Patrick Kane, Vinnie Hinostroza help raise $139,437 for Special Olympics Chicago


Patrick Kane, Vinnie Hinostroza help raise $139,437 for Special Olympics Chicago

It's been months since there was a meaningful hockey game played in Chicago, but that changed Saturday when Patrick Kane and Vinnie Hinostroza teammed up to play in a charity game benefitting the Special Olympics Chicago.

And the turnout was a sight to see.

Nearly 1,700 fans packed the Fox Valley Ice Arena in Geneva to cheer on a diverse roster group consisting of current and former NHL players such as Ian Cole (Penguins), Jake McCabe (Sabres), Brandon Pirri (free agent), Garret Sparks (Maple Leafs), Ben Eager and Dan Carcillo, organizational prospects and coaches including Anthony Louis, Tommy Olczyk and Sheldon Brookbank, three USA women's gold medalists in Megan Bozek, Kendall Coyne and Alex Rigsby, and two USA Paralympic ice-sledge champions in Kevin McKee and Josh Pauls.

"Great cause, supporting the Special Olympics," Kane said. "When you meet these kids, they're hard not to cheer for. You become impressed with everyone that you meet. You meet these kids and they have so much passion, such a positive outlook on life, nothing can really get them down."

Said Hinostroza: "In these things, you don't really know how hard to go. The most important thing is everyone's having fun. It's a great turnout and a lot of money's being raised for a great cause."

Having a player of Kane's caliber, a three-time Stanley Cup winner and 2016 Hart Trophy recipient, headlining the first ever Chicago Hockey Charity Classic put together by Topher Scott, a former Chicago Steel hockey player and former player and assistant coach at Cornell University who has two brothers with special needs that are athletes, was crucial for what hopes to become an annual event.

"It's absolutely huge," Kevin Magnuson, the son of Blackhawks great Keith Magnuson and board president of Special Olympics Chicago, said of Kane. "He's always been a good person. He's just matured a lot. With him saying yes, he has become the complete package of what a Chicago athlete is all about and what a Chicago Blackhawk is all about. The fact that he supported us and our organization speaks volumes."

And the best news: A total of $139,437 was raised for the Special Olympics Chicago, shattering the goal of $100,000.

"No, I thought that was a really lofty goal," Magnuson admitted when asked whether he thought they'd reach their mark. "When you hear 100 grand, that's a lot of money and eight months ago when it's just a phone call, it's just so hard for me to wrap my head around it.

"People came together. That's Chicago, that's what we do here. We rally around each other, especially the Chicago hockey communities have always been tight. And then the growth the last 10 years with the Blackhawks success, here it is. You're seeing it first hand how much people love hockey."

Here are a few highlights from the event, and reaction from those who were a part of it:

Blackhawks Talk Podcast: Has the championship window closed?


Blackhawks Talk Podcast: Has the championship window closed?

On the latest Hawks Talk Podcast, Jonathan Toews sits down with Pat Boyle for a 1-on-1 interview. Toews weighs in on his season with Brandon Saad, whether he expects major changes this offseason and has the championship window closed?

Also, Adam Burish joins the podcast and plays the game: “Building block, not sure, or no thanks.” Burish runs down the Blackhawks forwards and predicts whether or not they have a future with the team.

Listen to the full episode at this link or in the embedded player below:

What should the Blackhawks do in goal next season?

What should the Blackhawks do in goal next season?

The last time the Blackhawks were in Winnipeg they exploded for three first-period goals en route to a 5-1 victory on Dec. 14.

The roles were reversed on Thursday.

It appeared the Blackhawks might be headed for another drubbing when Brandon Saad scored 11 seconds into the game and they were awarded an ensuing power play following a failed offside challenge by the home team, but the Jets killed it off then responded with five unanswered goals over the next 11:53 and didn't look back as Chicago lost 6-2.

Anton Forsberg was pulled for the sixth time in his 27th start this season after allowing three goals on six shots, while J-F Berube gave up two goals on his first five shots before stopping 27 straight. It was the 14th time the Blackhawks allowed five or more goals in a game this season, having done that only eight times last season.

Needless to say, it's been a roller coaster in goal as of late.

To make matters worse, the Blackhawks aren't as optimistic about Corey Crawford returning before the season ends and maybe that's for the better.

But there's a big question mark between the pipes when you factor in Crawford's health and the inconsistency from their backups, which has included Jeff Glass, Forsberg and Berube.

The Blackhawks weren't expecting Forsberg to be the next Scott Darling when they included him in the trade package involving Saad and Artemi Panarin this past offseason, but they were certainly hoping he would be around the league average in save percentage (.913).

Instead, it's slipped to .905, which ranks 43rd of 52 goaltenders that have started at least 20 games this season. That's also his 5-on-5 save percentage, which is 49th out of 52 among goalies with 800-plus minutes of ice time.

When it rains, it often pours with Forsberg in net and he hasn't shown signs of progression to prevent the bleeding from getting worse.

The backup goaltending position is more important than ever in this day and age, especially for the Blackhawks with Crawford likely going into next year having not faced a shot in game action in nine months.

For those reasons, it might be wise for the Blackhawks to strongly consider rolling with Berube as the No. 2 to at least start next season if an external option isn't the preferred direction.

It would allow Forsberg to fine-tune his mechanics, build his confidence and continue his overall development with the Rockford IceHogs in the American Hockey League, where he backstopped the Lake Erie Monsters to their first ever Calder Cup championship in Columbus Blue Jackets franchise history two years ago.

Berube and Forsberg are both under contract for the Blackhawks in 2018-19, and it's no secret there's a belief within the organization that Forsberg has a higher ceiling. He just hasn't been able to reach it yet in the NHL for whatever reason.

There are 11 games left, and it wouldn't be surprising to see Berube get more than half of those.

Yes, his save percentage is one percentage point below Forsberg's at .904. But three of his eight appearances have come in relief.

In his five starts, he has a .908 percentage; in his three relief appearances, it's at .893.

Berube deserves a longer look, one that could carry weight when determining next season's backup.