Blackhawks

Report: Mike Reilly chooses to sign with Wild over Blackhawks

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Report: Mike Reilly chooses to sign with Wild over Blackhawks

Prized college free agent defenseman Mike Reilly has agreed to join the Minnesota Wild, according to Michael Russo of the Star Tribune. Reilly, originally drafted by the Blue Jackets in the fourth round of the 2011 NHL Draft, became a free agent on June 16 after he failed to reach an agreement with Columbus.

The Blackhawks were among the favorites to land the former University of Minnesota star, who is expected to sign a two-year, $1.85 million contract. 

[MORE: Blackhawks 2015-16 schedule released, Stanley Cup banner to be raised Oct. 7]

Reilly, a two-time Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year winner, reportedly met with 10 teams at the NHL Draft combine earlier this month, but ultimately decided to stick close to home. Reilly's father, Mike, is also a minority investor with the Wild's ownership group, which may have played an important role in his decision.

The Wild are a team looking to bolster their blue line, and Reilly likely has a better chance to jump in and make an early impact than he would in Chicago. But the Blackhawks certainly have some holes to fill on their defense too, so this doesn't help their case.

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The good news is, Reilly finalized his decision before the NHL Draft, which means the Blackhawks can officially plan their approach without some uncertainty. It also assures that prospects such as Stephen Johns and Ville Pokka in Rockford will have a legitimate chance to crack the big-league roster entering 2015-16.

While general manager Stan Bowman gets ready to add more talent and depth to the Blackhawks organization over the weekend, the roster competition for next year has already begun.

Blackhawks release statement following incident that happened during game vs. Capitals

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AP

Blackhawks release statement following incident that happened during game vs. Capitals

Four fans at the United Center were thrown out of Saturday's Blackhawks game for taunting Washington Capitals forward Devante Smith-Pelly with racist remarks.

Midway through the third period, Smith-Pelly, who is black, was in the penalty box when fans shouted "basketball, basketball, basketball" at him, the Washington Post reported.

Here is a GIF of Smith-Pelly's interaction with the fans:

After the game, the Blackhawks released this statement:

Capitals head coach Barry Trotz also had this to say about the incident:

Cue Chelsea Dagger: Blackhawks blow out Capitals to snap eight-game losing streak

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USA TODAY

Cue Chelsea Dagger: Blackhawks blow out Capitals to snap eight-game losing streak

Win one game.

That was Joel Quenneville’s message during the Blackhawks’ eight-game losing streak, which finally came to an end on Saturday night.

How about a 7-1 victory over the Washington Capitals on home ice for a streak-breaker? Now that’s more like it.

Prior to Saturday, the Blackhawks hadn’t recorded a win in February — or a win at the United Center since Jan. 12. 

Though the Blackhawks will likely miss the playoffs for the first time since Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane were rookies, a blowout win over the leaders of the Metropolitan Division Capitals had to have felt great.

"It’s a nice way to get over the hump," Toews said. "Sometimes you might just win a 2-1 game or just kind of grind it out, but it was nice for us to fill the net the way we did tonight."

Added Joel Quenneville, "Certainly feels 100 times better than coming in and trying to explain how we had a lead and were unable to sustain it. The complete 60 minutes, three periods the right way, more consistency in our game, way more pace than we’ve seen recently, composure with the puck, shooting around the net. It was fun but that’s one. Let’s see how we respond to this because there’s a lot of hockey left."

The Blackhawks are 25-26-8 with 58 points, and are 11 points out the final wild card spot, currently held by the Minnesota Wild.

Among the highlights:

— Seven different Blackhawks scored: Toews, Kane, Alex DeBrincat, Brandon Saad, Artem Anisimov, Nick Schmaltz, Ryan Hartman

— The Blackhawks are 74-6-4 in the regular season in which Kane and Toews both record a goal — and 41-0-0 in their last 41 games, according to NBC Sports Chicago stats guru Chris Kamka.

— Kane registered career assist No. 500, becoming the sixth Blackhawk with 500 or more. Kane is also the seventh U.S.-born player with 300-plus goals and 500-plus assists, joining Mike Modano, Keith Tkachuk, Jeremy Roenick, Pat LaFontaine, Joe Mullen and Phil Housley, according to Kamka.

"You think about the amount of great Americans that have played the game, how many players actually play hockey in the United States... Growing up all I wanted to do was play hockey," Kane said. "That means a lot, especially when you talk about American-born players."

— DeBrincat's 22nd goal of the season has him tied for the rookie-lead with Tampa Bay Lightning's Yanni Gourde. DeBrincat and Kane also lead the Blackhawks with 22 goals.