Ex-Blackhawk Viktor Stalberg relishing opportunity with Predators


Ex-Blackhawk Viktor Stalberg relishing opportunity with Predators

NASHVILLE – Viktor Stalberg remembers this time of year.

He didn’t experience it last season with the Nashville Predators, who got off to a rough start and never recovered after Pekka Rinne was out the early part of the season. But he’s back into it now, and how better to start than against the team with which he won a Stanley Cup.

“It’s pretty fun,” said Stalberg. “Obviously my last memory there is winning it, so it should be exciting. They’re obviously a great team and had success in the playoffs. I should be a tough matchup, but we’re excited about it.”

This year has had its ups and downs for Stalberg. He went through injuries and stints in the minors before returning to the Predators’ lineup in early March. He played in just 25 games with Nashville, recording two goals and eight assists. It’s the second consecutive tough season after signing a four-year, $12-million contract in the summer of 2013.

[MORE HAWKS: Kane ready, Vermette sitting in Game 1]

“Yeah, it’s been a tough year," Stalberg said. "I think you kind of try to stay with it as much as you can. But bad timing, injuries, all season long it seems like. Just couldn’t really catch a break. I played through it and found a way to get back in the lineup and obviously I’m here right now. At the end of the day it worked out and I’m in the lineup here when the playoffs start, so I’m excited about that.”

The Blackhawks enter this series sitting Antoine Vermette, a player they acquired at the deadline for a first-round pick and a defenseman (Klas Dahlbeck). Stalberg understands how that feels; he was scratched at the start of the Detroit series and again later in the postseason back in the spring of 2013.

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“Yeah, I think my situation was what it was. It was a game here or there. So at the end of the day I still felt like I was a big part of it. But it is tough,” Stalberg said. “You certainly don’t ever want to sit out… it’s a tough situation to be in, but you can’t make it about yourself. It’s about winning games and I think that’s what they’re looking to do. If Joel thinks that that’s their best lineup, that’s what he’s going to go with.”

Speaking of the Stanley Cup, where’s that ring he also received?

“I think it’s back in Sweden. But it’s in my safety deposit box there, I think,” he said. “I don’t really know, or keep it around. I think it’s a little too big to wear around town.”

When Mario Lemieux and Michael J. Fox owned part of Russian hockey team

When Mario Lemieux and Michael J. Fox owned part of Russian hockey team

In the early 90s, after the fall of the Soviet Union, a group of investors including two owners of the Pittsburgh Penguins, Mario Lemieux and Michael J. Fox took ownership of 50 percent of the then struggling Russian national hockey team.

"You can't really call it owning because it's the Russian government, but we basically stepped in and took over the financial interests of the central Red Army hockey team in Moscow, in Russia," Fox said on CNN's "Larry King Live" during a clip shown in director Gabe Polsky's new documentary, "Red Penguins".

"Red Penguins" is a more-than-worthy follow up to Polsky's well-received "Red Army" released in 2014.

His latest doc zeroes in on what happens when Pittsburgh Penguins owners Howard Baldwin and Tom Ruta, along with their other investors, try to save the once proud hockey club that had a previous relationship with the Soviet armed forces and name it the Russian Penguins.

"At the beginning, we didn't understand the risk. We didn't understand what the country was like and what have you," Ruta says early in the film. As the movie plays out, that statement becomes more and more true.

Marketing wiz Steven Warshaw, hired by Baldwin and Ruta and sent to Moscow, achieves success in coming up with promotions such as free beer nights to fill the Russian Penguins' arena. The success from the Americans' involvement in the team also attracted Disney's interest according to Warshaw.

Things go south when the Russian mafia gets involved. Not even Warshaw's comic relief in the film softens the destruction and violence done by the criminal organization as the partnership falls apart.

"Red Penguins" is available Tuesday on iTunes, Amazon, On Demand and all other video platforms.

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Blackhawks Talk Podcast: Hawks lose 6-3 to the Oilers in Game 2

Blackhawks Talk Podcast: Hawks lose 6-3 to the Oilers in Game 2

In Game 2 of the best-of-five series between the Blackhawks and Oilers, the good guys took a step back and lost 6-3. Host Pat Boyle is joined by Blackhawks analyst Steve Konroyd as they discuss the loss, the play of the Hawks, and what needs to change for the Blackhawks to win Game 3.

(1:00) - Connor McDavid had a great comeback game

(7:52) - Breaking down the play of Olli Määttä

(12:00) - Missed opportunities to score for the Hawks

(16:46) - Adjustments for the Hawks

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