Sunday thoughts on 'The Lovie Puzzle'

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Sunday thoughts on 'The Lovie Puzzle'

DETROIT Coaches universally will say that they dont cut players; players cut players. To a certain extent, the same can be said about head coaches.

They, like the players, make the decisions for their bosses.

So a dismal Bears performance against the feckless Detroit Lions theoretically puts Lovie Smith squarely over the trap door with ownership and management. Missing the playoffs five of six years running makes a compelling case against his return for 2013.

But heres a better, sounder resolution:

Regardless of outcome in Detroit, Lovie Smith should be the Bears coach for 2013.

Consider:

After his opening year in 2004, Smith has never had a season with fewer than seven wins and only two of those in the past eight. That is a run not to be dismissed lightly. Mike Ditka had two of those (1989, 1992) in his final four.

Smith has one year remaining on his contract. There is NFL precedent for a coach, just like a player, going through his so-called lame duck year without an extension. Players wont play for him? Does anyone seriously think this team and its veterans would ever go that route with Smith?

Jay Cutler also is in a contract year for 2013. Cutler has shown less than Smith to spur the Bears toward a contract extension. Brian Urlacher played without a 2013 deal this season. So did Nick Roach. So did Henry Melton. And how did Matt Forte perform last season without an extension?

The overall is that the soundest strategy for GM Phil Emery, President Ted Phillips and Chairman George McCaskey is to let the 2013 season play out with the head coach, quarterback and even offensive coordinator (Mike Tice) in place.

If the group fails to effect a satisfactory turnaround, they wont have to blow the whole thing up. It blows itself up.

And a new head coach comes in with the prospect of picking his own quarterback. If the Bears have a terrible 2013, that draft choice will be high enough to make a move.

But to throw the franchise into freefall after a winning season, with a coach who has had just two losing seasons in the past eight just doesnt make real sense.

Today on CSN: White Sox face Athletics in spring training game

Today on CSN: White Sox face Athletics in spring training game

The White Sox will battle the Oakland Athletics today, and you can catch all the action on CSN. Coverage begins at 3:05 p.m.

Today's starting pitching matchup: Carlos Rodon vs. Kendall Graveman

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Latest on the White Sox: All of the most recent news and notes

 

Quick Hits from Blackhawks-Stars: Another slow start but better finish

Quick Hits from Blackhawks-Stars: Another slow start but better finish

It wasn't pretty, but the Blackhawks found a way to pick up another two points and improved to 6-0-1 over their last seven games, and 18-3-1 over their last 22.

With Minnesota's loss to Philadelphia, the Blackhawks have taken an eight-point lead for first in the Central Division and are only two points away from the Washington Capitals for home-ice advantage throughout the entire Stanley Cup playoffs.

Let's take a look at Quick Hits from the 3-2 shootout victory over the Dallas Stars on Thursday night:

What Worked: The finish and shootout. While the Blackhawks scored the game's first goal, it was another slow start by a team that has had a few of those over the last several outings and has preached working on turning in more of a complete effort. They recorded only 14 shots on goal in the first two periods, and it took more than six minutes after Patrick Kane's goal to record their next one.

But they finished on a positive note yet again, and went 2-for-3 in the shootout thanks to Kane and Artemi Panarin, who potted the game winner. Kane said after the game that he tried his move on Scott Darling during morning skate and it worked. So he went with it tonight in an effort to snap a mini shootout drought and he did.

What Didn't Work: Controlling the puck. The Blackhawks seemingly have the puck more than their opponent does almost every game, but it doesn't reflect in the shot department because they often look for the perfect pass or shot and fail to record one at all. They had 50 shot attempts with 26 of them on goal compared to the Stars' 64 attempts with 44 on goal. They know they must get better at that.

Star of the game: Corey Crawford. After allowing four goals on only 10 shots in Tuesday's overtime loss to Vancouver, the Blackhawks netminder bounced back in a huge way. He matched a season-high with 42 saves, and recorded his 30th win of the season.

He Said It: "He played amazing tonight. Reason we won the game. Hats off to him, he's done that a lot this year. For a goalie it's probably tough to show up every night, even the goals he let in last game you can't put all the blame on him, but he was outstanding tonight." — Kane on Crawford's performance

By the Numbers:

167 — Niklas Hjalmarsson blocked one shot in the win, and it was enough to set a new career high in that department, previously established during the 2010-11 campaign (166).

15 — Trevor van Riemsyk assisted on Marian Hossa's goal in the third period, giving him a career-high 15 points on the season in 50 games. He had 14 points in 82 games last year. He also extended his point streak to three games.

6 — With the victory, Crawford has earned at least 30 wins in six of his seven NHL seasons as a full-time starter. The only time he didn't reach that mark was during the lockout-shortened year in 2012-13 when he went 19-5-5.