Blackhawks breakdown: Jamal Mayers

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Blackhawks breakdown: Jamal Mayers

CSNChicago.com Blackhawks Insider Tracey Myers and PGL host Chris Boden will evaluate the 2011-12 performance of each player on the Hawks roster. One breakdown will occur every weekday in numerical order.

In his 13th full season, the 37-year-old Jamal Mayers played in 81 games and averaged just under 10 minutes per game playing primarily on the fourth line and seeing some time on the penalty-killing unit. Mayers scored six goals and had nine assists, finishing at minus-4. He accumulated 91 penalty minutes and delivered 102 hits. Mayers only played in three of the six playoff games, going minus-1 with five hits and zero points.

Boden's take: It was one of the curious twists in the playoff series with Phoenix: Jamal Mayers' benching after Game 3. He played his role almost to perfection during the entire regular season, missing just one game due to illness, protecting his teammates as well as anyone and guiding a lot of inexperienced linemates along. Joel Quenneville denied right after the season that it had anything to do with Mayers not going after Raffi Torres when his hit ended the season for Marian Hossa (Brandon Bollig jumped right in). Mayers won 56 percent of his faceoffs during the regular season, but struggled late and into the Coyotes series. Quenneville said he just wanted to give a different look with Brendan Morrison, who wound up playing his best hockey for the Hawks in Games 4, 5 and 6.

Myers' take: The Blackhawks, and especially Quenneville, knew what they were getting when they brought in Mayers this season: a tough, supporting-cast veteran who wasn't afraid to defend a teammate. He was the only one who did so when Jonathan Toews was getting smacked around by the San Jose Sharks back in February. But after filling the job duties during the regular season, Mayers was suddenly a healthy scratch for the Blackhawks' final three postseason games. Some wondered if Mayers was benched after not retaliating after Torres' hit on Hossa in Game 3 against the Coyotes, but Quenneville said that had nothing to do with the scratching. Whatever the reason, Mayers was out.

2012-13 Expectations

Boden: Once Mayers finally talked about his benching, he placed the blame squarely on his shoulders for "putting himself" in a position where he was scratched, without providing further details. He was certainly worthy of re-signing to another one-year contract (costing just 550,000 last season), but the way things ended casts a dark cloud on his return. His offensive output was the same as it'd been the previous three years. Mayers definitely has some hockey left in him as he turns 38 in October. It just doesn't appear, at this point, to be a second straight year here. And right now, the center depth chart reads Toews, Patrick Kane, Dave Bolland and Marcus Kruger.

Myers: Re-signing Mayers looked like a distinct possibility through the winter months. Now it seems doubtful for several reasons. The biggest was that postseason benching. Here are two more: (1) Mayers will turn 38 in the fall and the Blackhawks have younger guys (Brandon Bollig, Jimmy Hayes), who can fill their sizeedge needs. (2) The Blackhawks have already re-signed younger agitator Daniel Carcillo, whom general manager Stan Bowman showered praise (without even being asked about the forward) on the season-ending media day.
How do you feel about this evaluation? As always, be sure to chime in with your thoughts by commenting below and check out highlights of Mayers above.

Up next: Viktor Stalberg

Hawks Talk Podcast: Blackhawks' bottom six steps up in Colorado

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AP

Hawks Talk Podcast: Blackhawks' bottom six steps up in Colorado

On the latest Hawks Talk Podcast, Pat Boyle and Jamal Mayers discuss the bottom six carrying the Blackhawks to a come-from-behind win over the Colorado Avalanche on Tuesday night.

Later, Mayers weighs in on possible targets with the NHL trade deadline just six weeks away.

Listen to the latest episode of the Hawks Talk Podcast below:

Pro Football Focus gives Bears linebacker Jerrell Freeman historical 2016 grade

Pro Football Focus gives Bears linebacker Jerrell Freeman historical 2016 grade

Bears GM Ryan Pace struck gold with his signing of Jerrell Freeman last offseason.

Freeman, who signed a three-year, $12 million contract with the Bears last March, was graded as the NFL's No. 1 inside linebacker in 2016, according to Pro Football Focus.

Freeman's 93.8 overall grade was PFF's third-highest defensive grade behind Los Angeles Rams All-Pro defensive lineman Aaron Donald (95.6) and Oakland Raiders standout edge rusher Khalil Mack (93.9). 

Here's what PFF's Mike Renner had to say about Freeman's historic 2016 season:

One of the most impressive pure statistics any player amassed this season came from Bears linebacker Jerrell Freeman. He made 40 tackles in coverage while missing only one tackle attempt. That ratio is insane, and it’s the best we’ve recorded since 2012. That’s about the only exciting stat, though, as the Bears’ front-seven desperately missed a fully-healthy Pernell McPhee for a good portion of the year.

Despite Freeman's outstanding season, he was left off of PFF's All-Pro Team for 2016. Although he was ranked ahead of Seahawks linebacker Bobby Wagner (91.6) and Carolina Panthers linebacker Luke Kuechly (92.9), PFF likely omitted Freeman due to him missing four games with a PED suspension.

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In his first season with the Bears, the 30-year-old Freeman led the team with 110 tackles (the next highest total was Harold Jones-Quartey's 78). Freeman also finished with a team-high 7 tackles for a loss. 

Check out a snapshot below of Freeman's PFF metrics from last season:

If there's any doubt about Freeman's play falling off after serving a suspension, he put that theory to rest. Freeman's second-best game grade came in Week 17 against the Minnesota Vikings (3.5). Freeman also had a positive grade (1.4) in his first game coming off the suspension against the Washington Redskins in Week 16.

"People know me," Freeman told the media after returning from suspension. "People know who I am. People know what I'm about. I wouldn't do that on purpose. I made a mistake and that's what it is. It's not like I was going out of my way to do something (illegal). But it happened. It's my fault and I take responsibility for it."