Random News of the Day: Sealing the deal

454716.jpg

Random News of the Day: Sealing the deal

Tuesday, April 26, 2011
Posted: 8:26 a.m.

By Joe Collins
CSNChicago.com

I took it all for granted. But how was I to know that youd be letting go. Now it cuts like a knife. But it feels so right This wouldnt be the first time things have gone astray. Now youve thrown it all away. Now it cuts like a knife. Bryan Adams, Cuts Like A Knife (1983)

Leave it to one of Vancouvers finest rock stars to put it all into perspective.

Picture this. It's a night out at the bars. You and a few other guys decide to check out this hangout called "Stanley Cup Playoffs. Hey, its the place to hang out this time of year. So you go in, hoist a few, and start people watching. Right away, you notice this amazing girl who is getting chatted up by some dude. Hes a smooth talker, too. He's saying all the right things, she's laughing, they start dancingit seems like a match made in heaven.

This goes on for quite a while. Soon, closing time rolls around. However, this guy who was hitting it big with the hot girl starts having issues. He starts mumbling. He tells a bad joke. Then he spills a drink on her. He goes to ask for her number...and then realizes that he lost his cell phone. You try to feel bad for the guy but also feel like saying, "Hey, nice moves but you have to know how to close the deal."

That guy is the Vancouver Canucks.

READ: Sky-high again, Blackhawks eyeing 7th heaven

The Chicago Blackhawks could complete one of the most epic comebacks in professional sports history Tuesday night-- and contribute to a colossal collapse at the same time. Game 7 between the Hawks and Canucks can be seen on Comcast SportsNet at 9pm. But this will be more than just any old quarterfinal playoff game. One three teams in NHL history have come back from 3-0 deficits to win a playoff series: the 42 Maple Leafs bounced back against the Red Wings to win the Stanley Cup, the 75 Islanders stunned the Penguins in the second round and the Philadelphia Flyers shocked the Bruins last year in the Eastern Conference semis.

For Blackhawks fans, its all gravy this year. The Stanley Cup is already on the mantle. Why not see how much further the house money will go? But for Canucks fans, its something Pepto Bismol couldnt cure. During the last three games, the Blackhawks are resembling that guy that swoops in at the end of the night and gets the hot girls phone number. And theyve done this for two straight seasons nowpossibly going on three. Call it what you want, but dont blame the Blackhawks for exploiting a shaky situation. While the comeback story is intriguing for Chicago, the Vancouver story is nothing short of fascinating. When it comes to professional sports in British Columbia, its the Canucksand a lot of tumbleweeds after that. All eyes are on the guys in blue and green. Right now, the Canucks are the helpless insects. The Blackhawks -- not to mention the Vancouver fans and media -- are the little kid holding the magnifying glass directly over them on a hot, sunny day. And the heat is only going to intensify tonight.

READ: Bickell has wrist surgery, out 6-8 weeks

41 years of failurehave started to weigh on the heads of fans, the media and I think some of the players, Vancouver Sun hockey writer Ian Walker said on Mondays edition of Chicago Tribune Live. There is concern here in Vancouver.

And some of that pressure surfaced Monday in the Canucks locker room. During the scheduled media availability, goalie Roberto Luongo -- the donkey to the thousands of fans holding the tails and pins -- had to excuse himself from the cameras. A reporter asked if he was going to start in net Tuesday night. He called a time out to talk to the public relations guy on what he should say. After a moment, Luongo came back with, "I'm getting ready as if I'm playing. We're not worried where the series is. It's Game 7 and pretty exciting stuff and we've got to take a minute here to realize we're in a situation where we've got to work hard but also enjoy the experience."

Does that sound like a guy, an team, an organization thats ready to seal the deal?

READ: CSN sets new all-time Blackhawks TV ratings record

Things are so micromanaged, Walker added. Players dont know if theyre coming or going. In terms of where Luongos mind is, it seems to be anywhere but on the game right now. Theyre afraid of what to say to the media.

For the record, Luongo will start Tuesday night. But will it matter? I dont think it will. You might think the pressure to win is intense in New York, Chicago or Philadelphia -- but its a different beast in Vancouver. As the Canucks go, so do the fortunes of Vancouver sports fans. Its all or nothing. And the Canucks have proven that the pressure to win is just too much to overcome.

(cue QueenDavid Bowies Under Pressure)

To the Blackhawks: put Vancouver out of its misery. Get the girls phone number. Show Luongo and company how its done.

Its time to seal the deal.

Or something like that.

Dennis Rasmussen looks to build off experience

Dennis Rasmussen looks to build off experience

The Blackhawks’ offseason moves have once again left holes, especially among the forward lines. Considering the experience Dennis Rasmussen gained last season, he could certainly grab the third- or fourth-line center spot.

But Rasmussen isn’t going to pencil in anything yet.

“I don’t really think that way. I always think I have to play as good as possible to earn a spot, and that’s what I think this year, too,” said Rasmussen on Day 3 of Blackhawks training camp. “But it’s really up to me. I have to play well to earn my spot here. That’s what I’m trying to focus on.”

After trading Andrew Shaw, Teuvo Teravainen and Bryan Bickell this offseason, the Blackhawks will be looking for several players to step up and fill voids. Center is one of those spots, and Rasmussen played 44 games there with the Blackhawks last season. Rasmussen spent the long offseason prepping for this campaign, focusing on one thing in particular.

“I always try to work on getting faster, that’s the part of my game I can really improve,” he said. “I can improve everything. But especially getting quicker, that’s what I’m trying to focus.”

Anything else Rasmussen has to do to take that next step?

“I think he’s got to be a little more proactive than reactive out on the ice,” Blackhawks assistant coach Mike Kitchen said. “Kind of be a little bolder in different areas whether it’s in the offensive zone if you’re down between the hash marks, hey, try and take a guy on 1-on-1. But if you’re a neutral zone, you got to be a little more responsible. If you got to pick up the wide winger and come back and play good defensive hockey, that’s what you’ve got to do.”

[SHOP BLACKHAWKS: Get your Blackhawks gear right here]

Rasmussen showed that when he made his NHL debut last season. The Blackhawks recalled him in early December, when they were looking to bolster their bottom six; any offense added was a bonus. He scored three of his four goals in his first seven games – his first came in his NHL debut vs. Nashville.

“He can make more things happen out there,” Kitchen said. “I think he understands that too because he wants to do whatever it takes to make the team.”

Rasmussen wants to be part of this group. He gained some great experience last year, and he hopes it serves him well in trying to get that roster spot this season.

“It was great for me. I got to play a lot, think I played in some important situations sometimes and I was really happy with last year. It gave me a lot of confidence, a lot of experience too,” Rasmussen said. “So hopefully I can bring that into this year.”

Alexandre Fortin signs three-year deal with Blackhawks

Alexandre Fortin signs three-year deal with Blackhawks

After earning a couple of invites from the Blackhawks this offseason, Alexandre Fortin earned a contract on Sunday.

Fortin agreed to terms on a three-year contract with the Blackhawks, who had invited him to prospect and training camp. The 19-year-old, who was passed over in two NHL drafts, was hoping to latch onto the Blackhawks’ organization.

“You know, it’s a nice day for me. I’ve been working on that since I was young, so now it’s just Step 1 and I’m very excited for the future,” Fortin said following Sunday’s training camp sessions. “I have to thank the Chicago Blackhawks. It’s the first team that really believed in me. It’s awesome.”

Indeed, Fortin was just looking for a chance and he could get it here eventually.

“I think it’s a real plus,” Blackhawks assistant coach Mike Kitchen said. “I think he earned a contract. Right from the start, he stepped up and played. He’s been very consistent in every scrimmage. He’s been a threat to score out on the ice. I think he’s done a terrific job. He’s got to be very, very happy about the whole situation. It’s great for the organization: get a free agent who comes in and earns a three-year entry-level contract.”

[SHOP BLACKHAWKS: Get your Blackhawks gear right here]

The most likely scenario is he’ll head back to his Quebec Major Junior Hockey League team, the Rouyn-Noranda Huskies, after logging some training camp time with the Blackhawks. He could get into a preseason game, too. But the future definitely looks bright for Fortin.

“It’s, for sure, just Step 1. My real goal is to play pro,” Fortin said. “So I’ll keep learning, keep doing what coaches want, I’ll watch (the players) who I have to be like and keep working on that every day until my real dream comes true.”

Keith doing fine

Duncan Keith participated in one of the Blackhawks’ two practices again on Sunday, and Kitchen said Keith did just fine.

“The first day, Duncs, he got through the practice no problem. He didn’t have any issues. Talked to him the next day, the festival game day, and he said he was fine. Today was a little tougher day for defensemen, so we were asking a lot of them. There was a lot of 1-on-1, 2-on-1s, 2-on-2s. Duncs said after practice the forwards had it off and the D had the work day today. But he responded well afterwards,” Kitchen said. “He even asked if he could come out for the other practice, but we said no.”