Chicago Blackhawks

Random News of the Day: Blood in the Water

Random News of the Day: Blood in the Water

Tuesday, July 13, 2010
12:50 PM

By Joe Collins
CSNChicago.com

I caught up with a group of friends a few days ago at the World's Largest Block Party in Chicago's West Loop. It's a Windy City midsummer tradition: spend 40, drink a few beverages, inhale a funnel cake or two, listen to a few bands and go home. And according to legend (or really savvy word-of-mouth marketing), singles are supposed to meet their soulmate at this street festival and then go on to get married at St. Patrick's Church -- the same church that happens to sponsor the fest. Isn't that nice? Most of the fest-hoppers in our group are in committed relationships anyway. I'm one of them. The "soulmate search" is a moot point. So the entertainment portion of the night usually revolves around people-watching. And let me tell you ... it is pure comedy. Cringing, trainwreck, pure comedy.

The World's Largest Block Party is eHarmony on steroids: too many people trying way too hard to make a positive impression on others (hey, I was also one of those people way back when). What's interesting is that you can spot the single people a mile away. They all stand together in groups, with their heads on a swivel like Charles Tillman dropping into a Cover-2 defense, planning to swarm Mr. or Ms. Right. By the time we saw the 1,000th girl with embalming-style makeup, choked on somebody's Axe Body Spray and heard the 1,000th "So, you come to this fest every year?" pickup line, we pretty much agreed that the people at the World's Largest Block Party -- and maybe the fest itself -- had jumped the shark.

(Note: I'm sure that most of you know what the term "Jump The Shark" means. It can be defined as, "the exact point when a person, place, thing or activity becomes uncool and loses all credibility and popularity and turns into a running joke." The term "Jump The Shark" came about from the TV sitcom "Happy Days", when Fonzie literally jumped over a shark in an episode. The show, arguably, had lost all credibility and was doomed from that point forward.)

LeBron James jumped the shark on Thursday. He tried too hard to make an impression and ended up looking ridiculous in the process. Miraculously, he jumped again over the weekend with Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade in that dry heave of a welcoming party. It was badly choreographed, mockable, tacky and reeked of Limburger. Seriously, the three of them walkingdancing on that catwalk looked like a bad Falco video.

But it's not the first time that an athlete has completely jumped the shark. When did your favorite athlete or hero jump the shark? Was it something they said? Something they did? Personobject that they dated? I came up with a short list of athletes that, at one point or another, have done something so completely ridiculous that they lost every shred of credibility. They went from being liked to hated ... or from liked to pitied. Or even tolerated to hatedpitied.

Such as:

Terrell Owens (doing situps in his driveway)
Roger Clemens (leaving the Red Soxthrowing a bat at Mike Piazza)
Barry Bonds (any press conference from 2003-2008)
Roberto Alomar (the spit)
Ryan Leaf (Day 1)
Shani Davis (any interview from the 2006 Olympics)
Tonya Harding (the planned attack on Nancy Kerrigan)
Dennis Rodman (anything from the first hair change to today)
Milton Bradley ("What else you got?")
Adam Morrison (crying on the court)
Ricky Williams ("finding himself")
Joe Namath (either the 1974 pantyhose ad or the "I wanna kiss you!" comment does it)
Fuzzy Zoeller (comments about Tiger Woods)
Chris Pronger (to me, it was any postgame interview during the 2010 Stanley Cup Final)
Brett Favre (every summer for the past several years)
Bobby Knight (I know ... not an athlete per se, but once you throw a chair, you qualify)
John Rocker (the New York comments)
Allen Iverson ("talking 'bout ... practice")
Ron Artest (applying for a job at Circuit City trumps the Palace Brawl incident for me)
Shaquille O'Neal (the movie "Kazaam")
Mike Tyson (pick a moment, any moment)
Carlos Zambrano (see: Mike Tyson)
Sammy Sosa (the corked bat)
Any athlete that has admitted using a performance-enhancing drug
Any athlete that has run afoul with the law more than once (hey ... we all make mistakes, right?)

And that's an extremely short list. I could have put down a Fortune 500 list of crazy if I had the time.

Unfortunately, because of the TMZ'ified world we live in, all a player has to do is breathe improperly and they get branded as "shark jumpers." It's the price that they pay for living in the spotlight. We love building people up and love tearing 'em down.

A lot of people say that Michael Jordan jumped the shark ... repeatedly. He switched from basketball to baseball ... and back, he joined the Wizards and surlied his way through a Hall of Fame speech. But the vast majority of sports fans still love Michael Jordan. And that's the beauty of sports. Unlike TV shows, athletes can jump the shark multiple times. We're all suckers. We pay big bucks to see them in person. We put up with their attempts at music. We buy their jerseys. They dump us a few times. Or many times. But we come back. We always do. Being a fan of a sports team usually outlasts anything. It's for life. And watching what happens post shark-jump is just as entertaining as what happened beforehand.

Makes me wonder if the waters around South Beach are shark infested.

Or something like that.

Joe Collins is an assignment desk editor for Comcast SportsNet and contributor to CSNChicago.com.

Five Things from Blackhawks-Blue Jackets: Shots and slashes

Five Things from Blackhawks-Blue Jackets: Shots and slashes

It’s preseason: you don’t need a lot of build-up. Let’s just delve right in, shall we?

1. Lots of shots, but…

The same Joonas Korpisalo that the Blackhawks’ youngsters scored five goals against on Tuesday was on top of his game on Saturday. The Blackhawks peppered him with 54 shots but only two got through, and the second was a 6-on-4 power-play goal in the final two minutes.

“I thought we could have gotten a little more traffic in front of him," Nick Schmaltz said. "I thought we were playing along the outside. I mean we had some great looks. He made some big saves. Some nights you get the bounces and some nights you don’t.”

2. Bérubé’s Blackhawks debut.

Jean-François Bérubé had a tough sequence early in the second period, when he gave up two goals in a 28-second span. This was against a Columbus team that didn’t send many of their top players. He also didn’t see a ton of action in this one; the Blue Jackets fired just 21 shots his way.

3. Growing pains.

Alex DeBrincat had his up and down moments on Saturday night. His turnover led to Columbus’ first goal, he took a slashing penalty and he fought the puck quite a bit. You still saw glimpses of that skill, though, especially with his quick release. Hey, he’s a 19-year-old guy getting his first taste of the NHL. Nights like this are going to happen.

“We all make mistakes,” coach Joel Quenneville said. “You gotta be safe in certain areas and you learn from that.”

4. Slash-o-meter.

Four more were called on Saturday night. Don’t be surprised if that number starts dwindling sooner rather than later, though, because the edict has apparently changed already. Sportsnet’s John Shannon reported earlier on Saturday that the league told officials to ease up on slashing and faceoff violations. But we all figure that’s going to happen once the regular season begins anyway, right?

5. Notre Dame bound.

The destination is familiar but the Blackhawks threw it into their second week of camp this season. It’ll be bonding time for the Blackhawks, who will send a smaller group for several practices there this week. Quenneville figures it’ll be a productive time. “We’ll get some bonding in, play golf together, have a nice outing, couple of road games and a nice campus.”

Nick Schmaltz's confidence, hold on second-line center, continues to grow

nick_schmaltz.jpg
USA TODAY

Nick Schmaltz's confidence, hold on second-line center, continues to grow

Nick Schmaltz seemed to be everywhere the puck was on Saturday night. Great pursuit of the puck, great passes to Patrick Kane or Alex DeBrincat and an all-around confidence that’s becoming more apparent by the game.

So has coach Joel Quenneville seen what he’s needed to from Schmaltz at second-line center?

“And more.”

It’s been a pretty impressive showing for Schmaltz this month. The 21-year-old has played in all three of the Blackhawks’ preseason games and keeps getting better in each one. The uncertainty Schmaltz understandably showed as a rookie is gone; the NHL game no longer feels uncomfortable.

“I feel like the game’s slowing down for me, just seeing plays,” Schmaltz said. “I know what I’m doing with the puck before I get it. It feels good and just trying to get better every day.”

Schmaltz and his fellow second liners didn’t connect for goals in the Blackhawks 3-2 loss to the Columbus Blue Jackets on Saturday but it wasn’t for lack of trying. The three combined for 12 of the Blackhawks’ 54 shots on goal – Kane and DeBrincat each had five – and the chemistry continues to build between the three.

Jonathan Toews talked on Saturday morning of how much more relaxed Schmaltz looks with the puck now, and that was evident again later that night.

“He’s really starting to get comfortable physically at this level,” Toews said. “He thinks the game so well, puts himself in good spots, much like Kaner where he can skate with the puck and use his speed. He has his head up so he backs guys off. Those two were making great plays tonight and Brinksy was fitting in well. They couldn’t buy a goal but Schmaltzy’s getting better and better, and you’re’ seeing that calm poise that he has really come out the more he gets comfortable.”

Schmaltz was likely getting a second-line audition in some capacity this fall; the original thought was at left wing in the wake of Artemi Panarin’s trade. But Schmaltz has always felt at his best at center. He’s showing that. And more.

“It’s always fun to play no matter if it’s preseason or regular season," he said. "I’m always happy to play, especially when you’re playing with great players. I feel like I’m more comfortable in the middle, able to use my speed a little bit more, create more offense that way.

"I think it’s going well. Wherever I end up, I’ll be happy.”