Blackhawks view latest cancellations as a 'scare tactic'

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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 Talk Podcast: Breaking down the World Series hangover

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USA TODAY

Cubs Talk Podcast: Breaking down the World Series hangover

Do the Cubs have a World Series hangover?

On the latest edition of the Cubs Talk Podcast, NBC Sports Bay Area Giants Insider Alex Pavlovic joins CSN's Patrick Mooney to talk about the World Series hangover, how last year's playoff loss lingered in San Francisco, Johnny Cueto's quirks, the legend of Madison Bumgarner and Jeff Samardzija's ups and downs.

Plus Kelly Crull, Jeff Nelson and Tony Andracki break down the Cubs’ defensive struggles this year compared to an historic 2016 and how Ian Happ fits into the Cubs’ lineup in both the short and long term.

Listen to the latest episode below:

What does Caleb Swanigan's departure for NBA mean for Purdue and the 2018 Big Ten title race?

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USA TODAY

What does Caleb Swanigan's departure for NBA mean for Purdue and the 2018 Big Ten title race?

Caleb Swanigan, unsurprisingly, is heading to the NBA.

Last season’s Big Ten Player of the Year announced Wednesday that he’ll pass up the final two seasons of his NCAA eligibility for a paying gig at the professional level, an awesome opportunity for a kid who battled obesity and homelessness to become one of the best basketball players in the country.

But Swanigan’s departure from West Lafayette means a heck of a lot to the Big Ten.

Without the league’s most dominant big man, what becomes of Purdue’s chances at winning a conference title? Similarly, with a weakened — though still strong — group of Boilermakers, what does the Big Ten race look like going into 2017-18?

First, Purdue. Matt Painter’s program is plenty healthy, and while there’s no doubt that losing Swanigan is a big deal, the Boilers got some really good news, too, Wednesday when Vincent Edwards announced he’ll be returning for his senior season. Seven-footer Isaac Haas also made the decision to return to West Lafayette, meaning the towering frontcourt hasn’t been completely decimated just because tha man called “Biggie” is gone.

Purdue will also return Carsen Edwards, who had an impressive freshman campaign, and Dakota Mathias, a terrific defender and 3-point shooter. Two more important pieces — P.J. Thompson and Ryan Cline — are back, as well. And Painter will welcome in freshman Nojel Eastern, a highly touted guard from Evanston.

So the Boilers are still in very good shape. There will be a big magnifying glass on Haas, who despite his physical attributes hasn’t always found consistent on-court success. But there have been plenty of flashes of brilliance from the big man. A big step forward in his game would go a long way in easing the blow of losing Swanigan and could keep Purdue as one of the frontrunners for a conference title.

That brings us to the Big Ten race. Ever since Miles Bridges, the conference’s reigning Freshman of the Year, announced he’d be returning to Michigan State for his sophomore season, the Spartans have been the near-unanimous favorite. Only something like Swanigan deciding to stay at Purdue could’ve changed that. And with Swanigan expectedly heading to the NBA, Michigan State remains the preseason pick to win the conference crown.

Like any good year in the Big Ten, though, there will be challengers.

But Michigan State is the popular choice to win it because of Tom Izzo’s insane 2016 recruiting class is returning completely intact: Bridges, Nick Ward, Cassius Winston and Joshua Langford are all back. And Izzo brings in one of the top 2017 recruits in forward Jaren Jackson.

But Sparty isn’t the only one with an impressive returning group. Purdue’s experienced roster has already been covered. Northwestern, a surprise contender in 2016-17, should be even better as Bryant McIntosh, Vic Law and Scottie Lindsey enter their fourth year playing together. Dererk Pardon, a shot-blocking whiz at center, is also back, as is sharp-shooter Aaron Falzon, who sat out the 2016-17 season with an injury after starting during his freshman year in 2015-16.

There will be big shoes to fill for some perennial contenders like Maryland — which must replace Melo Trimble — and Michigan, which watched eligibility run out on Derrick Walton Jr. and Zak Irvin before D.J. Wilson decided to head to the professional ranks Wednesday. But those teams have plenty of talent returning, too. The Terps will have all three of their fab freshmen — Justin Jackson, Anthony Cowan and Kevin Huerter — back for sophomore seasons, while the Wolverines have Moe Wagner back in the fold alongside Xavier Simpson and Duncan Robinson, among others.

And what of last year’s shocking contender, Minnesota? The Golden Gophers didn’t lose too much this offseason and will return almost every main player from last year’s 24-10 squad: Amir Coffey, Nate Mason, Reggie Lynch, Jordan Murphy, Dupree McBrayer and Eric Curry.

There are up-and-comers to think about, too, such as last year’s freshman-heavy squads at Iowa and Penn State. And could new head coaches Brad Underwood and Archie Miller make instant splashes at Illinois and Indiana, respectively?

If it sounds a little too much like the annual coach speak that “any team can win on any night” in the Big Ten, that’s because there is a good deal of truth to that oft-used phrase.

There are definitely tiers to this thing, though. Even without Swanigan, Purdue is still in one of those upper tiers. But there might be no team besides Michigan State at the very top of the heap, something underscored by Swanigan turning pro.