Konroyd: NHL making an example of Shaw?

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Konroyd: NHL making an example of Shaw?

Let me first start out by stating that I appreciate and commend everything Brendan Shanahan has done in being a big part of the NHL.

Whether it was as a talented player or rule modifier hosting the "Shanahan Summit" during the lockout, or even as Vice President of Hockey and Business Development. He has done more in these capacities to help and promote the great game of hockey than any other player, past or present, that I can think of. I think Brendan has found himself in a tough place recently, though. About a week ago, he had an opportunity to send a tough message about needless violence to Shea Weber who, at the end of game one against the Detroit Red Wings, tried to punch and then slam the head of Henrik Zetterberg. Shanahan decided to just fine Weber 2500.

The uproar from fans and the media was instantaneous. It became a NHL public relations nightmare. Later it was learned that had Zetterberg been injured on the play, there would have been a suspension.

Zetterberg, a teammate of Shanahan for a few seasons, said that, and I'm paraphrasing here, "they had an opportunity to set the bar, and they did" meaning they set the bar pretty low and as a result there has been an escalation of incidents on the ice. I think those words from a former teammate hurt Shanny.

Which brings us to Andrew Shaw. Shanahan now has another chance to send a message, and it's a severe one to Mr. Shaw. I'm not going to discuss the intricacies of the collision behind the net. Bottom line is that Shaw can't even go near the goaltender in a situation like that. Nothing good can ever come out of it. But he was given a five-minute major for charging at the time. That is a potential game-changer in any game. Phoenix did score one goal on this power play and they could have had more. And he was kicked out of the contest. That was for more than half of the game.

I could certainly see Shaw getting a one-game suspension, which in the playoffs sends a pretty clear message. But to suspend a player for what could be the rest of the series, after having witnessed what has gone on in a lot of these playoff games, is certainly disappointing, and it feels as if Shaw is being made an example by the NHL. But he'll take his medicine, be a better player for it, and hopefully the Blackhawks can win without his energy and enthusiasm.

Morning Update: Cubs pick up win No. 101, Sale leads White Sox past Rays

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Morning Update: Cubs pick up win No. 101, Sale leads White Sox past Rays

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John Lackey sees Cubs lining up for World Series run: ‘It’s all here’

John Lackey sees Cubs lining up for World Series run: ‘It’s all here’

PITTSBURGH — The Cubs have so much going for them, all this blue-chip talent, a clubhouse mix of young players and grizzled veterans, arguably the best manager in the game, an impactful coaching staff and a front office that blends scouting and analytics as well as anyone.

So, no, John Lackey is not at all surprised by the way this clicked into place, 101 wins and counting for the machine built with October in mind.

“Not really,” Lackey said after Tuesday night’s 6-4 victory over the Pittsburgh Pirates. “I had some pretty good offers from other people, and I chose this one for a reason. It’s all here.”

But to win the World Series — and get the jewelry Lackey talks about — you still need some luck, good health and the guts to perform in those Big Boy Games. That reality of randomness and matchups made a pregame announcement some 250 miles away from PNC Park so telling.

Washington Nationals catcher Wilson Ramos tore the ACL in his right knee, ending his MVP-caliber season. The National League East champions will lose a .307 hitter with 22-homer power from the middle of their lineup and a veteran presence for a playoff rotation that will likely be without injured ace Stephen Strasburg (right elbow) in the first round.

“That’s a tough one when you lose your catcher, a guy who’s that significant for the pitching staff,” Cubs manager Joe Maddon said. “Think about the pitching staff — it’s so different when you know the guy back there is your guy and he knows what’s going on. The communication’s different. The trust factor, all that stuff is different.”

[SHOP CUBS: Get your NL Central champions gear right here]

Within that big-picture context, the Cubs survived as Lackey limited the checked-out Pirates (77-80) to one run across five innings in his fifth start since recovering from a strained right shoulder and coming off the disabled list. Maddon then used six different relievers — staying away from Pedro Strop, Hector Rondon and Aroldis Chapman — during a three-hour, 49-minute game that felt more like the Cactus League.

After defecting from the 100-win St. Louis Cardinals team the Cubs bounced out of last year’s playoffs, Lackey finished the regular season at 11-8 with a 3.35 ERA and 188 1/3 innings.

“I’m going to get to 200,” Lackey said.

Beyond wins and losses, Lackey called this season his career best in terms of “those numbers that they’ve made up in the last few years” like WHIP (1.04) and opponents’ OPS (.646) and whatever. And, no, he doesn’t know his WAR, either: “Not even close.”

Yes, the Cubs got the old-school attitude they wanted when they signed Lackey to a two-year, $32 million deal before the winter meetings. For all the talk about the pitching deficit and the New York Mets after their young guns swept the Cubs out of last year’s NL Championship Series, the Cubs are getting their money’s worth with a guy who will turn 38 in October.

The amazing Mets have lost three of those frontline starters — Matt Harvey (thoracic outlet syndrome), Jacob deGrom (nerve damage in his right elbow) and Steven Matz (bone spur in his left elbow) — and are still holding onto the first wild-card spot, which says something about this playoff field.

This doesn’t guarantee anything in October, but the Cubs are just about as close to full strength as they could reasonably hope now. Instead of the silence that would have come with losing an irreplaceable player like Ramos, the sound system in the postgame clubhouse blasted Snoop Dogg, Dr. Dre and Notorious B.I.G. after their 101st win.

“Yeah, we lost Dexter (Fowler) for a bit,” Maddon said. “We lost (Kyle) Schwarber all year. Otherwise, when a couple pitchers got banged up, whether you’re talking about Rondon or Strop, I don’t think that our injuries have been as magnified because we’ve covered them pretty well.

“We still had our moments, like everybody else has. But when you get to right now, we’re getting well, and hopefully that trend continues. But to lose somebody of that magnitude for them, that’s got to be difficult.”