AHL opener sparks emotion over NHL lockout

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AHL opener sparks emotion over NHL lockout

Since CBA negotiations began, Gary Bettman hasn't been too concerned about the chance NHL fans may not return to the sport once the lockout ends. In fact, he seemed rather confident that that teams wouldn't take a hit in their fanbases at all. But now fans are proving that they're not afraid to go elsewhere for their hockey entertainment.

The Rockford IceHogs opened their season against the Chicago Wolves over the weekend with a roster that included a number of Blackhawks players. A number of fans already stated they would be attending AHL games as the United Center remains quiet, but how has this affected their opinions on the NHL lockout?

While some fans were just happy to be watching hockey again, seeing Rockford on the ice just made them miss the Blackhawks even more.

But when it comes down to it, hockey fans just want to see hockey and will catch a glimpse of the sport wherever they can.

Now that fans are going elsewhere to watch hockey, they're given the opportunity to build loyalty and a relationship with another team, which could disprove Bettman's belief that all fans will be back when the season returns.

Has the start of the AHL season affected your outlook of the NHL lockout?

Fire draft two Charlotte 49ers to close out draft

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USA TODAY

Fire draft two Charlotte 49ers to close out draft

The Chicago Fire drafted three players in the first two rounds of the MLS draft on Friday and added another two players in the draft's final two rounds on Tuesday.

The Fire selected two players out of Charlotte in the final two rounds. Midfielder Brandt Bronico went with the third pick in the third round, No. 47 overall, and defender Matej Dekovic was picked with the third pick in the fourth round, No. 69 overall.

Bronico was a key cog all four years at Charlotte. He was a three-time First-Team Conference USA selection and Conference USA Player of the Year as a senior. He totaled 25 goals and 23 assists in four years, including nine goals and five assists in 18 matches as a senior. He had eight goals and 10 assists as a junior.

Bronico also scored an eye-catching goal on the final day of the MLS Combine.

Dekovic is a defender born in Zagreb, Croatia. He was a First-Team Conference USA pick this fall while playing at left back. The Fire don't have much depth currently at outside back, but Dekovic's status as an international player will give him an uphill battle to make the team.

The Fire open preseason camp in six days on Monday, Jan. 23.

White Sox prospect Michael Kopech fires a 110 mph max velocity throw

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USA TODAY

White Sox prospect Michael Kopech fires a 110 mph max velocity throw

It's no secret that White Sox pitching prospect Michael Kopech throws hard.

Acquired in the trade that sent ace Chris Sale to the Red Sox, Kopech was clocked throwing a pitch 105 mph last July while pitching for the Salem Red Sox.

But that's nothing compared to what the No. 4 right-handed pitching prospect in baseball did on Tuesday.

Granted, Kopech was throwing an underload baseball (which he confirmed in a response to the original tweet), but 110 mph is 110 mph.

The White Sox would settle for a few miles per hour less on the mound, but either way it looks like they've got a good one.