Fire

Shaw's energy, instincts fit well with Hawks

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Shaw's energy, instincts fit well with Hawks

When Andrew Shaw returned to the Blackhawks at the trade deadline, the Blackhawks made it clear what they wanted from him: a lot of energy and a good use of his hockey instincts.

Now as part of the Blackhawks checking line, Shaw has brought that.

Shaw has shown the game he had when he debuted with the Blackhawks, and hes fit right in on the checking line with Bryan Bickell and Dave Bolland. Shaws game isnt necessarily about goals. Its about angst, energy and driving hard to the tough areas. And on the checking line Shaw also has to be smart; coach Joel Quenneville appreciates Shaws hockey intelligence.

Shaw has good instincts on both sides of the puck, Quenneville said. Offensively sees and makes plays. But as hes grown, hell learn better how to play off guys, how to play in our own end and be comfortable with linemates.

The checking line was strong against the Los Angeles Kings on Sunday night and Shaws play earned him a shootout opportunity. Shaw, who had a team-high seven hits against the Kings, said it hasnt been too tough of an adjustment.

I always played kind of a defensive-minded game but I got away from it a bit, Shaw said. Im glad to be a part of that line. Its nice to play a lot of minutes and playing against top players in this league.

Still, theres a lot of defensive responsibility on that line and theres a learning curve. Bickell said Shaw has taken it all in well.

At the start defensively, he was running around a lot. I think the coaches sat him down and told him the role we need him for and the position he needs to be in. He learns quick, Bickell said. Sometimes less is more; just to have the defensive mind and check first and the offense will come.

Shaws gotten that, too, as he tallied his seventh goal of the season on Friday against the New York Rangers. Hes not here for his offense, but with Jonathan Toews out and the Blackhawks needing contributions from everyone, its welcomed.

The Blackhawks wanted Shaw to display that energetic, driven game when he came back at the trade deadline. As part of the checking line, he has.

Hes not a big guy but he acts like a big guy; he goes face-first into everything lately and has a lot of scars because he does that. Thats just the way he is, the drive he has, and thats what I like about him, Bickell said. Hes got the work ethic to play up here. Hes still young and he has a lot to learn, but he will.

Bastian Schweinsteiger finally sees the field in Fire preseason

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USA TODAY

Bastian Schweinsteiger finally sees the field in Fire preseason

Coach Veljko Paunovic still went with a second-choice lineup to start the Fire's preseason match against USL expansion team Nashville SC on Wednesday, but the second half featured the first preseason action for Bastian Schweinsteiger.

Schweinsteiger came on for the second half, along with Nemanja Nikolic, Johan Kappelhof and a few other Fire regulars. The German sat out the first four preseason games, but looked sharp in his 45 minutes.

One of the highlights was this smooth move between two defenders:

Schweinsteiger also had an impressive switch pass to set up a shot for second-round pick Diego Campos in the final minutes of the game. Campos drilled the shot on target, but was unable to beat the goalkeeper.

The team did not say Schweinsteiger was injured despite the repeated absences in matches. The Fire have dealt with injuries to Matt Polster, Luis Solignac, Daniel Johnson and rookie Grant Lillard this preseason. None of those four, along with Dax McCarty, played in the 0-0 draw.

The Fire next play Saturday at Orlando in a final match in Florida before returning to Chicago. The Fire also play Tulsa, the team's USL affiliate, at Toyota Park on March 3 before taking on Sporting Kansas City in the season opener on March 10.

There are 600,000 reasons you won't hear Gar, Pax or Hoiberg discuss losing

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AP

There are 600,000 reasons you won't hear Gar, Pax or Hoiberg discuss losing

The Bulls made headlines on Tuesday when VP John Paxson announced that David Nwaba, Cristiano Felicio and Cameron Payne would be entering the rotation, thus continuing the youth movement in Chicago.

On the surface the moves make sense. The 24-year-old Nwaba, the 25-year-old Felicio and the 23-year-old Cameron Payne will be replacing 28-year-old Justin Holiday, 29-year-old Robin Lopez and 25-year-old Jerian Grant. The Bulls want to see what they have in these younger players who haven't played much; they already know what they have in Lopez and Holiday, and Grant (like the other two) is under contract through next year.

OK, got that? Here's why they're making the move: they're sitting 8th in the NBA Lottery standings and really want to move into the top-5 to give themselves a chance at what should be a loaded front-end of the draft class. It's pretty obvious, and anyone who tells you otherwise is either named Gar Forman, John Paxson or Fred Hoiberg.

And here's why: On Wednesday Mavericks owner Mark Cuban was fined a whopping $600,000 by the NBA for comments he made on a podcast regarding tanking. The Mavericks are currently 18-40, the third worst record in the NBA. This comes a season after they finished 33-49, netting them the No. 9 pick that turned into talented point guard Dennis Smith Jr.

So when Cuban was asked about the best interests of his Dallas team, which touts young talent but clearly isn't headed for the postseason in 2018, he said this on the House Call with Dr. J Podcast:

"I'm probably not supposed to say this, but, like, I just had dinner with a bunch of our guys the other night, and here we are, you know, we weren't competing for the playoffs. I was like, 'Look, losing is our best option. [Commissioner] Adam [Silver] would hate hearing that, but I at least sat down and I explained it to them. And I explained what our plans were going to be this summer, that we're not going to tank again. This was, like, a year-and-a-half tanking, and that was too brutal for me. But being transparent, I think that's the key to being kind of a players owner and having stability."

Cuban isn't wrong, and the Mavericks sure as hell aren't the only team tanking. But to come right now and admit that losing is the team's best option wasn't, as Cuban predicted, going to sit well with the league office.

Commissioner Adam Silver sent out a memo with the fine that said Cuban's comments "which concerned his perspective on the team's competitive success this season" were "detrimental to the NBA."

So while the Bulls are going about their business in trying to lose as many games down the stretch as possible, don't expect anyone to admit it's the reason behind their personnel moves. There are 600,000 reasons why.