Blackhawks ready to meet Sharks, ex-mate Niemi

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Blackhawks ready to meet Sharks, ex-mate Niemi

Wednesday, Nov. 24, 2010
Updated 2:57 PM

By Tracey Myers
CSNChicago.com

SAN JOSE, Calif. Antti Niemi said Monday he wanted to play against the Chicago Blackhawks. Now hell get his chance.

Niemi will be the San Jose starter when the Sharks host the Blackhawks here tonight. For Niemi, its not so much besting the old team as it is just getting the Sharks back on track.

Im not trying not to think about the game too much like its too special, he said following morning skate. Its another game and we need to get wins.

Sharks coach Todd McLellan talked of when Antero Nittymaki got the start against his former team, the Tampa Bay Lightning, on Nov. 6. He liked Nittymakis response, as well as the Sharks, in that 5-2 victory. He added that a solid outing tonight could be big for Niemi moving forward.

Thats the team to beat, theyre the ones with the rings on their fingers. So if he can have a solid game against a good team it can help, McLellan said. If it doesnt happen that way, hes been very resilient. The upsides much greater than the downside, and that went into the decision as well.

Meanwhile, the Blackhawks are ready to face their former netminder.

Im not going to tell you guys, but I think I know what Ill shoot, Patrick Kane said of his shot selection. But Kane knows facing Niemi wont be easy.

He has unbelievable lateral movement. If you move him side to side have to pick it up. Hes one of the best Ive ever seen with that. He did a lot of good things for us.

Defenseman Niklas Hjalmarsson said he had dinner with Niemi on Tuesday night and joked that he tried to get into his head.

I know hes a competitive guy and always gives 100 percent out there, he said. Im sure hes going to have a good game tonight and were going to have to be on top of our game to score on him.

Briefly

Hjalmarsson said he doesnt think about what couldve been with the San Jose Sharks, who gave him a four-year, 14-million offer sheet in July.

I thought about that then, but once the season started, not really, he said.

Marty Turco will get the start tonight in net.

Tracey Myers is CSNChicago.com's Blackhawks Insider. Follow Tracey on Twitter @TramyersCSN for up-to-the-minute Hawks information.

As questions about his future remain, David Accam is in his best run with the Fire

As questions about his future remain, David Accam is in his best run with the Fire

For the past two seasons, David Accam was a bright spot on bad Chicago Fire teams.

This season, with more talent on the roster, Accam has blossomed into one of the most dangerous players in the league.

He had a hat trick and an assist in Saturday’s 4-0 win against Orlando. That gives him 10 goals and six assists on the season. Only two other players in Major League Soccer have 16 combined goals and assists, New York City FC's David Villa and teammate Nemanja Nikolic (the leading goal-scorer in the league).

“I thought I could do anything on the pitch today,” Accam said. “I just wanted to enjoy myself and entertain the fans and also help the team win. That’s what we did today, especially after my first goal. I just thought I could get more goals and also help the team win.”

Accam’s big game comes after he sat out the previous two games, which were both played on turf. He wasn’t listed on the injury report, but coach Veljko Paunovic said, “he didn’t recover from the physical issues that he had in the previous game.”

The rest seemed to do Accam some good, but his success in the game (as well as his recent run of eight goals and four assists in his last eight matches) coincides with questions about his future. He was recently rumored to be the target of a Turkish club.

In the past, Accam has spoken about his ambition to play at the highest levels. Typically, that means Europe. General manager Nelson Rodriguez said last month that he expects offers to come in for the 26-year-old because he is a good player in his prime ages.

So is Accam playing like someone trying to earn a new contract? That could be either impressing potential suitors in Europe or boosting his negotiation position with the Fire. Rodriguez has talked about contract negotiations with Accam before, and said those will not resume again until after the season.

“I wanted to be in a team where I would develop as a person and also win trophies, whether here or somewhere (else) I don’t know,” Accam said. “For me, I’m doing really well here and every year if I keep playing well there will be always interest. I know there is a lot of interest because I’m doing well. For me it’s always extra motivation to keep doing well. You don’t know where I will end up, whether here or somewhere else. I’ll just keep playing.”

Accam’s play earned him another call-up to the Ghanaian national team. He will join the team on Sunday for a pair of friendlies in the U.S. The Black Stars will take on Mexico in Houston on June 28 and the U.S. in East Hartford, Conn., on July 1 as the two North American countries prepare for the Gold Cup.

“That’s where I want to be,” Accam said. “I want to be playing for the national team so it’s extra motivation for me to perform well and also to go to the national team.”

Accam has been one of the most productive players in MLS this year, based on goals and assists, and is young enough to draw the attention of plenty of teams. For now, the Fire have him as a key part of the best season the club has had in years.

“I think that he understands very well how to play with the team that we have now and with the teammates that he is surrounded with,” coach Veljko Paunovic said. “We just have to work to give David opportunities… Then we expect that performances like that will come even more.”

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