Mullin on PFT Live: Is Lovie on the hot seat?

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Mullin on PFT Live: Is Lovie on the hot seat?

The turmoil of the last four games three of them losses have turned the Bears from one kind of national story into another, as Mike Florio and I went into Wednesday on Mikes ProFootballTalk Live!

He and I had talked about Lovie Smiths position on any hot seat back in training camp. Mike saw him vulnerable after the game-two loss at Green Bay, which gradually turned into thoughts of a possible extension when the Bears were 7-1, and now Smith is back in that what-if? discussion.

The issue may not entirely be whether the Bears make the playoffs for Smith to serve out the last year of his contract; it may be how that comes to be. Because for the Bears to fall out of the playoffs means they will have taken a bad loss somewhere in the next four games, on top of a very difficult rematch with the Packers.

As I mentioned to Mike, the stated reason for Jerry Angelos firing after last season was what President Ted Phillips said was a failure to close the talent gap with the Packers. If the Bears lose two in 2012 to Green Bay, that rationale could be in play again.

The subject of Brian Urlacher is also very much in play, obviously, and Mike was interested in the overall of 54 with this team. My analogy, as far as grasping his true value, was a Larry Bird or Magic Johnson type of player: someone who makes everyone else better. Thats what Urlacher does, why he is a favorite on the field and in the locker room, and why he will be a superb fit for Lovie Smith as long as the Bears are playing their version of the 4-3.

As I noted on Monday morning, the Bears have held concussed players Jay Cutler (twice), Devin Hester, Shea McClellin out of the game following their head injuries. If Earl Bennett practices at all this week, that will be news. Players simply do not return quickly from concussions, with the trend arrow pointing more that direction with the increasing awareness of the severity of that injury.

Mike was interested in the possible return of Hester this week, which is probable. But the bigger return for the offense right now might be Alshon Jeffery, who was doing some moving around last Sunday on his repaired right knee and would be a key addition to an offense struggling to get anything going in the pass game.

SportsTalk Live Podcast: Will Gar Forman's plan work?

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USA TODAY

SportsTalk Live Podcast: Will Gar Forman's plan work?

On the latest edition of the SportsTalk Live Podcast, David Kaplan is joined by Rick Telander (Chicago Sun-Times) and Mark Carman (WGN Radio) to talk Bulls. 

The panel breaks down the trade with Oklahoma City and question whether the team is better or worse now. 

Later, the guys talk about the Blackhawks' trade for Tomas Jurco and also break down the upcoming Daytona 500. Finally, Telander discusses his five-part series chronicling the Orr High School basketball team as they excel on the court and try to survive off it. 

Listen to the SportsTalk Live Podcast below. 

Blackhawks acquire Tomas Jurco from Red Wings

Blackhawks acquire Tomas Jurco from Red Wings

General manager Stan Bowman saw the potential in Tomas Jurco several years ago.

For the 24-year-old forward, it wasn’t working out with the Detroit Red Wings. Perhaps a change of scenery, an opportunity on a team that could vie for another Stanley Cup, makes a difference. The Blackhawks are about to find out.

The Blackhawks acquired Jurco for a third-round pick in this year’s draft on Friday afternoon. The 24-year-old Jurco has played in 16 games with the Red Wings this season but has yet to collect a point. In four seasons with the Wings, Jurco had 15 goals and 24 assists in 159 games. Red Wings general manager Ken Holland told Helene St. James of the Detroit Free Press that, “things haven’t worked out” for Jurco there and that he wanted to go elsewhere.

Jurco was on a bye as a member of the Red Wings but, now that he’s with the Blackhawks, the bye ends. Bowman was hopeful Jurco would join the Blackhawks at practice on Saturday. Also, to clear a roster spot for Jurco, the Blackhawks reassigned Vinnie Hinostroza to the Rockford IceHogs.

[RELATED: Nick Schmaltz gaining confidence, effectiveness with Blackhawks]

Bowman said he’s been watching Jurco for a few seasons now.

“We’ll be patient with him but we really think there’s a good fit there, looking at his skills and the style of hockey we play,” Bowman said. “He’s been an accomplished player at a lot of different levels. He’s shown flashes in the NHL, not as consistently as he or the Wings would like, but you can see the talent and potential. You have to have some patience with these guys. It doesn’t always come together right away. I’m not expecting him to carry our team but I think he can contribute.”

It was an under-the-radar trade for Bowman but that’s not surprising. In late January, Bowman said he probably wouldn’t do much at the trade deadline; he liked how the Blackhawks’ young players were progressing and figured, if that continued, the team would be in good shape. Since then the Blackhawks have won eight of their last nine and are just three points behind the Western Conference-leading Minnesota Wild. As the Blackhawks kept winning it looked like, if they did anything, it would be a depth move.

So will there be any more moves? At this point it doesn’t seem likely, be it on forward or defense – Bowman didn’t have an update on Niklas Hjalmarsson (upper body) but said he’s happy with the depth in Chicago and Rockford on defense. Bowman said he’ll keep talking but, “but it’s a little bit different than in previous years when I thought we definitely needed something and were lacking in an area.”

“I’ve had a feeling about our team, not just recently but even a month ago. I liked the way this group was starting to come together,” Bowman said. “We’ve seen that enhanced over the last couple of week here. We’ve seen players step up, [Nick] Schmaltz in particular. [Ryan] Hartman’s been good all year. We’ve seen Jonathan [Toews] become a dominant player again. It gives your team a confidence that you have balance, scoring in different lines. We just added a young player to help us now as well as in the future. There’s a lot to be excited about. I’m not expecting more trades. I can’t predict more will happen but I have a good feeling about this group right now.”