacted with further information. Fans can also visit chicagoblackhawks.com or call (312) 455-7000.

Blackhawks chairman Rocky Wirtz and Blackhawks president and CEO John McDonough co-signed a letter to the fans on Saturday night. It read:

"On behalf of the Chicago Blackhawks, we would like to thank you for your patience and loyalty over the past few months. It is imperative that we now look forward in order to prepare and to focus on the exciting season ahead.

"We are committed to a mission of consistent excellence, both on and off the ice. This high standard fuels our passion to reward your allegiance to our franchise. We are looking forward to experiencing the electric atmosphere and energy that you bring to the United Center for every game."

Blackhawks games will be televised on Comcast SportsNet Chicago and WGN-TV Channel 9 this season. Pat Foley and Eddie Olczyk will announce the television games. The games will also be heard on WGN 720-AM, which will include the announcing team of John Wiedeman and Troy Murray.

Since winning the Stanley Cup in 2010, the Blackhawks have exited the playoffs in the first round the past two seasons. They were eliminated in seven games by the Vancouver Canucks in 2011 and in six games by the Phoenix Coyotes in 2012.

Mixed emotions for Blackhawks fans as the NHL returns

January, 12, 2013
1/12/13
2:56
PM CT
Powers By Scott Powers
ESPNChicago.com
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The NHL and the Chicago Blackhawks are returning. The question is whether you, the fan, will do the same.

That's what we recently asked our readers, and the answers poured in from young and old throughout the world. Blackhawks fans are undoubtedly passionate about their team, and that's revealing in their responses.

Here's the collection of emails we received this past week from Blackhawks fans on their feelings about their team, the lockout and the upcoming season:

"I get it's a business move, but it's just that. They took nothing into consideration concerning fans. The very people that support the league and teams. We, the fans, spend our hard-earned money saving up to go to games and buy merch. The owners seem to take us for granted and it’s a shame. They know whenever they decide to work out a deal we will come back. Us diehards, the ones that stay up late to watch every game including West Coast games when we have to be up early for work the next day and know it'll be a long day, but at least we got to see our team play (and hopefully win). Us who not only love the Hawks, but hockey in general. People who will watch any games on TV and even purchase the Center Ice package because hockey is OUR sport. We don't live for football, baseball, or NASCAR. They took away our escape from the rigors of everyday society, the ability to kick back and watch our teams play. This diehard won’t be coming right back." -- Denis Burns, 26, Minooka, Ill.

"From my part, there is no resentment towards the players nor the owners. The NHL is a business, and all of us would do the exact same thing if put in the same situations. Owners and players were trying to get the best deal possible, and all of us would do the same. That's why there are strikes. If a bus driver goes on strike, he knows it will affect the people that need the bus to go to work, but he is doing what is best for him. I know that players and owners have a lot more money, but business is business." -- Alexandre Farripas, 23, Portugal

"I'm extremely frustrated with the NHL, and that it took this long from a bunch of guys who ‘care about the game.’ It's about money to them -- plain and simple. For me, boycotting games or broadcasts does nothing for me; I am a hockey fan and I want hockey. My response: buy Stanley Cup Finals tickets (hopefully for the Hawks!) and ‘boo’ Bettman out of the building." -- Mike Bragg, 20, Oak Lawn, Ill.

"Yes, I will be back. As mad as I was at both sides, I am glad they are back and can't wait to go to my first game. Kind of reminds me of the Prodigal Son. No matter how many mistakes the owners and players have made, it is still really great to have them back!!" -- Shelly Gottlieb, 52, Greenwood, Ind.

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Five things to watch for Blackhawks

January, 6, 2013
1/06/13
4:18
PM CT
Rogers By Jesse Rogers
ESPNChicago.com
Archive
Jonathan ToewsAnne-Marie Sorvin/US PresswireJonathan Toews and the Blackhawks should be rested and ready when games begin.


CHICAGO -- As the NHL lockout nears an end and we await the official details on a shortened season, here are five things to keep an eye on regarding the Chicago Blackhawks -- and their chances at a second Stanley Cup championship in four years.

1. Health: The extended period of time between games should mean the Hawks, like all teams, will be healthy as the season begins. It may have been a coincidence, but last year their regular season tanked after edgy forward Dan Carcillo went down with a knee injury and their playoff chances went south when Marian Hossa suffered a vicious shot to the head at the hands of Phoenix Coyotes forward Raffi Torres. Carcillo and Hossa are healthy now, although they haven’t taken contact since their injuries, as is Jonathan Toews, who pushed himself to come back from a concussion for the postseason. New injuries will certainly occur in a shortened year, but at least the Hawks can start with a clean slate for several star players.

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NHL cancels all games through Dec. 30

December, 10, 2012
12/10/12
1:36
PM CT
Strang By Katie Strang
ESPNChicago.com
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The NHL announced Monday that all games have been canceled through Dec. 30. There had already been 422 regular-season games lost through Dec. 14 because of the lockout, and the latest cuts on Day 86 of the league shutdown claimed 104 more. The NHL also has called off the New Year's Day Winter Classic and the All-Star game.

In all, the 526 lost games account for nearly 43 percent of the regular season that was scheduled to begin Oct. 11.The NHL announced Monday that all games have been canceled through Dec. 30. There had already been 422 regular-season games lost through Dec. 14 because of the lockout, and the latest cuts on Day 86 of the league shutdown claimed 104 more. The NHL also has called off the New Year's Day Winter Classic and the All-Star game.

In all, the 526 lost games account for nearly 43 percent of the regular season that was scheduled to begin Oct. 11.

Read the entire story.

Progress isn't the end for Bettman

December, 5, 2012
12/05/12
5:31
PM CT
Burnside By Scott Burnside
ESPNChicago.com
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NEW YORK -- As the pinprick of light on the black canvas of the NHL lockout threatens to become a full-fledged beacon of light, already there is a rush to anoint the winners and losers, the heroes and goats.

That's life.

And while it may be a fool's errand to try to ferret out who bested whom in a wholly preventable labor stoppage -- with said labor stoppage still technically under way even though Wednesday marked more good news with continued forward traction between the players and the owners -- such discussion provides a window into future labor battles and the future of embattled NHL commissioner Gary Bettman.

Is Bettman a genius for suggesting that he and his NHL Players' Association counterpart, executive director Donald Fehr, step away from the process after a failed attempt at federal mediation last week?

Credit Bettman for understanding that with the season hanging in the balance, the air had become so toxic in those rare moments the two sides actually found enough reason to be in the same room that the loathing and mistrust trumped all other issues and that the two men stepping back would allow that air to be cleared.

And likewise, credit Fehr, whose plodding strategies had made league officials crazy during this process, for going along with the idea even though his first reaction must have been to tell Bettman to stuff it.

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Penguins' power play brings deal closer

December, 5, 2012
12/05/12
10:42
AM CT
LeBrun By Pierre LeBrun
ESPNChicago.com
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NEW YORK -- The players emerged from the room around midnight and scurried down the hotel escalator past reporters, unwilling to share much, if anything.

The smiles on some of their faces, however, suggested it wasn’t a bad day at all.

As one player would later share via text message to ESPN.com, "There was certainly traction. But I don’t want to say more."

That cautious optimism -- the key word being cautious -- was on full display when NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly and NHLPA outside counsel Steve Fehr stood shoulder to shoulder in a joint media availability after the marathon sessions, Fehr calling it possibly the best day in the entire process, while Daly nodded in agreement.

But other than that, both sides were tight-lipped. Like a pitcher working on a no-hitter through six innings, it’s too early to get too excited.

I’d be ready to say this, however: I’m willing to bet there’s a far greater chance of hockey this season than not after Tuesday’s developments.

Read the entire story.

Time to decertify? Not so fast

December, 3, 2012
12/03/12
12:52
PM CT
Custance By Craig Custance
ESPNChicago.com
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DecertificationESPN.com Illustration

On Tuesday, a small group of NHL owners and players will meet to try to find a breakthrough in CBA talks without the presence of NHL commissioner Gary Bettman and NHLPA executive director Donald Fehr.

On Wednesday, those six owners will join the rest of the board of governors for their meeting in New York, where the fate of the season could very well be decided if no progress is made.

As for the players, a Tuesday meeting without progress would push them closer to a step they've so far managed to delay: decertification.

They're not there yet, but they're getting closer.

"I think they're a lot closer to Armageddon than they ever were during the last lockout," said a veteran agent who requested anonymity.

Make no mistake, a full-on decertification would be Armageddon. Although it might not be necessary.

Read the entire story.

However lockout ends, Bettman must go

November, 30, 2012
11/30/12
7:29
PM CT
Rogers By Jesse Rogers
ESPNChicago.com
Archive
When Gary Bettman and the NHL players association finally sign off on the next collective bargaining agreement it should be the last action taken by the much maligned commissioner for his much maligned league. It’s time to step aside.

Of course, that could be in a week, month or year, but whenever the sides come to terms it needs to be the end for Bettman.

Let me be clear, Bettman might be right about every aspect of this fight (though he’s not), yet he’s still in the wrong. Simply put, his bedside manner has been horrific. His negotiating tactics have been awful. We’ve all forgotten what the definition of commissioner used to be. It’s faded over the last couple of decades. Call me na´ve but last time I checked Bettman is the commissioner of the league. That includes the owners, players, zamboni drivers and Blackhawks Ice Girls. When exactly did the word commissioner become “puppet for the owners?” He should be held to a higher standard and that includes in the negotiating process, even if he is representing the owners.

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Lockout wipes out 15 more Hawks games

October, 26, 2012
10/26/12
1:14
PM CT
Rogers By Jesse Rogers
ESPNChicago.com
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CHICAGO -- The league's announcement on Friday that all November games in the NHL have been canceled due to the lockout means 15 more Chicago Blackhawks games are wiped out, including the annual circus trip.

The Hawks lost two games against the defending Stanley Cup champion Los Angeles Kings along with contests against rivals San Jose and Vancouver. An Original Six matchup between Chicago and Toronto has been canceled as well as a showdown with Sidney Crosby and the Pittsburgh Penguins.

Every year around Thanksgiving, the Blackhawks head west for up to eight games due to the circus taking over the United Center, but that trip has now been canceled.

In all, the NHL has canceled the first two months of the regular season with a league-imposed deadline passing on Thursday, meaning a re-worked schedule to play 82 games is now impossible even if the sides worked out a contract for a new collective bargaining agreement.

With Friday's announcement, expect more players to search for work overseas. Patrick Kane announced earlier this week he would play in Switzerland beginning next week.

NHL plans to withdraw proposal

October, 25, 2012
10/25/12
4:40
PM CT
By Pierre LeBrun | ESPN.com
ESPNChicago.com
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The NHL will withdraw its latest proposal to the NHL Players' Association once Thursday's deadline to have a new deal in place comes and goes.

There were no talks held again Thursday and none have been held since last week's NHL proposal and counter-proposals from the NHLPA.

"When we delivered the proposal last Tuesday, we told them it would be on the table through today," NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly told ESPN.com Thursday afternoon. "Having not reached agreement through today, I expect that we'll formally notify the union Friday that the proposal is no longer on the table. We're going to take it back internally and figure out where we go from here."

Daly was also quick to stress that he wasn't threatening the players in any way, but underlying what the league expressed to the NHLPA last week when it delivered the proposal.

"This proposal no longer works because it was a proposal to save 82 games," Daly said. "We have to re-think where we are, and what type of season we're looking at, and we have to formulate and construct a proposal that makes sense for the reality of where we are."

Read the entire story here.

Kane to skate in charity game, then head overseas

October, 23, 2012
10/23/12
10:20
PM CT
Rogers By Jesse Rogers
ESPNChicago.com
Archive
CHICAGO – Chicago Blackhawks star Patrick Kane's decision to bolt for Europe isn’t any more of an indication that talks between the league and the players association aren’t going well. That notion doesn’t need more evidence. It just means he’s restless and wants to play hockey.

[+] EnlargePatrick Kane
Dennis Wierzbicki/US PresswirePatrick Kane won't head to Switzerland until after Friday's "Champs for Charity" game.
Though a new CBA doesn’t seem to be nearing completion, that could change at any time and Kane would be back. Expect more of his teammates to join him overseas as the calendar moves towards November.

The good news is that Kane held off joining EHC Biel in the Swiss league until after the “Champs for Charity” game is played on Friday at the AllState Arena.

"Everyone is very appreciative that Patrick held off going to Europe until after the game,” NHL agent and game organizer Bill Zito said. “That was a class act and I know the Ronald McDonald House will benefit because of it.”

Kane will join many of the Blackhawks who won a Stanley Cup in 2010, and other NHL players, for what’s shaping up to be a memorable night -- all to benefit the Ronald McDonald House of Chicago. Adam Burish, Andrew Ladd, Troy Brouwer, Kris Versteeg and Brian Campbell will skate with their former teammates while other former Hawks like James Wisniewski, Jim Vandermeer, Jake Dowell and Craig Anderson will also participate.

Facing the Hawks will be a team consisting of Bobby Ryan of the Anaheim Ducks, Ryan Suter of the Minnesota Wild, Ville Leino of the Buffalo Sabres, Nicklas Backstrom of the Washington Capitals, Kimmo Timonen of the Philadelphia Flyers and Joe Corvo of the Carolina Hurricanes, to name a few. The final rosters will be set in the coming days.

It may not be the hockey everyone was hoping for at this time of year but an early reunion of many of the 2010 Blackhawks can’t be a bad thing for a fan base starving for the NHL to return. The only question is: How competitive will the game be?

“That’s the goal,” Patrick Sharp said recently. “We’ve been working out with each other for a long time now. It will be fun to play a real game.”

It might be the only chance for Chicagoans to see their favorite players for a while as Kane and others are bound for Europe. At least some good will come of the lockout. The Ronald McDonald House of Chicagoland is hoping to raise $250,000 through sponsors and ticket sales. It might turn out to be the only positive of a situation that’s been bleak since summer.

Tickets are available through Ticketmaster. Game time is 7:30 p.m. on Friday.

Hawks' games vs. Sharks, Coyotes canceled

October, 19, 2012
10/19/12
2:09
PM CT
Rogers By Jesse Rogers
ESPNChicago.com
Archive
CHICAGO -- Add two more cancelled games to the five already eliminated from the Chicago Blackhawks' schedule as all NHL contests were cancelled through Nov.1, the league announced on Friday.

The decision comes one day after talks broke down between the NHL and the players association in an attempt to end a work stoppage that has canceled the entire preseason and now the first month of the regular season.

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Bettman 'thoroughly disappointed' by counteroffer

October, 19, 2012
10/19/12
12:30
PM CT
By ESPN.com news services
ESPNChicago.com
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TORONTO -- NHL commissioner Gary Bettman received three counterproposals from the players' association on Thursday and left the negotiating table "thoroughly disappointed."

No new talks have been scheduled, and the possibility of a full hockey regular season is quickly shrinking.

Read the entire story.

2010 Hawks to fill void with charity game

October, 17, 2012
10/17/12
8:43
PM CT
Rogers By Jesse Rogers
ESPNChicago.com
Archive
video

CHICAGO -- It wasn't that long ago that Adam Burish, Patrick Sharp, Brian Campbell, Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews were on a stage answering questions from the press during the Blackhawks' run to the 2010 Stanley Cup. The five reunited Wednesday to officially announce a charity hockey game -- "Champs for Charity" -- that will take place Oct. 26 featuring members of that team and other NHL players unable to play due to a work stoppage.

[+] EnlargeChicago Blackhawks
AP Photo/Kathy WillensMembers of the 2010 Stanley Cup champion Blackhawks -- along with others unable to play because of the NHL lockout -- will reunite Oct. 26 in the name of charity.
"We want to give fans that are starving for hockey something to watch and we want to give back to this charity," former Hawk Burish said from the Ronald McDonald House on Grande Ave.

They'll do just that when they take the ice at the All-State Arena in what the players hope is more than just a leisurely skate.

"To put together a competitive game was the idea," Burish said.

That idea came from Burish and his agent, Bill Zito, who spoke of his own personal situation involving a family member who had recently been hospitalized for a long stay. They want the Ronald McDonald House to benefit, knowing what families go through in caring for sick ones. Their goal is to raise $250,000.

"I didn't know what my plan was, to play (in charity game) or go overseas," Kane said. "I'm excited about it."

Kane said he was close to signing in Europe but that's on hold now because of the game and potential movement in CBA discussions, though players were more than cautious regarding the latest proposal from the league.

"As long as they don't think it's their final drastic attempt to salvage an 82-game season," Toews said. "If they were that desperate to preserve an 82-game season and get things done, this would have be done already. There's no real effort there. It's just a ploy to sway a positive light back in their favor. It's still a small movement but hopefully it's something we can work off of."

Toews said he will fly to Toronto on Tuesday night to assist in negotiations within the players association. In the meantime, other members of the 2010 Stanley Cup winning Hawks will prepare for the charity game.

"He's looking forward to playing on a line with me," Burish quipped of good friend Sharp.

"I think it's a pretty good coincidence Great Clips is the main sponsor of the game," Sharp shot back to the raggedy-haired Burish.

This kind of back-and-forth was -- and still is -- a signature of the 2010 championship team. It will always be linked, and now many will take the ice together for the first time since leaving it with the Cup in Philadelphia that June.

"It's a great group," Campbell said. "It's nice to get together with one another. It'll be fun to get back in the locker room."

Andrew Ladd, Kris Versteeg and others will join their former teammates for the game while Burish says others will commit as the game gets closer. It'll be a diversion from the business side of hockey which has dominated the headlines during a lockout which began in mid-September. And it will benefit a charity while bringing together an iconic team that fans fell in love with.

"It's a great opportunity to get the guys back together but it's for the fans more than anything," Sharp said. "Some of the guys from the Cup team haven't even had a chance to come back and play against the Hawks so it will be nice to get those guys out. ... No one cares about Burish, we've had enough of him. You saw at the press conference, guys are excited to get back together and make fun of each other just like we used to."

Tickets for "Champs for Charity" can be purchased at Ticketmaster.

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