Cubs

Blackhawks trade Patrick Sharp to Dallas Stars

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Blackhawks trade Patrick Sharp to Dallas Stars

Patrick Sharp was an integral part of the Blackhawks, a player the team acquired when it was still trying to find its new identity and years before it found its constant success.

Now he’s part of their glorious recent past.

The Blackhawks traded Sharp and defenseman Stephen Johns to the Dallas Stars in exchange for defenseman Trevor Daley and forward Ryan Garbutt. The move clears some cap space for the Blackhawks, who now have about $70.4 million committed to 21 players. Sharp has two years remaining on his contract, which carries a cap hit of $5.9 million per season. Johns is in the final year of a deal paying him $800,000. The Blackhawks take Daley’s contract (two more years at a cap hit of $3.3 million a season) and half of Garbutt’s ($900,000 cap hit each of the next two years). 

But this isn’t just what the Blackhawks lost money-wise with Sharp. While it’s no surprise he was dealt, Sharp and his contributions that led to three Stanley Cups in the past six seasons will be missed. His past season wasn’t his best — 16 goals and 27 assists in 68 games — but he’s nevertheless had a lot of great individual seasons. He recorded 34 goals in 2010-11 and 2013-14 (two goals shy of his career best 36 set in the 2007-08 season).

[MORE: Trevor van Riemsdyk signs two-year extension with Blackhawks]

General manager Stan Bowman had been working for some time to get a deal done.

“It’s difficult trying to find a trading partner. You have a need they have and a player they like and they have the cap space to do what you’re trying to do,” Bowman said. “There have been countless phone calls over the past three weeks, this one finally made sense.”

Bowman said he talked to Sharp on Friday.

“More so than anything, [I] just thanked him for everything he’s done of the organization over the years,” Bowman said via conference call. “We’ve been through a lot together. He came when our team wasn’t at the level it was at in recent years and he played a big part in getting us to that next level. It was a great ride alongside Patrick and I wished him well.”

Bowman was also not concerned about trading assets to the Stars, who are in the same division.

“It cuts both ways,” Bowman said. “Dallas is giving us two of theirs to play against their team. I don’t know if that’s something you can pay too much attention to. You have to do what’s best for your team and not be as fixated on what they’re doing. Does this make sense for your team?”

[NBC SPORTS SHOP: Get your Stanley Cup Champs gear!]

A message left with Sharp on Friday night was not immediately returned. Two days after winning the Cup, Sharp talked of his trying year, on and off the ice, and how the Blackhawks banded together to win again.

“I blocked out a lot of things out this year,” Sharp said on June 17. “I thought it was pretty unfair to hear some of the stuff I was hearing about myself and my teammates but that’s the kind of group we have: we stuck together and got it done.

“To win a third Stanley Cup in this city is something that I’ll always remember,” Sharp continued. “It’s pretty special. It’s a huge accomplishment.”

 

SportsTalk Live Podcast: Andre Dawson talks about his Cubs reunion

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USA TODAY

SportsTalk Live Podcast: Andre Dawson talks about his Cubs reunion

Carmen DeFalco (ESPN 1000) and Jordan Bernfield join Kap on the panel. Anthony Rizzo returns to the Cubs after an emotional weekend home while Tom Ricketts expects another World Series parade. Plus Hall of Famer Andre Dawson joins Kap to talk about his Cubs reunion and how the current crop unsigned free agents compares to his experiences with collusion. 

Strikeout machine Alec Hansen wants to be the best ... OK, one of the best

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AP

Strikeout machine Alec Hansen wants to be the best ... OK, one of the best

GLENDALE, Ariz. — On a day when Jose Abreu and Yoan Moncada took live batting practice for the first time this spring, off in the distance was a lanky White Sox prospect standing in the outfield grass.

But Alec Hansen was doing more than shagging flies. He was watching both hitters very closely.

“I was looking to see how much pop they had,” Hansen said of Abreu and Moncada. “I kind of look at that to see the difference in power between minor league ball and the major leagues. It’s nice to see it’s not a huge difference. That makes me feel a bit more comfortable.”

At 6-foot-8 — actually 6-foot-8-and-a-half, according to his spring training physical — Hansen is a big man with big plans for his baseball career. He might be quiet on the outside, but he has booming expectations for himself on the inside.

“I want to be the best,” Hansen said in an interview with NBC Sports Chicago.

The best? The very best?

That’s what Hansen aspires to become, though later in our conversation, he did dial back a notch, settling for becoming “one of the best.”

Either is fine with manager Ricky Renteria, who is overseeing these uber-confident White Sox prospects and accepts their lofty expectations.

“I think their mindset is where it’s supposed to be,” Renteria said. “None of these kids are concerned or consumed with the possibility of failure. Much more they’re consuming themselves with the understanding that they might hit some stumbling blocks, but they’re going to have a way to avoid overcoming them and push forward and be the best that they can be.”

In his first full season in the White Sox organization, Hansen led the minor leagues with 191 strikeouts. He’s proud of that accomplishment but admitted something: He’s not that impressed because he didn’t do it where it really matters — in the major leagues.

When you watch Hansen pitch, it’s easy to see that the talent is there. His coaches and teammates rave about his ability. With his enormous size and power arm, he is loaded with strengths.  

Though there is one weakness that Hansen acknowledges he needs to work on.

“Sometimes I have a tendency to think too much and worry. I think worrying is the worst thing that I do just because I want to be perfect,” Hansen said. “I think everyone wants to be perfect, some more than others, and I worry about things getting in the way of achieving perfection.”

To Hansen, that doesn’t mean throwing a perfect game. He actually takes it one step further.

He wants to strikeout every single hitter he faces.

“I love striking people out,” Hansen said. “Not having to rely on anyone else and just getting the job done myself and knowing that the hitter can’t get a hit off me. That’s a great feeling. That they can’t put it in play. Like a line drive out. That’s terrible.”

At some point, Hansen will have to lower these impossible expectations for himself. This is an imperfect game. There’s no place for nine-inning, 27-strikeout performances. Players end up in the Hall of Fame because they learn how to succeed with failure.

In the meantime, Hansen is here in big league camp watching and learning anything and everything.

“I’m a good observer. I listen. I don’t really talk too much. I’m a pretty quiet guy. I like to sit back and observe and see how these guys go about their business. Just trying to be at their level, hopefully one day surpass them.”

Surpass?

“It’s kind of hard to surpass some of these guys. I mean, they’re at the tip-top, like the pinnacle of the sport,” Hansen said. “I guess you could say, to get on that level and then be one of the best in the league.”

He might be on his way.