Despite injury, Beach still optimistic about future with Blackhawks

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Despite injury, Beach still optimistic about future with Blackhawks

Kyle Beach was on one of the buses that drove through downtown Chicago to celebrate the 2010 Stanley Cup championship in front of millions of fans -- the Hawks wanted the talented youngster to get a small taste of NHL glory.

Two years later, the former top prospect is still waiting for his first official NHL action while others -- Andrew Shaw, Jimmy Hayes, Brandon Saad, Marcus Kruger, Brandon Pirri -- have passed him by.

"He went from being the dominant scorer in junior hockey, then he comes to the pro level and its not as easy right off the bat, Blackhawks general manager Stan Bowman told Blackhawks.com.

Beach, the 11th overall pick in the first round of the 2008 draft, was once viewed as the next great power forward of the organization. In 2009-10, he scored 52 goals with 34 assists and 186 penalty minutes in 68 games for the WHL's Spokane Chiefs. In 2010-11, he scored 16 goals with 20 assists and 163 penalty minutes in 71 games for the Rockford IceHogs.

Last season, Beach got off to a solid start with five goals and five assists in 19 games before a shoulder injury forced him to miss 57 games.

Still only 22, Beach knows he must be patient for his shot in Chicago. But he also knows next season is crucial for his development.

This year is huge for me; its the last year of my entry level deal, so technically its a contract year, Beach told Blackhawks.com. I still feel that I have a lot to prove, not only to the fans and the organizations, but myself as well. I want to prove to myself that I can play and contribute.

Three keys and prediction: Notre Dame - Syracuse

Three keys and prediction: Notre Dame - Syracuse

Here are three keys and a prediction for Saturday's Notre Dame-Syracuse game in New Jersey.

1. Make a play on Amba Etta-Tawo: Orange quarterback Eric Dungey targets Etta-Tawo, college football’s leading receiver through four weeks, an average of 13 times a game. Covering Etta-Tawo well is one thing, but that won’t necessarily mean Dungey will look elsewhere to throw the ball. Senior Cole Luke will probably get the first crack at guarding Etta-Tawo, and he’ll have to make a few plays on the ball (a tipped pass, an interception, etc.) to force Dungey out of his comfort zone. If Luke can’t do it, look for an underclassmen — Donte Vaughn, who picked off a pass against Duke, would have to lead that next group — to step in. Stopping Etta-Tawo would go a long way toward keeping the points down against Syracuse’s going-to-plaid offense. 

2. Meet “the standard” on offense. DeShone Kizer has been somewhere between very good and great this season, but it hasn’t been enough for Notre Dame to avoid any of their three losses. Syracuse’s defense is prone to allowing explosive plays and has struggled against the run, so triggering Josh Adams, Dexter Williams and/or Tarean Folston on the ground could allow Kizer to pick apart the Orange secondary as the game goes on. Most importantly, Kizer and his teammates need to avoid carelessly turning the ball over, as they did a few times against Michigan State and Syracuse. 

3. Effective play from the young guys. Kelly said one of the defensive changes we’ll see going forward is a lot more younger, talented players getting on the field in situations in which they weren’t equipped to in Brian VanGorder’s complex defense. Maybe that means defensive end Daelin Hayes using his elite pass rushing trait to pressure Dungey, or linebacker Asmar Bilal using his excellent speed trait to run with a crossing route and break up a pass. No matter how it happens, it has to happen — with that “it” being making defensive plays. Without sacks, TFLs, fumbles and/or interceptions, all that talk of Notre Dame having more “fun” this week will ring hollow on Saturday.

 

Prediction: Notre Dame 45, Syracuse 42. Adams and Williams both have big games on the ground and Kizer leads an offensive oscillating between explosive and efficient to, for the first time this year, enough points to overcome a shaky defensive performance. 

Cubs make it official: Jed Hoyer, Jason McLeod extended

Cubs make it official: Jed Hoyer, Jason McLeod extended

It was no secret after Theo Epstein's contract extension on Wednesday, but the Cubs officially announced extensions for general manager Jed Hoyer and senior vice president of scouting and player development Jason McLeod on Friday.

The new contracts run through the 2021 season.

Both Hoyer and McLeod joined the Cubs on Nov. 1, 2011. The team is set for its second straight postseason appearance this October.

CSN Chicago's Cubs Insider Patrick Mooney had more on Epstein keeping the band together when Epstein's deal was first announced on Wednesday.