Toews returning to form


Toews returning to form

Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews announced his arrival in a big way in the opening game of the playoff series with the Coyotes, scoring the first Chicago goal of the game.

Toews missed the end of the regular season after suffering a concussion and Thursday was his first game back.

He discussed his health status Monday as the Blackhawks gear up for Game 3 at the United Center, tied with Phoenix 1-1 after the first two games.

"I feel good," he said. "There hasn't been any residual effects from an injury like that. For the most part, it's just timing and speed. It's energy. It's all those things that will keep coming."

Check out more of his comments in the video below:

After Bears release Antrel Rolle, Matt Slauson, question looms: Who else?


After Bears release Antrel Rolle, Matt Slauson, question looms: Who else?

Just as the draft selections of guard Cody Whitehair heralded the Chicago end for Matt Slauson, and safeties Deon Bush and DeAndre Houston-Carson brought in alternatives to Antrel Rolle – both vets let go sooner rather than later – an obvious question hanging fire right now in the wake of other draft picks and signings is, “Who else?”

One expectation this offseason is that the Bears would make a difficult decision on rush-linebacker Lamarr Houston, who’s due $6 million this year and next and $8 million for 2018. That situation won’t stand as-is.

The final year of Willie Young’s contract calls for $2.5 million this season. That’s only slightly less than the $2.9 million Slauson was due for 2016 and that was rendered expendable by the Whitehair draft selection and the signings of Ted Larsen and Manny Ramirez.

In the Houston-Young cases, the Bears used a No. 1 pick on Leonard Floyd, a Young-type edge rusher. They used a No. 3 pick on Jonathan Bullard, a 290-pound defensive end with size-rush blend that Young doesn’t have. The Bears re-signed Sam Acho, who doesn’t give the Bears what Houston does as an edge rusher, but Houston doesn’t do anything on special teams, the roster entrée for non-starters.

Then there is the matter of Eddie Royal, with an injury speckled 2015 injury resume’ that defines “vulnerable” for player at age 30 and carrying a $4.5 million salary for 2016. What little the Bears did draft-wise on offense included diminutive wideout Danny Braverman in the seventh round.

Teams don’t make roster decisions based on seventh-round picks before the first minicamp. But Braverman, who led all FBS schools in receptions last year, is 5-10, around 180 pounds.

Forget the knee-jerk comparisons to Danny Amendola, Julian Edelman and Wes Welker just because they’re little white guys (and why is it that people grab those instant so-called comparables based on skin color? For another time.)

But NFL slot receivers in the Braverman mold include Seattle’s undrafted Doug Baldwin (5-10, 189, also a Florida native like Braverman); Randall Cobb (5-10) up in Green Bay, a No. 3 slot guy his first three NFL seasons; Jamison Crowder, a true smurf at 5-8 who caught 59 passes for Washington as a rookie.

Braverman does not make Royal roster-surplus the way Whitehair did Slauson, or Bush did Rolle, or Floyd makes Houston or Young (whom the Bears reportedly tried to trade during the draft). And Royal was banged up in part because he was thrust into a starter role by the injuries to Alshon Jeffery and Kevin White.

But numbers on depth charts and salary cap balance sheets force decisions. And the surprise of the offseason would be if the Bears were done making theirs.

Blackhawks: Patrick Kane, Jonathan Toews have taken their bromance to Twitter


Blackhawks: Patrick Kane, Jonathan Toews have taken their bromance to Twitter

Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews have always had a brother-type relationship on and off the ice since coming up to the National Hockey League together in 2007-08, and now their bromance has shifted to social media.

Toews, who turned 28 years old last Friday, received birthday wishes all day from fans on Twitter, including Kane, who doesn't tweet often — at least during the season.

While the birthday wish was appreciated, the Blackhawks captain still felt a little empty:

It took a few days but Kane eventually gave in on Wednesday and followed Toews, albeit reluctantly:

Meanwhile, Toews is still getting the hang of Twitter.

Many of the replies he gets are from fans calling him "dad" or "goat," and he can't figure out why:

The Blackhawks even offered to inform him what it means, but the fans were quick to let Toews know (GOAT is short for "greatest of all time"):

Signing off for the day, Toews couldn't help but throw a friendly jab at Kane:

Oh, and Scott Darling joined in on the fun later on, posting a GIF of an actual goat:

It's safe to say the Blackhawks aren't used to these long summers. Chicago isn't either.

World Series Avenue: This rap from a Cubs minor leaguer is the freshest thing you'll hear all day


World Series Avenue: This rap from a Cubs minor leaguer is the freshest thing you'll hear all day

Cubs fans aren't the only ones living and dying with every pitch.

John Williamson - a pitcher for the Cubs' Class-A affiliate in South Bend - created a rap about the big-league club and it's pretty incredible:

South Bend pregame freestyle. Go check out my guy @johnny_beisbol #SBCubs #whenithappens #embracetheflow

A video posted by Darnell McDonald (@macdime54) on

Here's an excerpt of that rap, posted by Darnell McDonald, the Cubs' mental skills program coordinator:

"'Bout to win 100 games,
J-Hey 'bout to make a play, 
Lester get the K, 
We feelin' fresh today, 
Got the 'dub' yesterday. 
New team with the World Series attitude. 
Road to the 'ship: That's the World Series avenue. 
I'm feelin' like the baddest dude, 
Fowler on the bases, 
Yeah, we winnin' pennant races, 
That's the Wrigley renovation."

Killin' it, dude.

This isn't new for Williamson, the Cubs' 23rd-round pick in the 2015 MLB Draft.

The left-handed pitcher is actually a rapper, too, by the name of Swilson (formerly J Willy).

His album hit iTunes and Spotify in February. 

Check out some of his stuff on his YouTube page.

Here's to more Cubs raps as the year goes on, Swilson.