With the Cubs' somewhat-surprising (depending on who you ask) early postseason exit, and the Bears enjoying their bye week, all eyes in Chicagoland turned to the United Center this weekend.
The Blackhawks were back in town, opening at home against Auston Matthews, John Tavares and the new-look Toronto Maple Leafs. Elsewhere, the Cubs were wrapping up their end-of-year media rounds, and the Bulls continued preseason play. Here's a look back at the weekend that was in Chicago sports.
There was meaningful hockey at United Center this weekend, and the Blackhawks and Maple Leafs did not disappoint in Chicago's home opener. The Blackhawks fell in a high-scoring thriller, complete with OT drama and some on-ice beef. Before the puck dropped, the team honored the franchise's all-time leading scorer Stan Mikita, after he died in August. Despite the loss, Sunday marked the third time in three games that the Blackhawks have scored at least four goals. It's been a wild opening week for the 'Hawks, and we recapped what it all means via podcast.
The Bears were on a well-earned if not a little too early bye week, but it's the NFL so the news cycle never really stops. For instance, Akiem hicks was spared a one-game suspension for making contact with an official, but did get hit with a heavy fine. As their "second half" begins, though, there are a few things worth looking for. It was a big week for the Bears' linebackers, as Khalil Mack saw his Madden '19 rating join the exclusive 99 Club.
Things aren't great on the North Side right now! The Cubs' promising season ended with a whimper, and manager Joe Maddon faced more questions about his job security than he ever has during his tenure in Chicago. There were growing issues about his constant lineup shuffling, which Theo Epstein acknolwedged. Several Cubs players mentioned a lack of urgency in the clubhouse, too. It was an especially tough season for Kris Bryant, but both Bryant and the Cubs are confident that he'll bounce back in a big way next year.
Jabari Parker's return to Milwaukee didn't really go as planned. The forward went 1-12 in his first return since signing with the Bulls. On the South Side, does it make sense for the White Sox to go after someone like Nolan Arenado? He'll be a free agent in 2020 and though there are some questions to be answered about how he'd fit in their roster, you make it work for a talent like Arenado.