2010 Stanley Cup finals: Blackhawks' brutal run since '61 Cup

1 Comment

youngkane.jpgEarlier tonight, I took a look at the Flyers’ history since they won a Cup way back in 1975. Stretching back to 1961, it’s not out of order to say the world changed a lot since the Chicago Blackhawks won one. Here’s a timeline of nearly 50 years of heartache.

  • After winning that Cup, the team made it to the Cup finals twice more but couldn’t seal the deal. Still, they were a very competitive team.
  • In 1967, the Blackhawks made one of the worst trades in NHL history. The team sent future goal scoring dynamo (and inspiration for the great paraphrased bumper sticker, “Jesus saves, but Espo puts in the rebound”) Phil Esposito, Ken Hodge and Fred Stanfield to Boston. That move helped fuel that franchise to win a Cup with Bobby Orr.
  • The World Hockey Association lured Bobby Hull away during the 1972-73 season.
  • To go full circle with low moments in trading, the team acquired Orr in 1976. Unfortunately, his knees were basically spaghetti by then.
  • During the early to mid-80s the team featured Denis Savard and generally was competitive but unspectacular.
  • The 1988-89 season was a landmark moment for the franchise, with both Eddie Belfour and Jeremy Roenick playing their rookie years. The team would have some great moments in those years.
  • Including the 1991-92 campaign in which Roenick and Co. made it to the Stanley Cup finals for the first time in 19 years. Unfortunately, the Mario Lemieux-fueled Penguins swept them from the finals.
  • The team would close out Chicago Stadium by 1995.
  • Chicago eventually traded away Roenick, Belfour and Chris Chelios (not to mention losing Dominik Hasek) as the franchise began its spiral to true doom.
  • By February 2004, things declined so severely that ESPN named the Blackhawks the worst franchise in sports. Ouch.
  • This was an era marred by “Dollar” Bill Wirtz, with the biggest blunder being that Blackhawks home games weren’t televised according to logic that might as well have been listed on the walls of a cave.
  • With new GM Dale Tallon, the team began to slowly get things back together starting in the 2004-05 season, but they had a long way to go.
  • Things started to turn around when the Blackhawks chose Jonathan Toews with the third overall pick in the 2006 NHL Entry Draft.
  • A year later, Chicago drafted Patrick Kane with the top pick in 2007.
  • It is undoubtedly macabre, but if you ask many Chicago fans, they will say the biggest turning point occurred when Bill Wirtz passed away on September 26, 2007. His son “Rocky” allowed the team to, you know, enter the century.
  • The 2008-09 season marked the first time the team made the playoffs in the Kane/Toews era.

So, after all that suffering and disappointment, the Blackhawks are only four wins away from winning a Cup and are undeniable favorites. One thing is clear: fans who stuck around since 1961 are among the most deserving of glory in all of sports.

Andrei Markov opts for KHL after saying goodbye to Canadiens

Getty
Leave a comment

Andrei Markov wanted to play his entire career with the Montreal Canadiens. With that option officially off the table, Markov announced that he’s headed for Russia and the KHL.

“I didn’t see myself with any other NHL team,” Markov said during a conference call wrapping up his lengthy stay with the Habs. “I didn’t see myself wearing another jersey.”

(At least not the jersey of another NHL team.)

The 38-year-old also noted that he hasn’t closed the door to a return to Montreal. That makes sense since it seems like it was largely the Canadiens’ decision to part ways with Markov, essentially replacing him with Mark Streit at a heavily discounted rate.

Beyond the comforts of home, Markov was almost certainly motivated to play in the KHL because of the 2018 Winter Olympics.

The veteran blueliner did not mention which KHL team he’ll end up playing for. There were some rumblings that Markov might sign with the Florida Panthers, but that turned out to not be true.

If it’s a one-year deal, a return to the Habs is at least feasible in 2018-19. Considering his age, it sure seems like this is the end of Markov’s lengthy run with the Canadiens, though.

After making NHL debut, Jones re-ups with Isles

Getty
Leave a comment

One of the Isles’ feel-good stories from last season wrote a new chapter on Thursday.

Connor Jones, the undrafted 26-year-old that made his NHL debut in April, has signed a one-year, two-way extension, the club announced.

Jones certainly earned his way to the show. He spent four years at Quinnipiac before catching on with the Oilers, spending time with both their AHL and ECHL affiliates before jumping to the Isles organization in 2015.

Though he’s not an offensive producer — just 19 points in 58 games with Bridgeport last season — Jones emerged as a good energy guy that proved an effective penalty killer.

With AHL Bridgeport, he also played alongside his twin brother, Kellen, who was in attendance as Connor made his NHL debut in April.

Connor would go on to play four games for the Isles, averaging just under 12 minutes per night.

Report: Dwight King could be KHL-bound

Getty
Leave a comment

Dwight King, the burly forward that won a pair of Stanley Cups in Los Angeles, may be on his way to Russia.

Per News 1130 in Vancouver, King is set to sign in the KHL after failing to land a contract this summer. The 28-year-old finished last season in Montreal after spending the first seven years of his NHL career in Los Angeles.

For a time, King was an effective skater for L.A. He posted a career-high 15 goals and 30 points during the ’13-14 campaign, and followed that up with a 13-goal, 26-point effort the year following. He also had a nice showing during the Kings’ 2014 Cup run, finishing with 11 points in 26 games.

King’s biggest issue is his skating ability. At 6-foot-4, 229 pounds, he was never the fleetest of foot, but had been working on his speed this offseason.

More, from Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman:

King is still looking for work after finishing the season in Montreal. There are a few Western Conference teams poking around.

“I’m just looking for an opportunity at this point. I’m going to be on the ice more this year, doing a little more skills and skating. Any bit of improvement I can find.”

King is going to try a couple new teachers, then decide which route to take. One also works with former teammate (and new Golden Knight) Brayden McNabb. King is quite the physical specimen, but will take a new approach. He regularly played at 230–231 pounds, but is going to go to 225–226. And he believes the Western Conference is better for him.

News 1130 reported that Vancouver had shown “mild interest” in King, who just wrapped a three-year $5.85 million deal with a $1.95M cap hit.

King appeared in 17 games for the Habs after being picked up at the deadline last season, scoring once. He went pointless in six playoff games.

McLellan excited about addition of ‘utility player’ Strome

Getty
Leave a comment

To hear Todd McLellan explain it, Ryan Strome could be wearing many hats next season.

That’s what the Oilers head coach said on Wednesday of the former Isles forward, acquired earlier this summer in the Jordan Eberle trade. McLellan expressed excitement over Strome’s ability to play both center and wing.

“He (Strome) is a utility player,” McLellan said, per the Sun. “He has the ability to play center and has in the past. He’s been able to win faceoffs and he’s comfortable on the wing. We have the luxury of moving players around, and as the fans here know, we like to do that.”

That last sentence is clearly a reference to Leon Draisaitl. Draisaitl has flipped back and forth between playing as Edmonton’s No. 2 center and as a winger on the top line alongside Connor McDavid. The talented German’s had success at both, which is why Oilers GM Peter Chiarelli is still unsure if Draisaitl is a center or a winger.

More: Strome pumped at prospect of playing with Draisaitl, McDavid

As for Strome, he certainly gives Edmonton some flexibility — on the ice, and on the books.

With a $2.5 million cap hit (compared to Eberle’s $6M), he’s provided Chiarelli with more cap space to get the Draisaitl contract done. And there’s also the potential for him to be a real bargain. Remember, Strome is only two years removed from a sophomore campaign in which he scored 17 goals and 50 points in 81 contests. His subsequent two years with the Isles were a disappointment, but the talent is still there.

The wildcard in all this is the fact that Strome’s heading into a contract year. He’ll be a restricted free agent next July, so the ’17-18 campaign will go a long way in determining his value… and, potentially, his future in Edmonton.