Word on the Street: NBA postpones training camp

Word on the Street: NBA postpones training camp

Thursday Sept. 22, 2011
NBA postpones training camp

There was no deal when both the owners and players union met on Thursday and there won't be another negotiation until next week. However, players have agreed to lower their cut to 53 percent. The league and the union have said that there is still enough time to reach a deal so the season could start on time. That same statement was not indicated in the meeting on Thursday. (AOL SportingNews)

FOX to apologize?

FOX admitted to their faulty headlines about Chicago Bears quarterback Jay Cutler,so where's the apology? Fox's vice president of communication Dan Bellsaid Nobody tries to be more perfect than we do at Fox Sports . . . .We understand that we were wrong. OK, where's the real apology? Belldoesn't feel the need to apologize live during or before the game on Sundayagainst the Packers. He said they already apologized to the Tribune and on the The Score 670. Bell also said he thinks they've made itclear that they apologized. (Chicago Tribune)
Farewell Ramirez?

Has Aramis Ramirez taken his last at-bat for the Cubs? It seems as though the Cubs have decided to let him go as a free agent rather than picking up the option on his contract. He would come at a high price on the open market, with a batting average of .302 and 92 RBIs. He's the best third baseman on the North Side since Ron Santo. Ramirez could sign with the Tigers, Angels or Yankees. (Chicago Tribune)

Metta World Peace donates to mental charities
Metta World Peace has chosen to give away more than 500,000 to mental charities in the nation. He raised the money by auctioning his 2010 Lakers championship ring. World Peace has already donated 285,000. World Peace has a special place in his heart for the mental health of children since he had problems at 13 years old. (ProBasketball Talk)

Report: Dexter Fowler closing in on deal with Cardinals

Report: Dexter Fowler closing in on deal with Cardinals

Dexter Fowler won't be making a surprise return to the Cubs next season.

Fowler is closing in on a deal to sign with the St. Louis Cardinals, according to USA Today's Bob Nightengale.

The Cubs signed outfielder Jon Jay last week to a one-year deal, pretty much sealing Fowler's future with the Cubs.

In two seasons in Chicago, Fowler batted .261/.367/.427 with 30 home runs and 94 RBI, and a World Series ring.

Blackhawks improve faceoffs in Jonathan Toews’ absence

Blackhawks improve faceoffs in Jonathan Toews’ absence

Yanic Perreault came onto the ice as the Blackhawks wrapped up practice on Thursday.

It’s been a relatively common sight the last few seasons. Most of the time, Perreault has helped out when a particular player is struggling from the faceoff dot. That was true with Artem Anisimov earlier this season. But with Jonathan Toews sidelined the Blackhawks have been even more focused on improving upon and winning faceoffs. Thanks to the extra diligence, they’ve done that.

The Blackhawks’ overall faceoff performance has steadily improved. They’ll see how it goes again on Friday night when they face the New York Rangers, their eighth consecutive game without Toews.

“We’re working almost every practice and trying to get better on faceoffs,” Anisimov said on Thursday. “If we win the faceoff, we start with the puck and it’s pretty good. You can go to the offensive zone or win in the offensive zone you start with the puck and you have the opportunity to shoot the puck all day and get chances. It’s a big part of the game.”

Enter Perreault, who was a great faceoff man during his NHL career. The Blackhawks players say Perreault offers a wealth of information in each session.

“It’s different every day. The whole science behind it, he’s been great since he was brought in,” Marcus Kruger said. “He always has something new he wants us to work on, whether it’s just timing or body-positioning or something like that. It’s a lot of different stuff and we work on new stuff every day.”

Rasmussen agreed.

“It’s a lot of things you can work on,” he said. “You try to work on being in a low position so you get stronger. [There are] a lot of small things on how you can go against other guys that do it certain way, and you have to find your own way, too.”

[SHOP: Gear up, Blackhawks fans!]

Their first game without Toews, against the Anaheim Ducks, was dismal. Part of that is the Ducks having some tremendous face-off guys. But Toews is the Blackhawks’ best at the dot – he’s won 60.3 percent of the time this season – so that first game without him was rough.

Here’s how things have progressed for the Blackhawks, with faceoffs won and lost and percentage, in Toews’ absence.

Opponent Wins-Losses Percent
Ducks 18-49 27 percent
Kings 21-37 36 percent
Panthers 39-35 53 percent
Devils 22-27 45 percent
Flyers 22-31 42 percent
Jets 31-27 53 percent
Coyotes 30-28 52 percent

So yes, there’s been improvement.

“I think we hold our own,” coach Joel Quenneville said. “Yan works well with our center men, they take pride in trying to be the best they can and now they’re taking some important faceoffs and some they probably haven’t taken in the past, whether they’re defensive or special-teams faceoffs. They’ve all won some important faceoffs for us at key times, too.”

The Blackhawks have done their best filling the void left by Toews, especially on faceoffs. There’s been a lot of work put into it, especially with Perreault following practices. But the results have been there.

“We know we’d like to start with the puck, and we had a couple of tough games when Jonny went down initially,” Quenneville said. “But it’s been much better since.”