E-Mail Subscriptions to the Blog

Enter your email address:

Delivered by FeedBurner

Monday, November 03, 2008

PR key to turning Blackhawks around: PR Blog

Some nice coverage of the turnaround of the year in Chicago, how the Chicago Blackhawks have become the hot item in Chicago sports after more than a decade of hiding. It is a business operations oriented story and worth a look.

"When you are struggling for attention in a big market like Chicago, you have to give the media a reason to write about you..."

Sunday, November 02, 2008

A Chicago Tradition: National Anthem

Brad Boron has a nice piece on the tradition of clapping and cheering throughout the presentation of the National Anthem at Chicago Blackhawks games. It's a tradition that continues too at the Chicago Wolves.

"After dropping the first two games of the series on the road, Hawks fans entered Chicago Stadium on May 9 fully energized and ready to help their team get back into the series. The crowd was so excited they cheered all the way through the National Anthem..."

Wolves 2, Crunch 1

The Chicago Wolves defeated the Syracuse Crunch 2-1 in a game at the Allstate Arena early Sunday evening. Joey Crabb and Steve Martins each scored goals in the contest. Junior Lessard led an offensive output of four shots on goal. Robert Gherson, in net, stopped 19 shots on goal for the win.

Spencer Machacek, who is working with the Wolves on conditioning, had some ice time and was credited with a shot on goal.

The Wolves start a road trip this week. They do not return to the Allstate Arena till November 22.


This is one of the stats I’m just beating on. In eleven games the Chicago Wolves have scored just three times with a man advantage. They only score 5.1 percent of the time on the power play. This is just incredible. It is terrible.

I’m trying to put together how bad this is. The Wolves have as many shorthanded goals as they do power play goals. The total number of goals scored in shootouts this season by the Wolves and their opponents is equal to the total number of power play goals scored by the Wolves. The Wolves power play has scored at home only once this season.

There are 15 players in the American Hockey League with as many power play goals as the entire team has. There are ten in the AHL with more power play goals than the Wolves. There is one AHL player who has to get only one short-handed goal to tie the total number of power play goals scored by the Wolves.

The Wolves defense is doing pretty well. It’s not great, but it’s good. For example the AHL penalty kill is averaging 84.2 percent currently. The Wolves have a PK of 87.9 percent. In real terms, they’ve given up six power play goals. Or, they only have half as many power play goals for as against.

If this continues, we’ll be comparing the chances of the Wolves scoring a power play goal to the chances of catching a tee shirt in the upper deck. It’s awful. Just terrible.

Wolves split two with Iowa; Power play still anemic

The Chicago Wolves split a series in Iowa, dropping a game on Friday night 2-1 to the Iowa Chops, and winning a Saturday night game 3-1 at the Wells Fargo Arena in Des Moines.

The Friday game was decided by an Iowa power play goal in the third period. The two teams struggled in a stalemate throughout the game. Iowa Chop winger Drew Miller scored the first goal in the first period, but it was answered by Colin Stuart when he received a turnover and scored without an assist.

A lack of discipline on the Chicago side allowed the Chops to enjoy a greater advantage in power plays. That finally paid out in the third period when Bobby Ryan scored in the only third period advantage for either team.

Ondrej Pavelec received the loss, stopping 26 shots on goal. Jean-Phillippe Levasseur received the win with 25 saves. Jordan LaVallee and Stuart had four shots on goal each. The Chicago power play continues to be anemic, it failed on three chances to score in the game.

In the second game of the series, Dan Turple took the goal for the Wolves as Pavelec was called to Atlanta. Although Turple has been around the organization for several years, Chicago fans haven’t seen much of him. Most of his time was spent in the AA level Atlanta farm team, the Gwinnett Gladiators.

Because Pavelec needs rest, we are likely to see Turple play several times this season. Robert Gherson, who backed Pavelec to the Calder Cup last season, will be backing Turple.

Turple stopped 20 shots for the win in his first start of the season. There were six Iowa Power plays; he stopped each of them. Stuart came out with five shots on goal, but it was Riley Hozapfel who was the star for the Wolves. Hozapfel had four shots on goal, a goal and an assist for the evening. Grant Stevenson also scored two points, a goal and an assist. He had three shots on goal for the night. An empty net goal by Joe Motzko secured the win.

There is clearly a problem with the power play at this point. It is just not working. There have been only three power play goals by the Wolves since the season started. While the Wolves Penalty Kill is respectable, I cannot see this team moving far into the playoffs if it doesn’t get traction with the power play.

IceHogs drop two over weekend

The Rockford IceHogs dropped two home games over the weekend. The Chicago Blackhawk AAA affiliate is now tied with the Chicago Wolves for first place in the Western Division.

On Friday night, the IceHogs lost 2-1 against the Manitoba Moose. Power play goals by both teams kept the score even till Guillame Desbiens scored the winning goal in the second period. Pascal Pelletier scored a power play goal. He led the offence with five shots on goal. Corey Crawford received the loss, stopping 25 shots on goal. Cory Schneider received the win for the Moose, stopping 19 shots on goal.

Saturday’s loss 3-2 loss to the Syracuse Crunch featured Antti Niemi in net for the IceHogs. He stopped 24 shots on goal. Crunch goalie Steve Mason stopped 22 shots on goal. Mike Blunden and Pelletier each had an offensive of three shots on goal, but both players were pointless in the contest.

The IceHogs continue to be a physical team. They gave up 16 advantages to opposing teams this weekend. Looking at the stats for the league, there isn’t an IceHog listed in the top 20 players for penalty minutes. But watching these guys play, they are physical, finishing their checks and refusing to back down. The spirit of the old IceHogs from the United Hockey League just seems to have somehow lived on, but with greater skill.

As that skill level moves up to the Blackhawk, we should see a team that is more physically aggressive on the ice. That should be fun.

While the American Hockey League serves as a breeding ground for blue liners, fans also want to see some offence. What strikes me, looking at the weekend, is how the offence is spread around. In other words, the talent on the bench is balanced. Stars make it through this level to play at the next level. I want to see more from players like Jack Skille. They need to step it up.

Pavelec to Atlanta; Lehtonen is "ill"

Ondrej Pavelec has been called up to the Atlanta Thrashers. The Chicago Wolves, in turn, are depending on Dan Turple. Kari Lehtonen, who has had a rough season so far, is being benched due to being ill, according to several blogs, including the Atlanta Journal Constitution and the Blueland Blog.

The call for trading Lehtonen from Atlanta fans also means there is a possibility of losing Pavelec to Atlanta. What does Atlanta get, if Pavelec skates out there? This blog followed Pavelec through his season, which ended with a Calder Cup win in June. The Chicago defense last season was pretty good, with Boris Valabik, Nathan Oystrick and others, who are likely to see the NHL soon, in front of the net.

Nevertheless, at that level—post season and league championship, a team faces significant challenges. He made some spectacular saves at the right time. He was cool under fire. Losing a game didn’t phase him, coming back in the next game. He is not a guy who can be used every day for 82 games and is ready for post-season play. He definitely needs breaks to be at his best.

What I’m describing is a young goalie that is very focussed. Why is he playing in Chicago and not the NHL? Because Lehtonen is still a better goalie. Or he was last season.

So what changed? Well, here is a non-hockey story. You connect the dots.

Years ago, when Lehtonen was in Chicago, he purchased a new car. I don’t remember what the make or the model of the vehicle was. But it was a luxury car and it was new.

Lehtonen was young and flush with cash. After a month he traded the vehicle in for another new car. Again another luxury model. He accepted a trade-in value for the month old car that was about 1/3 of its new value. He was taken.

John Anderson, who was still the coach of the Chicago Wolves, and is now the coach of the Atlanta Thrashers, took Lehtonen to task. He even used this incident in talking to reporters and fans about how immature players in the AHL are.

I suspect that Anderson regrets shooting off his mouth now. I suspect Lehtonen will play much better somewhere else. Yes, the Wolves have lost a great goalie. But so has Atlanta.