Hawks' interest in Brodeur shows concern with Crawford

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Hawks' interest in Brodeur shows concern with Crawford

The Chicago Blackhawks were one of several teams inquiring about future Hall-of-Fame goaltender Martin Brodeur when the free-agency period opened on Sunday. They have their goaltending concerns, obviously, after Corey Crawfords rocky sophomore season. You dont ask about any other goaltender and a 40-year-old goaltender, to boot if youre not a little worried about your situation.

But as Sunday night drew to a close, it appeared that Brodeurs test of the free-agency waters didnt make it out of the shallow end.

Darren Dreger of TSN.ca reported late Sunday that the Devils were offering Brodeur a two-year deal. Its a chance for Brodeur to finish his career as a Devil, and if he accepts the deal it would be a somewhat expected conclusion.

Which brings us back to the Blackhawks goaltending. I asked general manager Stan Bowman about Crawford when the GMs met briefly in New York during the Stanley Cup Finals. Did he believe Crawford could return to rookie-year glory this season?

Obviously, (his two seasons) were two polar opposites, Bowman said then. The year before, we don t make the playoffs without him. He played over 30 games in a row that year (regular season and playoffs) and I dont think he had a bad game in the 30. This year he just wasnt consistent. Now the question is, which one is the reality?

Ive said this a lot: Guys dont lose their ability over the summer. I dont think he lost the ability to play goalie. I think its a mental thing more than anything, Bowman continued. Your skills dont erode. Its not like hes an older guy; hes not injured. Those would all be concerns if he was 39 or had a big injury. Then you say, What happened to him? Its more the mental side.

Bowman said other goaltenders have gone through their early career struggles before rebounding. A good case in point is Mike Smith, who was an up-and-coming goaltender with Dallas, struggled for several years in Tampa Bay, then was the Phoenix Coyotes star last season.

Bowman said the Blackhawks are hoping Crawford relocates his game like others have.

Does it mean he will? Not necessarily. But chances are hell follow that trajectory, he said. Our goalie coach (Stephane Waite) will spend some time with him, prepare him, break down his season. There was a lot of work behind the scenes, but you still have to stop the puck. Were optimistic, though, that hes going to get it turned around.

Optimistic? Yes. Is it a certainty? Nothing ever is.

The Blackhawks need to be better around Crawford, particularly on defense. But ultimately, its about Crawford stopping the puck. And if the goalie situation remains the same heading into this season, Crawford has to conjure up the play of his rookie season.

Dwyane Wade's near-miss of a triple-double caused by friendly Felicio fire

Dwyane Wade's near-miss of a triple-double caused by friendly Felicio fire

In a season where the triple-double has become commonplace to the point of stat chasing in the effort to chase history, Dwyane Wade didn't mind snatching his own piece of turf.

In a game where teammate Jimmy Butler reached the feat for the first time this season, it would've been doubly satisfactory for Wade to achieve the fifth triple-double of his career.

One rebound away in the final seconds of the Bulls' 117-99 win over the Cleveland Cavaliers, the memo didn't reach Cristiano Felicio, who reached over Wade to grab a rebound, causing it to harmlessly fall out of bounds and ending Wade's chance at history.

After Wade finished with 20 points, 10 assists and nine rebounds in 34 minutes, he was asked if he "hated" Felicio for interrupting his moment.

"No hate. Just a strong dislike, though," said Wade with a wry smile. "You know how long it's been since I had a triple double? It's been a long time."

It's been six years, as his last triple-double came in the 2010-11 season with the Miami Heat, achieving the feat with a 22-point, 12-rebound and 10-assist performance against the then-Charlotte Bobcats on Feb. 4, 2011.

Even more than the statistical feat was Wade's variety, as he grabbed seven rebounds in the decisive third-quarter run that broke the game open, hitting Butler and Bobby Portis for long touchdown passes that would've had Jay Cutler or whichever quarterback the Cleveland Browns are banking on next fall, blushing.

Perhaps even more impressive was the fact it was on the second night of a back-to-back with the Bulls winning in overtime against the Phoenix Suns—a game where Wade turned it up late then threw it down over Alex Len in overtime.

"I think we just found our groove," Wade said. "We've had some injuries that have gone on but we're playing good basketball."

More pointedly, so is Wade, aided by him often finding Felicio for easy dunks on the pick and roll as they play second and fourth quarters together. 

Felicio was clearly bothered by his gaffe, which was made worse by the take-no-prisoners approach from Wade and Butler. When a member of foreign media approached him about an interview, Felicio said "you're not asking me about that last rebound, are you?"

Later in the evening, Felicio went to Twitter, posting "I did not know!!" in reference to Wade's night.

"I told him I didn't not even gonna act like I ain't mad at him. I'm very mad at him," said Wade with a laugh. "But he's all good. He said he didn't see me down there. So he took a shot at my height. It's cool. Jimmy had one. It would've been nice to have two triple doubles."

"I'm sure a stat would've came out that would've said, ‘Dwyane Wade and Jimmy Butler are the first duo to get a triple-double on a back-to-back since Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen', since they got every record around here."

He was close, although Jordan and Pippen didn't achieve their feat on a back-to-back but a random night in the 1988-89 season. Jordan scored 41 with 11 assists and 10 rebounds and Pippen had 15 with 12 assists and 10 rebounds in a 126-121 overtime win over the Los Angeles Clippers.

"We laugh about that often, but it's all good," Wade said. "I gotta work harder till I get another one one day."

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