Cubs

Blackhawks breakdown: Patrick Kane

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Blackhawks breakdown: Patrick Kane

Patrick Kane played in all 82 games and averaged 20 minutes and 12 seconds per game in 2011-12. He scored 23 goals and had 43 assists for 66 points and finished plus-7. Four of his goals and eight assists came on the power play and five goals were game winners. In the playoffs, Kane failed to score a goal in six games while picking up four assists and finishing plus-1.

Boden's take: We won't go into any long dissertation here about Cinco de Mayo weekend and how upset management was about having to see stuff like that all over again. The bottom line is this: he had the worst statistical season of his career. Yes, it probably took the first several weeks to get his surgically-repaired wrist up to speed. Yes, he got shuffled back and forth between center and wing. And yes, he came through when he was needed most -- down the stretch with his buddy sidelined, helping fill the huge hole the absence of Jonathan Toews left. And even though he was kept off the scoresheet, I don't believe he had a bad playoff series against Phoenix. But like most of the rest of the team, he fell short of "good."

Myers' take: You could imagine our surprise late in the preseason, when coach Joel Quenneville announced in Detroit that Kane may start the season at center. Our guess is Kane was surprised to hear it, too. And while it wasnt his natural position, Kane played very well in that spot and gave the Blackhawks a great 1-2 punch with Marian Hossa on his right side. Kane didnt have the point totals he wouldve liked but he handled the center job well. He also performed admirably down the stretch, becoming the impromptu team leader when the captain was sidelined for nearly two months with a concussion. But then there was his very quiet postseason -- and then his not-so-quiet start to the offseason.

2012-13 Expectations

Boden: His best NHL season came during the Stanley Cup campaign. He and the other stars benefited from that team's outstanding depth. But No. 1 overall picks have to find a way to be more productive than what he provided last year. That need will be even more challenging if his bosses stick to their playoff post-mortem plan to have him become the second-line center. Personally, I'm not a believer that's how he'll be most productive, but I'm always reminded by Steve Konroyd how much Kane loves challenges. If he can parlay what he did in the last six weeks over six months, it'll be a success. His numbers have gone down the last two seasons, anyway. And if I think I know him, Kane's probably laying low, and working hard the rest of the summer to try to prove something next season. The Hawks need him to.

Myers: The Blackhawks want Kanes focus to be on hockey; and during last season, it was. But Kane had another inauspicious start to another summer, and those off-ice stories are now overshadowing anything hes been doing on the ice. Does Kane have a problem and does he need to get help for it? Both of those can only be answered by Kane, and if he doesnt think the former hes not going to seek the latter. For now, the Blackhawks will probably stick with him, but everything has its limit. Theres no doubting Kane is truly a talented player. But its up to him to realize how great of a career he could have and to make sure he doesnt fritter it away.
How do you feel about this evaluation? As always, be sure to chime in with your thoughts by commenting below and check out the video breakdown of Kane above.

Addison Russell is so over 2017: 'That's last year, don't want to talk about that'

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USA TODAY

Addison Russell is so over 2017: 'That's last year, don't want to talk about that'

MESA, Ariz. — “That’s last year, don’t want to talk about that.”

In other words, Addison Russell is so over 2017.

The Cubs shortstop went through a lot last year. He dealt with injuries that affected his foot and shoulder. He had a well-documented off-the-field issue involving an accusation of domestic abuse, which sparked an investigation by Major League Baseball. And then came the trade speculation.

The hot stove season rarely leaves any player completely out of online trade discussion. But after Theo Epstein admitted there was a possibility the Cubs could trade away one or more young position players to bolster the starting rotation, well, Russell’s name came up.

And he saw it.

“There was a lot of trade talk,” Russell said Saturday. “My initial thoughts were, I hope it doesn’t happen, but wherever I go, I’m going to try to bring what I bring to the table here. It’s a good thing that it doesn’t have to be that way. I’m happy being in a Cubs uniform, I want to be in a Cubs uniform, for sure. But there was some talk out there. If I got traded, then I got traded, but that’s not the case.”

No, it’s not, as the Cubs solved those pitching questions with free-agent spending, bringing in Yu Darvish and Tyler Chatwood to replace the departed Jake Arrieta and John Lackey. It means Russell, along with oft-discussed names like Kyle Schwarber, Ian Happ and Javy Baez, are all still Cubs.

While the outside world might have expected one of those guys to be moved in some sort of blockbuster trade for Chris Archer or some other All-Star arm, the Cubs’ young core remains intact, another reason why they’re as much a favorite to win the World Series as any team out there.

“I’m really not surprised. The core is still here. Who would want to break that up? It’s a beautiful thing,” Russell said. “Javy and I in the middle. Schwarber, sometimes playing catcher but mainly outfield. And then (Kris Bryant) over there in the hot corner, and of course (Anthony) Rizzo at first. You’ve got a Gold Glover in right field (Jason Heyward). It’s really hard to break that up.

“When you do break that down on paper, we’ve got a lineup that could stack up with the best.”

This winter has been about moving on for Russell, who said he’s spent months working to strengthen his foot and shoulder after they limited him to 110 games last season, the fewest he played in his first three big league campaigns.

And so for Russell, the formula for returning to his 2016 levels of offensive aptitude isn’t a difficult one: stay on the field.

“Especially with the injuries, I definitely wanted to showcase some more of my talent last year than I displayed,” Russell said. “So going into this year, it’s mainly just keeping a good mental — just staying level headed. And also staying healthy and producing and being out there on the field.

“Next step for me, really just staying out there on the field. I really want to see what I can do as far as helping the team if I can stay healthy for a full season. I think if I just stay out there on the field, I’m going to produce.”

While the decrease in being on the field meant lower numbers from a “counting” standpoint — the drop from 21 homers in 2016 to 12 last year, the drop from 95 RBIs to 43 can in part be attributed to the lower number of games — certain rate stats looked different, too. His on-base percentage dropped from .321 in 2016 to .304 last year.

Russell also struggled during the postseason, picking up just six hits in 36 plate appearances in series against the Washington Nationals and Los Angeles Dodgers. He struck out 13 times in 10 postseason games.

Of course, he wasn’t alone. That World Series hangover was team-wide throughout the first half of the season. And even though the Cubs scored 824 runs during the regular season, the second most in the National League and the fourth most in baseball, plenty of guys had their offensive struggles: Schwarber, Heyward and Ben Zobrist, to name a few.

“You can’t take anything for granted. So whenever you win a World Series or you do something good, you just have to live in the moment,” Russell said. “It was a tough season last year because we were coming off winning the World Series and the World Series hangover and all that. This year, we had a couple months off, a couple extra weeks off, and I think a lot of guys took advantage of that. I know I did. And now that we’re here in spring training, we’re going to get back at it.”

Five top-25 matchups highlight loaded episode of High School Lites

Five top-25 matchups highlight loaded episode of High School Lites

High School Lites had five matchups between top-25 teams on Friday night as the Public League Playoff semifinals and big matchups in the CSL South, Catholic League Blue and SouthWest Suburban Blue took shape.

Be sure to follow us on Twitter @NBCSPreps for the latest news and scores for IHSA basketball.

Wintrust Athlete of the Week: Palatine's Eduardo Orozco

Saint Xavier Team of the Week: Maine West girls basketball

Highlights

No. 1 Simeon holds off No. 4 Whitney Young

No. 2 Orr gets revenge on No. 3 Curie

No. 9 New Trier takes down No. 6 Evanston

No. 8 Fenwick handles No. 10 Loyola Academy

No. 23 Homewood-Flossmoor rallies past No. 18 Bolingbrook

Oswego East upsets No. 20 Joliet Central

Andrew shuts down Thornridge

Sandburg tops Lockport in OT

Richards runs by Shepard

Maine West captures second straight girls basketball regional title