Yes, Blackhawks fan’s it’s that time of a year, the kickoff to the 2015-16 NHL season. Before we go into a season preview, tonight is a big night for the Blackhawks. They welcome an original six team when the New York Rangers pay a visit to the UC. They will raise the Championship Banner, get their rings and we all will once again party like its 1999. However, once that banner is up it is back to business for the Blackhawks to defend as Stanley Cup Champions.

The Season Ahead

The Hawks have one of the most coveted groups of core players in the league. These six have had their names engraved on the Stanley Cup all three times. Any team in the NHL would jump at the chance to have any of these guys. Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane, Duncan Keith, Brent Seabrook, Marian Hossa and Niklas Hjalmarsson. If the Blackhawks have any chance of repeating these guys will need to stay healthy and all have solid seasons. We know these guys are physically tough, but they need to be more mentally tough this year, especially with the off-ice turmoil regarding Patrick Kane. The thought of him being yanked out of the lineup due to legal proceedings is something that I am sure is in the back of everyone’s mind.

The Blackhawks have to feel good with the 1-2 punch with their goaltenders Corey Crawford and Scott Darling. With two cup rings Crawford should finally be able to silence his critics. He is truly one of the best in the game. Darling just played 14 games last season, but his stellar 1.95 GAA and .936 save percentage shows he is capable of taking a larger workload to keep Crow healthy and ready for the postseason.

The Blackhawks have some new faces and for the champs to repeat these guys have some big shoes to fill with the salary cap situation sending Patrick Sharp, Brandon  Saad, etc. to new teams. Several new faces will play significant roles this season.  Trevor Daley, Artem Anisimov, Artemi Panarin, Viktor Tikhonov and Ryan Garbutt are the new kids on the block and the must know new names on the roster. This group needs to step up to any role coach Q asks them to play, Sharp and Saad, etc. were huge parts of last year’s cup run.


The question I keep getting, will the Blackhawks repeat? The diehard fan in me says yes, of course they will. The realist in me knows just how hard it is to repeat as champions. In the NHL the last time that happened was 1997-98 by the Detroit Red Wings. I am foolishly going to go with my heart and go out on a limb here and predict, that in fact the Blackhawks will repeat as Stanley Cup Champions. Place your bets in Vegas now! They will finish with 104 points, 3d in the Central and once again put an incredible cup run together in the post season. Can’t wait to watch this season unfold, Go Hawks!

Getty Images

As we embark on the first pre-season game tonight I find myself giddy with anticipation for Chicago basketball, but also a bit anxious because this is a now-or-never kind of season for our Bulls. Since 2011 we’ve been so close we could taste the NBA Finals; Derrick Rose was the MVP, Joakim Noah won defensive player of the Year in 2014, Jimmy Butler made his first All-Star team, and the Bulls picked up All-Star Pau Gasol, but for one reason or another (too many heart wrenching injuries to count) the Bulls have failed to get past Lebron James and whatever team he was playing on. So what makes this year different? Can the Bulls get past their Eastern Conference rival Lebron James and his elite Cleveland Cavaliers. I may just be another hopeless optimistic fan, but I think our guys can do it. Here are the three key ingredients to a successful Bulls season.

Staying Healthy:

Well, here I was thinking the Bulls were relatively healthy this season and then Derrick Rose went and broke his face during the first practice. Can we get that guy some bubble wrap already? Luckily, the left orbital fracture he suffered doesn’t require a year of rehab and DRose should be ready to start the regular season (phew!). Aside from Mike Dunleavy who is still recovering from off-season back surgery the Bulls should be as full-strength as they’ve seen in three years. Taj Gibson also had off-season surgery and won’t be starting in the first pre-season game, but he will be using October to ease back into things.

Staying healthy throughout the season is of utmost importance. The Bulls have quite the big man lineup with Joakim Noah, Pau Gasol, Gibson, and Mirotic all ready to play some minutes. With big men we can dominate the boards, but the bigger the guy the easier it is to get injured – they have more weight pounding down day after day. We know all too well what it’s like to get to the Eastern Conference finals and not have enough strength to defeat the opponent (who is generally the freakishly athletic James). A healthy Bulls team is the only way to win.

Offensive Mentality:

There’s a new coach in town, and he’s got offense on his mind. Fred Hoiberg is known for being an offensive strategist, a very handsome strategist that is, and this is a breath of fresh air for Bulls fans. Ex-Head Coach Tom Thibodeau was a defensive guru, but he burned out his starters forcing them to play ungodly amount of minutes and limiting opportunities for rookies to get playing time. Hoiberg is a different kind of coach and we’re thinking it’s just what the doctor ordered to compete with NBA sharpshooters this season.

Jimmy Butler’s MVP Season:

This off-season our boy Jimmy Buckets got PAID. We’re talking five-year $95 Million contract. Yup, not a bad days work Mr. Butler. After low-balling the rising All-Star in October of 2014, the Bulls front office came to their senses and showed Butler the money. NOW, we need Jimmy to have another incredible season and lead these Bulls to a title. It would be ideal if Butler could take his game to the next level, a little offensive-defensive combo.


It’s always easy to speculate as an eager fan, but October 27th will be the first real show of what our Bulls are working with this season. Preseason is just a teaser of what’s in store this year, but we’re READY watch our Bulls ball.


This past Saturday, I sat in the Hyatt McCormick Place Hotel lobby with two anxious fans who were about to fulfill some big dreams.  Angela Hasse, 18, of Mt. Prospect and Sean Caselton, 24, of Crystal Lake both won a “meet and greet” with Chicago Bears Right Tackle, Kyle Long, as well as tickets to Sunday’s game vs. the Oakland Raiders through Fanwish.

Fanwish is an app that allows every day people to have extraordinary experiences with their favorite athletes and celebrities – for free. By entering contests on the app, winners have the chance to meet their favorite players, attend sporting events, etc. Users can also purchase particular packages or opportunities if they would prefer a guaranteed experience.  Fanwish has already connected fans in Texas and California with their favorite athletes.  In fact, Dallas Cowboys Quarterback, Tony Romo recently partnered with the organization.  Due to its increasing popularity, Fanwish is looking to expand their reach to fans here in Chicago.

Displaying image1.JPG

Long (Center) with Caselton (L) and Hasse (R)

“Kyle Long tweeted about winning a meet and greet with him via a contest on Fanwish, so I entered,” said Caselton.  “I am a die-hard Bears fan and my Sunday mood is always based on the outcome of the game; to have the opportunity to meet my favorite player is awesome. I like Long because he’s a good player, he interacts with fans via social media and is good with the media.”

“I agree with all of that but it’s important to mention that he’s cute too,” chimed Hasse, who brought her mother with her to meet Kyle. Caselton brought a childhood friend.

Long arrived around 6 PM and met with the four fans in the lobby for a good 30 minutes. His casual and relaxed attitude made the group comfortable and they shared random tid-bits of information with him; Caselton grew up with a current offensive tackle for Green Bay and Hasse knows Sarah Trestman (former Bears coach, Marc Trestman’s daughter).

Displaying image2.JPG

Long chatting about social media trolls with the Fanwish contest winners

Caselton and Hasse also asked questions such as, “How much do you bench?” (More of a clean and jerk guy), “How do you handle social media trolls?” (Sometimes you talk some smack back to them and sometimes you just delete their comments) and “What are your pre-game rituals” (Throw the ball around a little bit/don’t really do any o-line drills and listen to some Waylon Jennings in the locker room to relax).  Long also signed memorabilia, snapped pics and even made time for a few Snapchat videos with the winners.

Long has made a name for himself in Chicago since being drafted first-round by the Bears in 2013; he’s a two-time Pro Bowler (2013, 2014) and named to PFWA’s All-Rookie team (2013).  He’s also the son of former NFL star and current FOX game day analyst, Howie Long and his brother Chris is currently a Defensive End for the St. Louis Rams.

To learn more about Fanwish and opportunities to win your own unique fan experience, visit their website.


The Chicago Cubs are in the Post Season for the first time in six years and if it weren’t for the local news and social media no one in Chicago would know.   I blame two factors:

  1. The Mayor:   Rahm claims to be a Cub Fan, even during his reelection campaign he promised a Cubs Championship ”Imagine the joy! The excitement! The economic boost to very specific neighborhoods in our great city,” said an unblinking Emanuel at a news conference this morning. “It’s important for voters to know that only I can make this happen.” Rahm Emanuel at a News Conference on March 11, 2015

But, where is his support? Why isn’t the antenna lighting on the Willis Tower and John Hancock Blue? Or even alternating Blue and Pink lighting #BreastCancerAwareness ? Why isn’t there a scheduled viewing party for the Wild Card Game by the City Park Districts? Surely, the city could bring out the screens from Movies in the Park? Chicago is forecasting  70+ degrees on Wednesday night!  And, Why don’t the Lions at the Art Institute have Cubs jersey’s on?  #LetsGo

  1. Chicago’s lack of appreciation for the game of Baseball:   Until Jackie Robinson West’s appearance at the Little League World Series Chicago barely acknowledged Baseball as a game which could bring the community together.  Baseball is not only a game where kids can strive to succeed on the Diamond, but a game kids can watch with their family and friends on a sunny day at the Ballpark.  Especially at a time when Chicago needs to come together to stop violence, the city should turn to Cubs Baseball.  Beyond the unique beauty of every Home Run at Wrigley Field, Chicago Baseball teaches fun long standing rivalries #HateTheCards.  Baseball, a game of math illustrates the simplicity and sophistication of statistics and regulations ranging from three strikes to fascinating batting algorithms.  And for adults, Baseball has the most attractive male and female fashion in all of sports, who doesn’t look good in a ball cap or Cubbie Blue?!?  Finally, at any age, nothing is more rewarding and joyful than watching a young Major League Baseball team come together over 162 games in a single season.

I’ll be in Pittsburgh rooting for the Cubs on Wednesday, so Bring it Chicago!!  #TurnOnTheBlue #FlytheW #GoCubs #WeAreGood

Jay Cutler

Sunday’s game proved to be the most exciting game yet as the Bears (1-3) finally looked alive on the field against the Raiders (2-2) at home.  The team avoided a ninth straight loss and stole a win from Oakland in the final seconds of the game when Kicker Robbie Gould kicked a 49 yard field-goal to seal the deal.

Before you head into the office, here’s some quick player highlights/stats from the game below:

  • Jay Cutler After being out with an hamstring injury, Jay Cutler started at Quarterback on Sunday.  I may or may not have cringed when he threw an interception late in the game (flashbacks to the Jay we all know and love), but he managed to regain composure and overall, he played well.  Cutler completed 28 for 43 passes for a total of 281 yards and threw 1 interception.
  • As for the rest of the offense, solid plays were made by Tight End, Martellus Bennett, Running Back Matt Forte and Wide Receiver Eddie Royal.  Oakland’s defense just couldn’t cover Bennett as he caught 11 passes for a total of 83 yards with one touchdown.  Forte had 91 yards rushing and 64 receiving; he now has over 8,000 career rushing yards. Royal also caught a touchdown on the game’s opening possession which set the tone for the first quarter.
  • Defensively, the Bears did a good job holding the Raiders to only 173 passing yards.  However, a couple of injuries make me nervous for next week’s game.  Safety Antrel Rolle left the game with an ankle injury and he did not return.  Note: Rolle hasn’t missed a game since 2009.

Does this win today make the Bears playoff material? Ha! Hardly. But it does prove that they’re identifying their strengths and weaknesses and things are starting to click with Fox as a coach.  The victory was good for the team and the fans; hopefully a few more of those are in our future this season (but I’m not holding my breath).

What’s Next:

Bears take on the Kansas City Chiefs (1-3) in Kansas at 12 PM CST on FOX. In the meantime, make sure to check out my post later today about two local fans who won a meet + greet with Bears Tackle Kyle Long via Fanwish. And as always, I’ll be back to recap the game next week!


As the regular season for Major League Baseball comes to a close this weekend, (thank god for the White Sox faithful), the race to the playoffs is still on.  In the American League (AL) picture, the Kansas City Royals have clinched the Central division title, the Toronto Blue Jays secured their playoff spot with the division title in the East and the New York Yankees have solidified the first wild card spot.  What’s still up for grabs is the Western division title and the second wild card spot.

Currently in the West you have the Texas Rangers, who guaranteed themselves a spot in the postseason last night with a win over the Los Angeles Angels.  The Angels, with that loss, were eliminated from the division race, but they, along with the Minnesota Twins, still have an outside shot at the second AL Wild Card spot.  The Rangers have all but locked down the division with a three game lead over the Houston Astros with three games to play, meaning Texas would have to lose all three of their games while the Astros would have to win out just to force a one-game playoff for the division crown.  Maybe this isn’t the most probable scenario, but as a fan, being able to watch that exciting tie-breaker is something I’m rooting for.

To this day, nothing beats the Chicago White Sox “Blackout” game of 2008 for the AL Central division title against the Minnesota Twins.  Prior to the game, the White Sox and the Twins ended their regular season with equal 88-74 records.  I was lucky enough to score a ticket to this game and it was the greatest baseball game I had ever seen.  There was an excitement in the air at the ball park that was electrifying! The game had excellent pitching by John Danks, who pitched into the 7th inning and a rock-solid closing performance by Bobby Jenks.  The White Sox fielding was amazing including an outstanding defensive play by Ken Griffey Jr. and A. J. Pierzynski teaming up to throw out Michael Cuddyer at home plate.  The White Sox went on to win the game 1-0 on the strength of a solo home run by Jim Thome in the 7th inning.

The reason it was call the “blackout” game was because the nearly 40,000 fans in attendance were encouraged to wear all black during the game to show their support for the team.  I was also told that it was called the blackout game because it was the only game being played in the MLB that night and the outfield MLB scoreboard was blacked out.

What made the blackout game more memorable than any other game in recent history was that White Sox fans were able to celebrate an amazing victory with the team they all loved at home.  As you may remember, the White Sox clinched both the Central Division and World Series Championships on the road three years prior, so for fans this was a time to celebrate with the team and boy did we celebrate with “high-fives” dance-offs in the stands and a big salute from the players.

With a few more regular season scenarios to be play out this weekend, we can rest soundly knowing that October baseball is upon us and baseball fans are in for an exciting post-season.

back to top