Friday, May 28, 2010

Around the UC: Article Edition

Since Blackhawks news is literally non stop these days I'm splitting up Around the UC into articles, videos, and photos. So much to cover!

Make sure you go out and pick up a Suntimes today. There is a 16 page special on the Hawks.

A New Blackhawks TV Special will air at 6pm on NBC before game one!!

"No. 8. The kids.

Two absolutely critical Blackhawks are Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane. Toews is 22 and Kane is 21. Professional titles rarely rest on the efforts of stars so young, with the possible exception of women's golf.

To sum up, a guy with hardly any teeth is going against a goalie plucked from the discount table.

A team that once looked deader than drive-in movies is fighting against a team that last won a title in the first days of the John Kennedy administration.

There are key players barely beyond their teens, and the fans of two hard-core cities are ready to add their voices to home ice aura, not that it'll do any good.

Can the NBA Finals top all that?"

-Chicago Tribune: Patrick Sharp: Chicago Blackhawks forward relishes the renaissance

"On Dec. 7, 2005, history documents more than 15,000 bought tickets for a Blackhawks game. Attendance history may be as inflated as a parade balloon. This was also Patrick Sharp's first night with the club, and as he fruitlessly scanned thousands of seats in search of a face, he fairly wondered exactly what he had gotten into."

-Art Institute: Blackhawks and Lions and Bears, Oh My!

"A celebratory morning here at the Art Institute as our guardian lions were outfitted with Chicago Blackhawks helmets in honor of the team making the Stanley Cup finals. Chicago is a rabid sports town—Blackhawks! Cubs! White Sox! Bulls! Bears!—and the lions have been participating in this civic passion since 1985, when the Bears went to the Super Bowl."

-ESPNChicago: No reservations

Versteeg: "No reservations needed. We actually call on behalf of our PR guy a lot of times. It's pretty funny. He still doesn't know. Everyone around town knows his name, and he doesn't know them. We say, 'Hey, it's Tony Ommen from the Chicago Blackhawks. We have a couple players who want to come in today. Can you please take care of them?' You go right in and you're treated like no other." Niemi proves he can handle lots of shots

"After going the entire season, 39 appearances to be exact, without facing 40 shots in a single game, Niemi saw 45 shots in Games 1 and 46 in Game 3. He made 88 saves and allowed only three goals while winning both games."

"In the postseason, he's 12-4 with a 2.33 goals-against average, .921 save percentage and two shutouts. Both of his shutouts came after a loss in the first-round series against Nashville. Of his seven shutouts in the regular season, four came after a loss."

-Chicago Tribune: For finals, Blackhawks not taking favorite position

Sharp: "I don't think it changes much for anyone in here, because we still have to play four to seven games to figure it out. It doesn't matter who people on the outside are picking to win. Philadelphia deserves to be there, just like we do."

Coach Q: "The excitement going into that last series was in place, and the guys going into that first game, their focus and their concentration was exactly where you'd like it to be. And something we're stressing this week, the same type of approach we had going into San Jose." Rookie Niemi has Hawks on brink of Cup

Niemi: "One of my buddies from Finland said once that it's easier to play away from Finland because you don't get all the pressure or you're not watching all the news channels. Maybe it is a little bit to my advantage not feeling the history that way."

Niemi: "Way calmer, more patient and more confident. Even if we lose I want to be as confident so one loss doesn't take me down. But maybe I try not to be too fiery because my approach is whatever happens, I'll stay focused on the next puck."

-Redeye: Before the bandwagon: Our 2007 interview with rookie Patrick Kane

"When I met Patrick Kane in 2007, he was a pimply-faced teen who looked like he didn't belong in a kiddie pool, let alone on a professional hockey rink. How things have changed. Kane is all growed up now, a former rookie of the year, a video game cover boy and a major part of the core of a team that's four wins from winning the Stanley Cup."

"But here's the question: Did Kane know this was coming? Check out this story from almost three years ago in which Kane predicts that the last-place Hawks would turn things around, get the fans on board and make some noise. (He also talks about his one and only hockey fight and throwing fastballs. Funny stuff!)"

-Cbc: Flyers can upset Blackhawks: Cherry

Cherry: "They've never met anyone in the playoffs so far that plays like Philly, not that they're afraid or anything like that, but Richards takes no prisoners, they've never played a guy that hits like that, and [the Flyers] are a mean club. This is going to go on a lot longer than people think because on one side, Philly hasn't played anybody with the speed and talent [of the Blackhawks], but on the other side, Chicago has not played anybody that takes no prisoners like Philly. It's going to be interesting to see who survives."

Cherry: "It's a lot better than sometimes when you hear if Nashville had won and some other team like that, Columbus, they'd probably have committed suicide [at the NHL offices]," said Cherry. "But this is a dream for the National Hockey League. Philly, high profile, Chicago, they're just jumping for joy with Chicago, so they're happy with the way things are right now, couldn't have been better."

-NBCChicago: Vote for the Hottest Hockey Players

"When the Chicago Blackhawks take the ice against the Philadelphia Flyers in the Stanley Cup Finals it will be a battle of hockey skills. Until then, we're pitting their players in a battle of superficiality, and we need your help.

Take a look through our player matchups slideshow and decide for yourself: Who's Hotter. Vote early, and often. Right here!"

-SI: Finals nothing new for Pronger, Hossa

"Pronger and Hossa have found their way back to the finals again - Pronger for the third time in five years with his third different team. He was on a winner with the Anaheim Ducks in 2007 after losing as a member of the Edmonton Oilers the previous year."

"Hossa's trek is even more rare. He'll be playing in his third straight championship round with a different team. He's lost his last two, first with the Penguins in 2008 and then last year as a member of the Red Wings when they fell to Pittsburgh and Sidney Crosby." Byfuglien-Pronger a big matchup in more ways than one

Coach Q: "They'll probably see a lot of each other. They both play a little different game. It will be a great test. Prongs is a smart player. Buff is not going to be easy to play against."

Buff: "It's probably going to be one of the bigger ones. But for the most part, every series I've had a couple of guys that have been easy to work around. He's probably going to be the biggest problem out there. He's definitely got the experience and size. He's definitely smart. He's been around and knows how to handle situations." Rocky Wirtz, Ed Snider talk Cup Final on NHL Hour

Wirtz: "I promise you three good periods of hockey. The guys are all focused and we're going to give it the good old college try to win the Cup. We're excited and can't wait for Saturday."

Wirtz: "Embrace your fans and really work with them. Our players couldn't have been better. They're in the community. One of the big things they do is they live in the city. They are part of this vibrant city and it's terrific. They're around -- you can see them, you can touch them, you can feel them -- and they'll never stop and not sign an autograph. They're at other sporting events -- they had a Cubs game the other night and there were five or six players that were there on a beautiful evening in Wrigley Field. So just in general it's been very, very good."

-NYTimes: Blackhawks and Flyers Willing to Lose Teeth to Drink From Cup

"The Philadelphia Flyers and the Chicago Blackhawks have traveled vastly different routes to the Stanley Cup finals, which begin Saturday night in Chicago. The Flyers’ path has been a roller-coaster thrill ride, deep troughs of incompetence alternating with lofty peaks of achievement. The Blackhawks’ advance has been a regal procession." Mellower Madden becomes a voice of experience in Chicago

Madden:"You kind of put things in perspective when you have kids," Madden, father to Tyler, 10, and Reese, 7, told Thursday. "Having kids and getting a little older mellows you a little bit, and you understand what is important in life. Hockey is important, but it's not everything."

Kane: "You can say he's 37-years-old but it feels like he's one of the younger guys and that's one of the things we love about him. He's a veteran and he brings a lot of experience and input to the game, but all of us know you can't take the game too serious because it's just not healthy. You can be serious on the ice and in the room, but you have to do different things when you get away from it and that's one of the things I really learned from him."

-TSN: Blackhawks enjoying spotlight in the Windy City

"An exciting collection of young stars have captured the imagination of a hockey-mad city that believes the NHL's longest Stanley Cup drought is about to end at 49 years. While the franchise has been showing signs of a turnaround for a couple years, the interest has reached a new level with the NHL's championship series set to open at United Center on Saturday night."

-TSN: Chicago, Philly make it tough for visitors in Cup final

Peca: "The United Center is usually an intimidating place to play, but this is also a team that's two years removed from some dark days where you had 5,000 to 10,000 (in attendance). When you add an anthem singer that just inspires everyone in that building, it gets people up to play. It's just a different experience in terms of an intimidation factor."

-ESPNChicago: "Chelsea Dagger" an unlikely theme

"Fratelli envisioned "Chelsea Dagger" as "a rock 'n' roll gig in an old speakeasy or something like that." Not a song that has become a fixture in stadiums and arenas worldwide.

Lead singer Fratelli: "I still don't really understand why."

Fratelli: "It doesn't look like a sport for wimps, does it?"

Fratelli: "Given they're using that song, I do hope you win the playoffs. I've got to say that. They've obviously got good taste."

-Suntimes: The matchups, prediction to win Stanley Cup

"The Hawks may be faster and deeper than the Flyers up front, but taking advantage of that will be harder than it looks. Dave Bolland's checking line has bugged the heck out of opponents this postseason and also has shown it can score. Toews' top line of Dustin Byfuglien and Patrick Kane has been nearly unstoppable. They combined for five goals and 15 points in the four-game sweep of the San Jose Sharks in the Western Conference finals."

"The Hawks' top pairing of Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook were strong against the formidable Sharks in the conference finals. Joe Thornton and Dany Heatley -- both elite-level players -- were held scoreless in the series. Seven lost teeth couldn't hold back Keith, a Norris Trophy finalist as one of the league's best blue-liners this season, while Seabrook continues to impose his physical might on opponents."

"Antti Niemi entered the playoffs as the Hawks' biggest question mark. But there should be no questions about him now, especially after he had two 44-save efforts in the sweep of the Sharks. Niemi has handled the pressure well and said he hasn't been overwhelmed by all the attention."

-Chicago Tribune: Olympic gold and Stanley cup: They don't go together often

Seabrook: "It's a great feeling and a great milestone in my career to win the Olympic gold medal but this is the Stanley Cup. Growing up you always dream about winning a Stanley Cup, you don't necessarily dream about winning a gold medal. It was obviously an unbelievable experience and a great honor to win a gold medal and (now) I'm ready to win a Stanley Cup."

Keith: "That obviously would be pretty special to be able to that. I grew up as a kid wanting to win a Stanley Cup and hoist that up above your head. You watch that so many times as a kid (so) for me that would be bigger.

Toews: "I'll enjoy it if it happens. Either way I've been very fortunate to be part of some pretty cool things this year. You have to get lucky to be in a position like that. I'm just trying to play my game and do what I do as a player."

-The Province: B.C. boys on hallowed hockey ground

McLaughlin: “Duncan could win the Norris Trophy, too, and no one's ever won all three in the same year. There couldn't be a better guy to accomplish that.”

Keith's Dad: “For me I have to say the Stanley Cup, for my wife it's the Olympic gold medal. We're kind of split on that."

Keith's Dad on his son's teeth: “I'm a little bit of a cold-hearted guy and he skated off, so I wasn't worried sick, put it that way. Jean, that's her baby boy and she wasn't too happy, but she's got a competitive spirit in her as well and she was happy to see him back on the ice.”

Keith's dad on if he will come see a game: “If we find someone to look after the dog and the cat." Hawks and Flyers ready to get nasty in Final

Burish: "This is going to be my kind of hockey. They have a nasty team and they play on the edge. They play in your face. From their first-line guys to their fourth-line guys, every guy wants to get nasty so it's going to be fun for me and fun for people watching. There is going to be a lot of skill, but there is also going to be some big hits, some pushing and shoving, some nastiness. Let's go, let's do it."

Seabs: "It's part of hockey. Hey, the Vancouver series got nasty. Both teams can play that way, and we're playing for the Stanley Cup so we're going to do what we can to win."

Check back for Videos and photos!

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