5 Questions with...Chicago Tribune's Chris Kuc

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5 Questions with...Chicago Tribune's Chris Kuc

By Jeff Nuich
CSN Chicago Senior Director of Communications
CSNChicago.com Contributor

October 14, 2009

Want to know more about your favorite Chicago media celebrities? CSNChicago.com has your fix as we put the citys most popular personalities on the spot with a new weekly feature entitled 5 Questions with...

Every Wednesday exclusively on CSNChicago.com, its our turn to grill the local media and other local VIPs with five random sports and non-sports related questions that will definitely be of interest to old and new fans alike.

This weekwell-respected Chicago Blackhawks beat writer for the Chicago Tribunea man who recently became a first-time dad who is currently contemplating when to put his newborn son on skateshere are 5 Questions withCHRIS KUC!"

BIO: Chris Kuc clearly remembers his first Blackhawks game. He grew up in the western suburbs and his father, recently retired veteran Chicago sports broadcaster Jerry Kuc, took him to Chicago Stadium on Feb. 20, 1980 when Tony Esposito and the Hawks downed the Toronto Maple Leafs 4-2.

His most vivid memories of the night are Esposito taking a slap shot to the head and collapsing, sending the crowd of 9,322 into a stunned silence. After a few minutes, the Hall of Fame goaltender stood up, received a standing ovation and finished the game.

It was also the night the United States Olympic hockey team defeated West Germany 4-2 en route to a meeting with the Soviet Union and an eventual gold medal. When the score was announced, the crowd broke into a chant of "USA! USA! From that moment, Kuc was hooked on hockey.

He started working at the Tribune while still in high school at Hinsdale South and has been a copy editor, page designer, high school sports editor and now a beat reporter for an Original Six team. He recently made the move from downtown Chicago to the burbs with his wife and newborn son.

1) CSNChicago.com: Chris, the resurgence of the Blackhawks in terms of marketing and team performance over the past two seasons has been nothing short of amazing. Last years team exceeded many critics expectations when they reached the Western Conference Finals. Now, this year, numerous media outlets are picking them to reach or even win the Stanley Cup Finals. Youre around this roster day in and day out, do you think that kind of pressure is too much, too soon for this young team?

Kuc: Nope. Remember, this is a team with Jonathan "Mr. Serious" Toews as its captain. Which I guess makes him "Captain Serious. At 21, Toews has the poise and determination far beyond his years and it rubs off on his teammates. When I was his age, I considered it an accomplishment if I could find my car keys each morning.

The Hawks may be young but they know how to win and have come to expect it game in and game out. There's a good mix of youthful enthusiasm, veteran know-how and the belief great things are just around the corner. I believe it too.

2) CSNChicago.com: The new Blackhawks leadership with Rocky Wirtz, John McDonough and Jay Blunk at the helm has certainly brought this team back to the spotlight by marketing its stars better than anyone in the league. As far as the NHL is concerned, outside of Sidney Crosby and Alex Ovechkin, the average sports fan isnt really familiar with other players around the league. In your opinion, is the NHL doing enough in terms of marketing its players and the game itself on a national level?

Kuc: It tries, but until the NHL can be seen on a major television network with regularity, it's fighting an uphill battle. Every season there seem to be more and more charismatic young stars, such as the Hawks' Patrick Kane, and the league needs to do a better job of putting their faces into the mainstream. Too many NHL franchises are plodding along in obscurity and the league has to figure out a way to get teams like Nashville, Columbus, Phoenix, Tampa, etc. noticed. I wouldn't be surprised if some of those franchises look at the model the Hawks' hierarchy has developed and follow suit.

3) CSNChicago.com: Youve covered the Blackhawks for a while now and have traveled to all the major cities in North America. Name the city you most look forward to visiting each year and what city visit makes you want to turn the plane around and head back to Chicago?

Kuc: I look forward to visiting Vancouver more than any other NHL city. It's among the most beautiful cities in the world and has a terrific party scene (from what they tell me). I told David Kaplan on "Chicago Tribune Live" recently that it was the most beautiful city in North America and I got smoked for listing it over Chicago. I love my hometown, but Vancouver is just amazing. If you ever go there, make sure you enjoy the view out the plane window on the way in. It's breathtaking.

If I could play a mulligan each season and skip a city, it would be Columbus. Boring and dull. Did I mention it's boring? Oh, and Detroit. I'm getting sick of Detroit.

4) CSNChicago.com: The legendary hockey film Slap Shot still has a huge following some 33 years later after its release in 1976. Explain the phenomenon of why this particular movie has become a sports film classic?

Kuc: Beyond the fact Paul Newman was terrific as Reggie Dunlop, I believe the Hanson brothers putting on the foil and trying to listen to the anthem is what makes the movie a classic. Great stuff.

5) CSNChicago.com: Congrats on being a new dad Chris. Hows the adjustment to fatherhood been for you so far and, speaking of dads, hows your dad, veteran and recently retired sports broadcast journalist Jerry The Cooker Kuc, doing these days?

Kuc: So far, so good with my son Adam. He came into the world at 8 pounds, 15 ounces so he seems destined to be a defenseman. I keep putting things in his left hand with the hopes he'll become the left-hander the White Sox need in a couple of decades.

My dad is doing well and living the retired life in Southern California. I bet there are still reporters in press boxes across the nation who miss smelling the smoke from his pipe.

BONUS QUESTIONCSNChicago.com: Outside of your regular visits to Comcast SportsNet for Chicago Tribune Live, anything else you want to plug? Whats the latest

Kuc: I'm big on the radio in Western Canada. Those guys talk so much hockey they turn to me every other day to fill dead air, it seems. I recently interviewed some Hawks for a piece about pond hockey that will run in a Tribune special section about things to do in winter so keep an eye out for that. Between blogging, Facebooking, tweeting and finding the occasional moment to write for the paper, I really don't have much else going on.

Kuc LINKS:

Chicago TribuneChris Kucs Icing blog

Chris Kuc on Facebook

Chris Kuc on Twitter

SportsTalk Live Podcast: Toews still out, Bulls pull out win over Spurs

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SportsTalk Live Podcast: Toews still out, Bulls pull out win over Spurs

In the latest SportsTalk Live Podcast, Mark Grote (670 The Score) and Mark Carman (WGN Radio) join Kap on the panel. Jonathan Toews is still not back at practice. Is it time to panic?

Meanwhile, the Bulls beat the Spurs. And Rajon Rondo compliments the coaches? Is all well in Bulls-town?

Plus, Dexter Fowler is Cardinal. Should Cubs fans be angry?

And finally, is it good idea for Jordan Howard to get the ball less for the rest of the season?

Check out the SportsTalk Live Podcast below: 

Lucas Giolito striving to contribute to White Sox 'as soon as possible'

Lucas Giolito striving to contribute to White Sox 'as soon as possible'

At one point, it was looking like Lucas Giolito could be headed to the White Sox in exchange for Chris Sale.

But when Sale was dealt to the Boston Red Sox, Giolito's name was in the clear of rumors — until 29 hours later, when the Nationals' top prospect would be headed to Chicago in a different trade, which sent outfielder Adam Eaton to Washington.

“It’s kind of like the world we live in now. Social media is always out there and everything is on Twitter,” Giolito said in a conference call Friday. “I saw my name being mentioned on Twitter for Chris Sale. I know with the winter meetings all sorts of stuff being thrown around. I was just trying to focus on what I’m doing in this offseason which is lifting and all my workouts. Kind of just whatever happens, happens. 

“It’s funny that Sale ended up going to the Red Sox and something else happens that I’m going to the White Sox now with a couple teammates. It’s really interesting stuff but I’m super excited.”

The move for Rick Hahn & Co. to acquire Giolito was the second major trade to begin the White Sox rebuilding process. But Giolito didn't come alone.

In addition, the White Sox received Reynaldo Lopez — who Giolito has played with since 2014 — and the Nationals' 2016 first-round pick Dane Dunning.

"I definitely think it’s amazing to be coming over to the White Sox with a bunch of young talent," Giolito said. "I think it’s a great opportunity for us to all develop and get better and hopefully put a really good team together in Chicago. Definitely excited to be coming over with a couple guys from my previous organization."

[MORE: Rick Hahn, White Sox prepared to make more 'painful decisions' if the price is right]

Giolito went 6-5 with a 2.97 ERA and 1.28 WHIP across three minor-league levels this past season. He admitted his mechanics weren't quite in sync and is looking to improve on that.

"Sometimes things get out of whack. I believe I let too much get out of whack last year," Giolito said. "So this year with my training program I have in this offseason — lifting and Pilates and everything — I’m just trying to make sure that I can stay as athletic as possible so I’m able to repeat the right delivery more often. Once I start playing catch and doing bullpens and everything these next few weeks, right before spring training, I’m going to make sure I put that all together so I can repeat my delivery as best as possible."

His struggles continued when he got to The Show.

In his major-league debut on June 28, Giolito held the New York Mets to just one hit over four scoreless innings before a rain delay cut his night short. That turned out to be his most effective outing of the season as he finished the year with an 0-1 record, 6.75 ERA and 1.78 WHIP in six games with the Nationals, four of them being starts.

"(My MLB debut) didn’t go as well as I would’ve liked it to go, obviously, as you look at the numbers and everything," he said, "but I feel that with the White Sox now (and) getting traded and everything, it’s kind of like a fresh opportunity and a new start to get up to the big leagues again and contribute and do everything I can to stay there as well."

[SHOP: Gear up, White Sox fans!]

Despite his low numbers, the 22-year-old Giolito believes he's ready to play on the White Sox main roster as soon as next season.

"I’ve had some experience in the big leagues last year," Giolito said. "Especially last year, I took a lot positives away because I did experience such a good amount of failure in a lot of I’d say like hardship when I made it up and didn’t perform up to what I believe is my best capabilities.

"I’ve pitched a good amount of innings in the minor leagues and I’ve had a little experience in the big leagues so I’m just really looking forward to making it up in the big leagues with the White Sox and contributing as soon as possible."