2012 inductees to U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame

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2012 inductees to U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame

From Comcast SportsNet
NEWARK, N.J. (AP) -- Eddie Olczyk remembers the series as if it was yesterday. It was the spring of 1994, and his New York Rangers outlasted the New Jersey Devils in a thrilling, seven-game series to secure the Eastern Conference title. The Rangers went on to win the Stanley Cup. The Devils went home. But Olczyk figured the latter would be back soon. "You just knew it," Olczyk said. "With Lou Lamoriello in charge, and because of his leadership, you knew they were on the verge of something special. There was no question about it." He was right. And on Wednesday, the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame honored both for their accomplishments. Lamoriello, New Jersey's longtime general manager, who has led the Devils to three Stanley Cup titles and five Eastern Conference crowns, was named to this year's induction class. Joining Lamoriello as part of the class that will be enshrined in the fall, is Olczyk, now an analyst for NBC Sports, as well as Mike Modano, who won a Stanley Cup with the Dallas Stars. "Without a doubt, it's a great honor," Olczyk said. "To be in the same class as professionals like Mike and Lou certainly makes it a great day." Since Lamoriello took over in 1987, the Devils have secured nine division titles and won the Cup in 1995, 2000, and 2003. New Jersey, as a No. 6 seed this season, defeated the Panthers, Flyers and Rangers to advance to their fifth Cup final last month. "The common denominators there are the defense, (goaltender) Marty Brodeur, and Mr. Lamoriello," Olczyk said. "He has proven over the years, through a lot of change, that he can keep the Devils in contention every year." Modano, who lost the Cup finals to New Jersey in 2000 as a member of the Stars, played in 21 NHL seasons. He finished with 561 goals and 1,374 points, and holds the record for most postseason points (145) by an American. His Stars defeated Buffalo in the 1999 Cup finals. Olczyk was the third overall pick of the 1984 draft by Chicago, and played for 16 years with the Blackhawks, Maple Leafs, Jets, Rangers, Kings and Penguins. "This is definitely one of the highlights of my career," Olczyk said. "Fortunately, for me, I've been very lucky to wear a bunch of different hats in this game, and I still feel like I have a lot more to give." Olczyk finished with 342 goals and 794 points in 1,031 games. His Rangers defeated Vancouver in 1994 to win the Cup. In 1985-86, with Chicago, he had 29 goals and 79 points as a 19-year-old. "Eddie's positive impact is felt through the entire organization, starting from the youth hockey level all the way to our players, coaches and front office staff," Blackhawks president John McDonough said. "He is a great ambassador for the game of hockey and the city of Chicago."

How White Sox tradition of Cuban players helped them land Luis Robert

How White Sox tradition of Cuban players helped them land Luis Robert

Before Luis Robert donned a White Sox jersey, before he signed his name on his new contract, before he even entered the room where he was to be introduced as one of the brightest stars in the White Sox rebuild, there were those who came before him.

Quite literally, Robert, the 19-year-old Cuban outfielder, was surrounded by his fellow countrymen who have worn the White Sox uniform prior. There was, of course, the legendary Minnie Minoso, former White Sox shortstop Alexei Ramirez, current All-Star first baseman Jose Abreu and current top prospect Yoan Moncada, banners of all four players to the sides of the table where Robert sat with general manager Rick Hahn.

Saturday was the latest step in the White Sox rebuild, the team adding Robert to their list of big-time prospects that has fans drooling over lineups and pitching staffs a few years down the road.

But Saturday was also the latest step in a franchise tradition of bringing in Cuban players, a tradition that seemed to have helped the White Sox land Robert.

"The White Sox tradition for Cuban players was something that motivated me to sign with this team," Robert said through a translator during Saturday's introductory press conference. "It's something that made me feel comfortable.

"I feel proud because those players were examples for us in Cuba. For me now to be here wearing the same uniform as them is a huge honor for me."

Comfort seemed to be the biggest factor in Robert's decision to sign with the White Sox over other bidders. Hahn explained Saturday that the team had been scouting Robert since he was just 14 years old, and when asked what the most decisive factor was in this process, Robert said the White Sox showed the most interest.

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But there was something to continuing the team's Cuban tradition. Hahn said that Robert's talent certainly meant more than simply his nation of origin, but he said that the franchise's tradition helped with its pitch to Robert, a pitch that included a video with personalized messages from Abreu and Moncada.

"It was certainly part of our identity that we presented to him to help inform him about where we were and the level of success that we’ve had with similar type players," Hahn said. "We certainly felt that having a comfortable and welcoming environment for similar type players was going to help him reach as close as he can to his ceiling. Not saying he couldn’t reach it elsewhere with different environments, but we certainly felt we had a good nurturing developmental environment for a player with his background."

Part of that environment is Abreu, who was guiding Robert around Guaranteed Rate Field before Saturday's introduction, talking with him in the dugout and on the field.

Hahn said that Abreu relishes a mentoring role and that players like Abreu and Moncada have taken the initiative to welcome Robert into the organization.

"A lot of it comes from the players themselves. We don't need to hand them a phone and make them Facetime with each other. They've already been a little proactive on their own, and I suspect that will continue over the coming years," Hahn said. "Jose, as I'm sure he'll tell you directly, takes a great deal of pride in playing that mentor type role in the organization. He's certainly done it with Yoan ever since we acquired him and has already begun doing it moving forward with Luis. And I suspect Moncada will follow suit as well.

"So it perpetuates itself, it's something we can facilitate with our coaches, any of our culturalization people as the process unfolds. Obviously we have a strong history in this regard and have had some success doing it."

Whether Robert will have a career more similar to Minoso, Ramirez, Abreu, Moncada or even the heretofore unmentioned Dayan Viciedo remains to be seen. But one advantage he does have in his development is an organization with a tradition and environment to help him succeed.

No wonder he felt comfortable.

Nerve issue sends Tyler Saladino to DL, White Sox bring up outfielder Adam Engel

Nerve issue sends Tyler Saladino to DL, White Sox bring up outfielder Adam Engel

The White Sox will be without infielder Tyler Saladino for at least 10 days.

Saladino was placed on the 10-day disabled list ahead of Saturday's doubleheader with what the team called back spasms, though Saladino explained it's a nerve issue that will keep him on the shelf.

Saladino left Friday night's game, and he said he was experiencing soreness Saturday.

"It’s like a sciatic nerve related stuff. Kind of ruled the back out of it," Saladino said. "Going to try to find a way to get it to calm down."

Saladino said he's been dealing with minor issues over the past week but that it really flared up when he stepped on first base Friday night.

He explained that this is the first time he's ever dealt with a nerve issue like this and that he doesn't have much of an idea what to expect.

“Brand new. Nerve thing, never had anything like it before. It’s all brand new," Saladino said. "Just going to kind of take it, start with some treatment, see how it goes. Have no idea what’s going on.

“This right here kind of made me play a little bit cautious. You don’t really think about it when you’re out there playing. You’ve got enough adrenaline to take over. But feeling a little bit of a nerve thing kind of sat me back. It’s just in the back of your head. You don’t really know what’s going on. You feel a little bit of stuff that’s going on that’s brand new, doesn’t feel right."

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In a corresponding roster move, the White Sox brought outfielder Adam Engel up from Triple-A Charlotte.

Engel had a slow start to the season in his first handful of games, but he's been swinging a pretty hot bat of late. In his last 30 games, he's hitting .286 with a .370 on-base percentage and eight home runs.

"Just made an adjustment with my hands, just kind of picked them up a little bit," Engel said about what changed. "I have been kind of getting them behind me, kind of putting me in a tough position to hit. I just picked them up and I feel like I’m in a better position."

White Sox manager Rick Renteria had plenty of praise for the newest addition to his roster.

“Tremendously gifted outfielder, runs real well. Was starting to put together a pretty good run at the Triple-A level. Hit his seventh or eight home run last night," Renteria said before Saturday's first game. "Has been playing very well, continues to develop. You’ll probably see him here soon in the outfield, get a game. Talking to (bench coach Joe McEwing) and the staff, we’ve talked about trying to get guys in as quickly as possible so they get their feet underneath them. He’s been doing very, very well. He’s a very gifted outfielder with potentially the ability to hold his own at the plate.”