Blackhawks view latest cancellations as a 'scare tactic'

925471.png

Blackhawks view latest cancellations as a 'scare tactic'

For players, nothing the NHL does is even a shock anymore. Not even canceling a months worth of games, as the league did on Friday afternoon, raises eyebrows anymore.

Theyre still going down that road that theyre going to keep exercising the power they have to try and lock us out, to try and cancel games to try and sway us their way, said Jonathan Toews prior to the Champs for Charity game at Allstate Arena on Friday night. Well see what happens in the next little while.

What happened Friday was, what Blackhawks defenseman and player representative Steve Montador called a dagger in the heart of all hockey fans and players.

We could come to deal and play some games in November, though unlikely at this point. So for the league to cancel that many is a tactic in itself, Montador said. These actions do nothing other them to strengthen our resolve and motivate the players to do whats right or us and the sport.

Patrick Kane called the cancellations a scare tactic.

We knew it was coming, said Kane, who will be heading to Switzerland on Sunday to play hockey there for a bit. Still, he holds out hope for a new deal. I know with basketball last year, it started on Christmas Day and had a successful season. We want to be on the ice playing. This (charity game) proves that.

The question is, what happens next?

It seems the two sides have talked to the media more than theyve talked to each other in recent weeks. The statements released by both on failed negotiations are adding up, as are the number of canceled games. And events such as the Winter Classic, which has become incredibly popular, could be on the chopping block next.

Theyve done all this so far because they can, Toews said. It doesnt matter how much we try to reason with them. I saw it in the meeting room last week. We worked very hard coming up with those three proposals. They dont have courtesy to look at it or discuss them. Its been proven over time theyre on a timeline to see how much they can squeeze us for. Were just waiting to see what happens next. Thats why were staying patient. Thats all we can do.

On Friday night Blackhawks players, as well as others forgot about the lockout for a little while for the Champs for Charity game. It was a chance for the fans to see their favorites on the ice again, albeit briefly. Toews said the players understand the fans frustration.

Were right there with them. Its not fair to (the fans) and a lot of people who love the game, love coming to watch their favorite payers and team play, no matter what city theyre in, Toews said. You can have (the NHL and NHLPA) arguing until theyre blue in the face. As players we feel we have a lot of reason on our side. But at the end of the day the facts dont matter. (The fans) are frustrated, so you feel for them.

Cubs' Anthony Rizzo gets day off vs. Mariners

Cubs' Anthony Rizzo gets day off vs. Mariners

Anthony Rizzo isn't in the lineup on Saturday afternoon as the Cubs battle the Seattle Mariners.

The Cubs first baseman is getting the day off. 

"He’s really been needing a day, so it just turned out really well for today," said manager Joe Maddon. "Day game and then a night game tomorrow actually gives him more of an extended time to rest. We rely on him so heavily all the time. It was just the right thing to do today."

Willson Contreras will be his replacement for the day.

Saturday is the first regular-season day off for Rizzo since June 5 — and first since the All-Star break nearly three weeks ago. 

“I think it’s important to give them time off, I really do," Maddon said. "I think it’s really unrealistic to expect high-end performance by pushing someone to 162 games. ...A guy like Rizz, maybe he needs five or six plus for regular off days in a year to really be productive consistently."

Maddon also stressed the fact that he wants to keep his players healthy and not overwork them.

"I don’t want to wait til a guy who gets hurt to need a day off," Maddon said. "I’d rather be proactive with that. I put out the feelers yesterday to ask around who’s going to be needing a day. So I have other ideas coming up possibly, but for today it was absolutely the right thing to do for Rizz."

Rizzo is batting .214/.250/.464 in 14 games after the break. His 24 homers and 79 RBIs are among the league's best.

Rizzo has missed three games this season, two of which were due to back stiffness.

"I think it’s wise to be proactive, physically and mentally to give them their rest," Maddon said. "I think you’re going to get a sharper performance on a more consistent basis."

With Ted Larsen, Bears O-line doesn't yet need SOS call

With Ted Larsen, Bears O-line doesn't yet need SOS call

The story from about five years ago goes like this: Ted Larsen and his girlfriend were out on the water, deep sea fishing, when they heard a Coast Guard warning about three kayakers in distress. Realizing the location was relatively nearby, Larsen immediately headed to the area, found the trio, and pulled them aboard before any other help could get there.

The Bears offensive line isn't in nearly as much distress, but after the retirements of veterans Manny Ramirez and Nate Chandler before they would even play a game for them, along with Kyle Long going down on with a calf strain in Thursday's opening practice of training camp, the former Buccaneer and Cardinal may be an important lifeline on Dave Magazu's unit.

"We gotta get some depth there. We have very little depth," Larsen said earlier this week in Bourbonnais. "The guys we do have are good. I think it's just finding the five best guys we have and throw them out there. There's competition everywhere, obviously besides Kyle, so...I'm ready to play whatever position. I've started ten-plus games at every position inside. Wherever they need me to help the team out, I'm ready to go."

Which he wasn't back in June, missing the last half of OTAs and the entire three-day mandatory minicamp with a calf strain of his own. Long was on the sidelines Saturday watching practice without the boot he'd been wearing the previous two days in hopes of speeding the healing process. And while the team's encouraged it's not a long-term injury, flashbacks of Alshon Jeffery's struggles that began with a calf strain a year ago will force them to proceed cautiously.

[MORE: Bears sign Willie Young to two-year contract extension]

As a result, Larsen's stepped in for Long at right guard when the original plan was to have him compete with second-round pick Cody Whitehair and Hroniss Grasu (who have one season of NFL experience between them) at left guard and center, respectively. In his six-year career, Larsen's started 34 games at left guard, 13 at right guard, and ten at center.

"As the unit gets better, the whole team gets better. I'm not scared of any rookies or younger guys. I've played a lot of games, some playoff games. We all have experience in this league. Whoever's out there is out there, whether I'm playing center and helping Cody, or I'm helping Grasu, or whatever it is. You don't want guys to play worse, you want `em to play better, so when you're in there, you're playing at a high level."

The Bears struck on the opening day of free agency to sign Larsen's Arizona teammate from the last two seasons, Bobby Massie, to become their new right tackle. Two weeks later, Larsen followed.

"It's a program on the rise," the 29-year-old explained. "Bobby had signed here.  We played together and it was just another opportunity to come in on a one-year ($1.65 million) deal. It's kinda what I wanted. Play well, have a chance to start, and be on a competitive team."

[SHOP: Gear up for the 2016 season, Bears fans!

The deal came a day after Ramirez originally signed and a month before Whitehair was drafted and Matt Slauson subsequently cut. Things have changed again since then, and for a team adapting to more of a zone-blocking scheme under new offensive coordinator Dowell Loggains, cohesion and communication and comfort is crucial before the regular season starts.

Larsen originally played alongside Willie Young as a defensive lineman at North Carolina State before being switched to the other side of the line his junior season. Larsen was a sixth-round draft pick of New England in 2010, but was subsequently cut. Young was a seventh-rounder by Detroit that year. As Young earned a two-year contract extension Saturday, Larsen hopes to prove his worth to the Bears this season, as well. While avid fisherman Young reeled in a new deal, Larsen shares the same off-field passion, part of the reason he was around to help rescue those kayakers.

"We actually were on a flight to Fort Lauderdale this offseason, same day. He was actually going to fish somewhere else and I was going to the (Florida) Keys. It's definitely a mutual interest, same for Bobby Massie - he's another big fisherman."

Who's the best?

"I dunno," Larsen answers. "We just do it for fun."

27 Days to Kickoff: Whitney Young

27 Days to Kickoff: Whitney Young

CSNChicago.com preps reporter "Edgy" Tim O’Halloran spotlights 100 high school football teams in 100 days. The first 75 team profiles will focus on teams making strides across Chicagoland and elsewhere in the state. Starting Aug. 1, we’ll unveil the @CSNPreps Top 25 Power Rankings, leading up to kickoff on Friday, Aug. 26. You can view Edgy Tim's other football previews here.

School: Whitney Young

Head coach: Tim Franken

Assistant coaches: Victor Marin, Chris Mallette, Cam Browns and Matt Derrig.

How they fared in 2015: 9-1 (7-0) CPL Chicago Big Shoulders Conference. Whitney Young made the Class 7A state playoff field and lost to Niles North in opening-round action.

Biggest storyline in 2016: How will the Dolphins fare moving up to the CPL Illini Red Bird conference this season?

Names to watch this season: RB Ke'Vaughn Chappell, OL/DL Justeon Kimmons

Biggest holes to fill: Can the Dolphins find some answers at quarterback and linebacker after graduation losses from this past spring?

EDGY's Early Take: Whitney Young has been very strong over the past few seasons, and now comes a move up in competition to the rugged CPL Illinois Red Bird conference. Having an All-State running back in Chappell and four returning offensive linemen should help the Dolphins chances this season.