5 Questions with...CSN's Chris Boden


5 Questions with...CSN's Chris Boden

By Jeff Nuich
CSN Chicago Senior Director of CommunicationsCSNChicago.com Contributor

March 10, 2010

Want to know more about your favorite Chicago media celebrities? CSNChicago.com has your fix as we put the most popular personalities on the spot with everyones favorite weekly local celeb 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 weeka veteran Chicago sports broadcaster and one of the biggest Blackhawks fans in townhes the host of Comcast SportsNets Chevy Blackhawks Pre-Game Live and Smirnoff Vodka Blackhawks Post Game Live who hopes to be covering a Stanley Cup championship ticker-tape parade in Chicago this Junehere are 5 Questions withCHRIS BODEN!

BIO: Chris Boden joined Comcast SportsNets SportsNite on-air team in 2007 and hosts the network's Blackhawks studio coverage on Chevy Blackhawks Pre-Game Live, as well as Smirnoff Vodka Blackhawks Post Game Live following all CSN Blackhawks telecasts this season. Covering the Chicago sports scene for over 20 years, Boden joined Comcast SportsNet from WMVP-AM (ESPN Radio) where he served as an anchor, reporter and fill-in host since 2003. Boden has also held local sports casting positions with WFLD-TV (Fox) and CLTV in Chicago, IL, along with national work on the NFL Network. Previously, Boden was a sports reporteranchor for WBBM-TV (CBS) in Chicago, IL (1998-2003). Prior to joining WBBM-TV, Boden was at WBBM-AM (1990-1998), first as a sports anchorreporter and then as sports director. Before working at WBBM-AM, he was a sportscaster for Tribune Radio Networks (now Illinois News Networks) from 1987-1990. Boden, who grew up in the Chicago southwestern suburb of Burbank, IL, and attended Luther South H.S., where he played football, ran cross country and track, and was a member of the 1980 Class A state basketball championship team. He graduated with a degree in Broadcast Journalism from Columbia College in Chicago, IL in 1985, where he ran the sports department at the student radio station, while working at Sports Phone.

1) CSNChicago.com: Chris, the Blackhawks are poised to make a deep run in this years Stanley Cup Playoffs. For as much talent they have on the ice, one aspect of their success seems to be forgotten at times with the fans: Coaching. Joel Quenneville and his staff have disciplined this team into believing there is not a team out there that can challenge them. How much will that mindset benefit the Blackhawks come playoff time?

Boden: The talent and potential on this team combined with the experience of Joel and his staff of Mike Haviland, John Torchetti, and Stephane Waite seems to be a perfect fit. It's easy to see the strides and growth they've made over the past two seasons, and a lot of it has to do with the fact this guy's one of the NHL's all-time winningest coaches.

He's gotten exactly what's been expected of this team, maybe more. You can't argue a whole lot with how the team has responded to whatever messages he sends and buttons he pushes. On the outside, with the media, he's a calm, steadying influence. Overall, he's the same way within the locker room, while his record and over 500 victories speaks for itself in earning the players' respect. That said, he knows the real test lies ahead in how this team responds to a post-season where they won't necessarily sneak up on anybody. And like all but three players on his roster, he has something he wants to prove in becoming a Stanley Cup-winning head coach.

2) CSNChicago.com: Fan favorite Adam Burish is due back with the team in the very near future after being out the entire regular season with a torn ACL suffered back in preseason. What will his return to the line-up mean for this team for the remainder of the regular season and during the playoffs?

Boden: Great sound bites!! Seriously, the Chatty Badger - besides quality opinion and commentary for those of us in the media - supplies a dose of energy on the ice that matches his engaging personality off of it. When he went down with that injury in the preseason, everyone figured the team had enough depth to get by during the regular season, which isn't to say what he brings to the table wasn't missed. But if there's ever a time to add that, it's now, when the team has to dig deep in that energy reservoir despite the Olympic break. When emotions run high in the playoffs and the Hawks need a guy to get under an opponent's skin, the appropriately-nicknamed "Bur" will be there. But he'll also be there to handle himself in the face-off circle when necessary, and let's not forget he scored three goals in the playoffs last spring and every goal during that time of year is big. On top of that, just about every locker room can use a guy with his sense of humor, and perspective, when the pressure's on.

3) CSNChicago.com: The Winter Olympic tournament created a huge buzz throughout the country, culminating in Canada's gold medal-winning, overtime victory over the United States. Will all the positives of that experience outweigh the one potential negative for the six Blackhawks involved?

Boden: There's no question that the four who wound up in that thrilling finale have played an unprecedented, frantic, condensed schedule. The good thing is none of them were injured, so the main concern is a physical wall one almost has to expect them to encounter. Their younger legs will hopefully help them bounce back, plus the other top teams in the West also had a number of players involved, who aren't as collectively young, and whose teams aren't as deep as the Hawks. So if Joel Quenneville feels a need to reduce their minutes leading up the playoffs, you'd think it would affect them less than a San Jose or Vancouver. Of course, the counterpoint to that argument was Detroit having a similar-size contingent in 2006, only to come back to the NHL, win the regular season conference crown, and get upset in the first round of the playoffs. The coaching staff will manage a way not to wear down the batteries of those players. All of us knew those guys well already. Now, the entire country - and a few others around the world - are aware of Toews, Keith, Seabrook and Kane.

4) CSNChicago.com: For many older Chicagoans, SportsPhone was THE source at the time for any breaking sports stories. Two-part question: remind us of some of your fellow colleagues who worked with you at Sports Phone back in the day and do you still remember that phone number?

Boden: 976-1313! Now how could I forget that after having to repeat it so many times! I knew it better than my own number, and some other numbers that were a lot more important. What a different time it was then, when you consider everything fans have available at their fingertips now. But it was obviously a service that the public wanted and needed. And if we weren't fortunate enough to be employed by a radio station back then, that was the next best thing.

SportsPhone was a stepping stone for a lot of us. Les Grobstein and Pat Benkowski were among the first group, along with Fred Huebner and David Schuster, who were still there when I came in kind of a "second wave." Brian Wheeler has gone on to become the radio play-by-play voice of the Portland Trail Blazers. Jeff Joniak came in after me, and look at him now, as the voice of the Bears. Tom Kelley and Joe Mazzone primarily handled the horse racing hotlines, and they've gone on to prominent roles at Balmoral and Maywood Parks, respectively. Ed Vucinic is now the head soccer coach at St. Xavier but has kept his foot (pun intended) in soccer broadcasting. There are countless others that people may not be familiar with that I still consider friends to this day. We were all striving for that "next big gig," but kept each other sane, and laughing, along the way. Especially during those 6-to-8-hour shifts of "10-minute scoreboard updates" of sixty seconds each.

5) CSNChicago.com: If you and your fellow SportsNite team members Pat Boyle, Mark Schanowski and Luke Stuckmeyer went out to dinner, who would be least likely to reach into his wallet first to pay the bill (we promise we wont tell)?

Boden: Meas it should be. They make SOOOO much more money than I do!

BONUS QUESTIONCSNChicago.com: Anything you want to promote Chris? The floor is yours!

Boden: Comcast SportsNet has allowed me to be lucky enough to emcee the annual Special Olympics Illinois Awards dinner each of the past two years. Nothing is quite as humbling as seeing how hard the people involved work to organize events, and bring smiles to the faces of athletes who face much greater challenges than the ones we at CSN cover on a daily basis. It's the devoted volunteers and parents and family members who deserve that night to be recognized, and that's just scratching the surface of what goes on throughout the state and the country. As is the case with anyone giving time to those who are challenged or less fortunate, it's a wakeup call to me and everyone else who are blessed, should there ever a time we are feeling sorry for ourselves.

As for what we might be working on, I'll just say...I hope we get the opportunity to follow The Cup around this summer when Blackhawks players have their day with it!

Boden LINKS:

Chris BodenHawk Talk blog on CSNChicago.com

Together again: Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane reunite on top line vs. Devils

Together again: Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane reunite on top line vs. Devils

When coach Joel Quenneville has put Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane together it’s usually been during the postseason.

It’s rare when it happens in the regular season and when it does, it seems like an in-case-of-emergency move. But in this case, it may be more of a get-the-captain’s-production-going move.

The Blackhawks made a few more line changes on Thursday, including combining Toews and Kane, as they prepared for Friday night’s game at the New Jersey Devils. Marian Hossa moved to right wing on the second line with Artemi Panarin and Artem Anisimov. Marcus Kruger and Nick Schmaltz flip-flopped as third- and fourth-line centers. Tyler Motte and Ryan Hartman were the third-line wings while Dennis Rasmussen and Jordin Tootoo were on the fourth line.

Coach Joel Quenneville said the line changes, including Kane’s move to the first line, were because the Blackhawks continue to look for balance. To a point, that’s true; the Blackhawks still haven’t come close to getting that four-line rotation with which they’ve found so much success. But considering how successful the Toews and Kane combination has been for each, you’d have to think it’s to help bolster Toews’ point totals. Toews has just two assists through the first seven games.

“Right now I think Jonny, his production isn’t where you look at his play – we still always like the way he plays, he’s so useful in so any different ways,” Quenneville said. “I think maybe we get more balance on both lines. We’ve been trying a number of different looks in our top two groups there. over seven games we still need to be better in a lot of ways. hopefully we can find it.”

Still, if you can get your top players producing points, it’s worth a try. And Kane and Toews, regardless of how long they’ve been apart, usually click immediately upon reuniting.

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“Yeah, I guess change can be good in this sense. We can probably produce a little bit more offense and have the puck a little bit more throughout the game,” Kane said. “I’ve played with Jonny a bunch before. Obviously, not as much lately. But I’m looking forward to it. It’ll be a fun way to play hockey. Obviously he’s one of the best players in the game, and probably in my mind, the easiest player to play with. It’ll be fun to get back out there with him and try to create something, try to produce and have some fun with it.”

As for that usual second line of Panarin, Anisimov and Kane, remember: as we’ve seen before, it can be put together again fast.

“They get a lot of shifts and a lot of looks. It’s not like we’re too far away from going back to it at any time. It’s always close and available,” Quenneville said. “Maybe we get more balance and a little more scoring across the board.”


- Defenseman Gustav Forsling (upper body) did not skate on Thursday and will not travel to New Jersey. Quenneville is still hoping Forsling can play on Sunday vs. the Los Angeles Kings.

- Forward Andrew Desjardins (lower body) continues to improve. Quenneville said Desjardins could be skating in the next day or so.

- Corey Crawford will start vs. the Devils.

Illini announce athletics hall of fame with Dick Butkus as first member


Illini announce athletics hall of fame with Dick Butkus as first member

Illinois announced Thursday the establishment of a university athletics hall of fame, and who better than Dick Butkus to be the first inductee?

According to the announcement, Illinois has discussed creating an athletics hall of fame to honor past student-athletes for years, but this is the first time it's been acted upon — not necessarily a surprise now that Josh Whitman, a former Illinois football player, is now in charge of the department.

"The University of Illinois has an incredible and storied history in athletics," Whitman said in the announcement. "Legendary names in sports history are found throughout the Illini record books, and we are excited to honor them in our new Hall of Fame. Since the athletic program's inception in 1890, some of the world's greatest athletes have competed in the orange and blue. Ultimately, as we begin to populate the Hall of Fame, our collection of recognized greats will compare favorably with that of any institution in the nation."

Butkus, of course, is the obvious choice to be the first announced member of the hall of fame's inaugural class.

Regarded by many as the best linebacker and defensive football player ever, Butkus spent three seasons in Champaign, twice a unanimous All-American selection. Playing both center and linebacker at Illinois, he finished in the top six in Heisman Trophy voting in 1963 and 1964, a shocking accomplishment for someone playing a position other than quarterback, running back or receiver.

Butkus made 374 tackles in three seasons and is one of just two players — the other being Red Grange — to have his number retired at Illinois. He is a member of the College Football Hall of Fame and the Pro Football Hall of Fame (thanks to his remarkable career with the Bears), and the annual award for the best linebacker in college football is named after Butkus.

"The University of Illinois has played an extremely important role in my life," Butkus said in the announcement. "I have many life-long relationships that began at the U of I and have always been proud to call myself a Fighting Illini. To be recognized in the inaugural class of the Athletics Hall of Fame is a terrific feeling. I'm very proud of what my teams and I accomplished, including the 1963 Big Ten Championship and Rose Bowl victory. Thank you for this honor."

The Illini will announce the entire inaugural class in February, with induction coming next September.