Congress passes resolution to honor Chicago Blackhawks

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The sport of hockey has seen a massive jump in popularity over the
past season, as evidenced by the support shown the United States in the
World Juniors and the Olympics and by the historic jump in ratings in
the postseason.

The rise in national attention and popularity is
also due to having the Chicago Blackhawks — an Original Six team with a
massive fan base — as one of the best teams in the NHL all season long
and eventually winning the Stanley Cup.

Today, the U.S. House of
Representatives voted to formally acknowledge and honor the Hawks’
accomplishment this season. Backed by the Illinois representatives, a
measure was introduced today by democrat Mike Quigley of Chicago to
celebrate the Hawks’ victory.

From Katherine Skiba of the Chicago
Tribune:

Quigley pushed the measure in a speech Monday from the House floor,
saying the victory on June 9 “set off an extraordinary celebration in Chicago,
which for many of us is still going on.”

The vote was nearly unanimously passed, with the measure being passed
by a vote of 395-5. Thirty representatives decided not to vote, while
the most interesting vote came from one representative who merely said
“present”.

Here’s the full resolution, as passed by Congress:

“Congratulating the Chicago
Blackhawks on Winning the 2010 Stanley Cup Championship.”

“Whereas
the historic Chicago
Blackhawks, as one of the ‘Original Six,’ have made countless
contributions to sports;

“Whereas the Blackhawks and the National Hockey League have
demonstrated a commitment to promoting fitness and leadership skills for
youth through support for youth hockey programs and community skating
facilities;

“Whereas with 101 straight home game sellouts, and an NHL leading
regular-season average attendance of 21,356, the Blackhawks are the
pride of their hometown, Chicago,
Illinois;

“Whereas in just three years, the Blackhawks organization of Rocky
Wirtz, Joel Quenneville, John McDonough, Stan Bowman, Scotty Bowman, Jay
Blunk, and Dale Tallon have revitalized a franchise and reminded Chicago
that it has always been a hockey town;

“Whereas the Chicago
Blackhawks, through amazing offense, superb defense, and unmatched
depth, dominated the regular season and won 52 games;

“Whereas the Blackhawks defeated the Nashville Predators in 6 games,
the Vancouver Canucks in 6 games, and swept the Number 1 seeded San Jose
Sharks to become the Western Conference Champions and advance to the
Stanley Cup Final;

“Whereas in the Stanley Cup Final series, the Blackhawks held off the
aggressive play and talent of the Eastern Conference Champion
Philadelphia Flyers, who deserve great credit, to win in overtime, and
provide one of the most exciting final series in recent history; and

“Whereas the innumerable contributions from every player, coach, and
the entire Blackhawks family have ended the 49-year-long championship
drought and brought the roar back to Madison Street and Lord Stanley’s
Cup to where it belongs, sweet home Chicago:
Now, therefore, be it

“Resolved, That the House of Representatives–
(1) recognizes the Chicago
Blackhawks for their long distinguished history, countless
contributions to sports, and their many successes as a franchise;
(2)
congratulates the Blackhawks on an amazing season and for winning the
2010 Stanley Cup Championship;
(3) recognizes the players, coaches,
and leadership of the Blackhawks organization; and
(4) joins with all
people in the United States and hockey fans all over the world in
celebrating the return of the Stanley Cup to Chicago,
Illinois.”

NHL suspends Tom Wilson two preseason games for interference

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Capitals forward Tom Wilson has been suspended for two preseason games for interference, after his late hit on St. Louis Blues forward Robert Thomas during Friday’s exhibition game.

The incident occurred early in the third period, as Wilson caught Thomas with a heavy and late hit along the boards at the Blues bench.

“Over a full second after Thomas loses control of the puck, well past the point where Thomas is eligible to be checked, Wilson comes in from the side and delivers a forceful body check, knocking Thomas to the ice,” stated a member of the NHL Department of Player Safety in a video explanation of the suspension.

“In addition to the lateness of the hit, what elevates this hit to the level of supplemental discipline is the predatory nature and force of the hit. Wilson tracks Thomas for some time and alters his course to ensure he is able to finish his hit. Then, with the puck long gone from Thomas’ control, Wilson finishes the check with force.”

The Capitals continue their preseason schedule Saturday against the Carolina Hurricanes. They also play the New Jersey Devils on Wednesday.

Letang set to return to Penguins lineup vs. Blues on Sunday

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For the first time since February, Kris Letang is expected to be in the Pittsburgh Penguins lineup when they face the St. Louis Blues on Sunday.

Letang hasn’t played since Feb. 21. He underwent neck surgery in April and missed the entire Stanley Cup playoffs as a result. Despite the absence of their best defenseman, which is a huge loss in Letang, the Penguins were able to overcome that and emerge as champions over Nashville.

According to Pens Inside Scoop on Saturday, head coach Mike Sullivan said Letang will play in Sunday’s Kraft Hockeyville game between the Penguins and St. Louis Blues.

That wasn’t the only Letang news Saturday:

Getting Letang back into the lineup will provide a huge boost to an already strong Penguins team, with his ability to log heavy minutes and act as a catalyst in Pittsburgh’s offensive attack.

“I want to be the same player I was before. I don’t see any reason why I wouldn’t be able to do that,” said Letang. “Hopefully everything goes well and I go back to the old way, playing over 25 minutes and in all situations.”

But what is most critical is having Letang healthy, and Sullivan this offseason has stressed to the star defenseman to recognize situations when he should make a simple play rather than risk taking an unnecessary hit.

“When people try to dissect all of that, they make assumptions that they understand, but they don’t,” Letang told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

“Mike and I have a clear understanding of what he wants me to do. I think I’m tired of hearing people around it because I had a talk with Mike and Jim. It’s just a way of avoiding those unnecessary hits. It’s not going to be reducing ice time or anything like that. It’s taking a different approach on certain plays.”

Related: Letang isn’t interested in getting less ice time now that he’s healthy

Canucks’ Horvat out a week with upper-body injury

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The Canucks will resume their preseason schedule on Thursday, although it appears right now that Bo Horvat will likely not be in the lineup.

Just prior to puck drop against the L.A. Kings on Saturday, the Canucks announced that Horvat is expected to be out a week with an upper-body injury.

Per Dan Murphy of Sportsnet, the injury occurred on a hit from Drew Doughty during the first game of the two-game exhibition series between the Canucks and Kings in China.

The good news for the Canucks is that their regular season schedule begins on Oct. 7, which would give Horvat two weeks to get fully healthy and ready for the opener against Connor McDavid and the Oilers.

The 22-year-old Horvat enjoyed a 20-goal, 52-point season in 2016-17, emerging as the team’s leading scorer and one of the few bright spots during another disappointing season for the Canucks. As a result, he signed a six-year, $33 million contract extension earlier this month.

Related: Horvat believes he is ‘just scratching the surface’

Report: NHL has already made adjustment on slashing, faceoff calls

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The NHL preseason began with the league trying to crackdown on slashing and faceoff violations.

The early results were a lot of confusion, a ton of penalties, and a lot of griping from players, former referees and media about the confusion and the number of penalties.

Former NHL referee Paul Stewart griped on Twitter that it was taking away from the officials ability to call a game by feel and hockey sense. The Winnipeg Jets brought in retired referee Paul Devorski to work with their players in an effort to help them gain an understanding of what the league was looking for and to cut down on penalties.

It was obvious that something was going to have to give.

Either the players would have to adjust to the new standard implemented by the league, or the league would make its own adjustment and scale things back a bit.

In most matters like this in the NHL, it usually tends to be the latter.

That also seems to be the case here as Sportsnet’s John Shannon Tweeted on Saturday morning that the league has already sent a note to its officials to “dial it back” a bit when it comes slashing and faceoff violation calls.

Well, that was fast.

The enforcement of the faceoff rule seemed like a minor thing that really wasn’t going to make much of a difference, but the emphasis on slashing is one that needs to be kept (and extended to interference, holding, hooking or any other sort of obstruction), especially given the way some of the league’s star players are defended where slashing down on their hands or stick seems to be the preferred way of playing them. Not only from a player safety standpoint to help reduce injuries (getting hit with a stick can break bones … or fingers) but because the drop in power plays over the past decade (the “let them play” mindset) has been one of the many factors in the continued decline in goal scoring across the league.

If the NHL is serious about changing this stuff the onus needs to be on the players to adjust, not the officials. Set the standard. Call it consistently. The players will figure out what they can and can not do.

Anything less than that basically just amounts to the league saying, “hey guys, we would really like you to cut down on the slashes” and hoping that the players listen. But as long as they can get away with it, they will not listen.