Winter Classic Alumni Game: Blackhawks vs. Blues on CSN

Winter Classic Alumni Game: Blackhawks vs. Blues on CSN

Before the Blackhawks and Blues go head-to-head on Jan. 2 in the 2017 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic, alumni from both sides will collide at Busch Stadium in the annual Alumni Game.

Here's what you need to know:

How to watch:

— CSN will have you covered beginning at 1:30 p.m. (Live streaming will NOT be available). You can catch a re-air of the game at 7 p.m. on CSN+ (Channel finder here).

— FOX Sports Midwest’s Blues TV announcer John Kelly will handle the play-by-play duties alongside NHL Network's Mike Rupp, who will serve as the color analyst. CSN's Pat Boyle will provide in-game, rink side reporters and player interviews from the Blackhawks bench.

Who's playing?

Blackhawks roster: Adrian Aucoin, Murray Bannerman, Adam Burish, Kyle Calder, Daniel Carcillo, Jim Cummins, Eric Daze, Ben Eager, Reggie Kerr, Steve Konroyd, Dave Mackey, Jamal Mayers, Grant Mulvey, Troy Murray, Brian Noonan, Jack O’Callahan, Darren Pang, Steve Poapst, Reid Simpson, Brent Sopel, Jimmy Waite 

Blackhawks coaching staff: Tony Esposito, Cliff Koroll

Blues roster: Bruce Affleck, Martin Brodeur, Jeff Brown, Garth Butcher, Gino Cavallini, Paul Cavallini, Kelly Chase, Dallas Drake, Bernie Federko, Wayne Gretzky, Brett Hull, Barret Jackman, Mike Liut, Al MacInnis, Chris Mason, Scott Mellanby, Adam Oates, Larry Patey, Chris Pronger, Jamie Rivers, Bryce Salvador, Ed Staniowski, Peter Stastny, Keith Tkachuk, Pierre Turgeon, Terry Yake, Scott Young

Blues coaching staff: Red Berenson, Bob Plager, Brian Sutter, Gary Unger

A few storylines:

— The biggest name participating in the event is Wayne Gretzky, also known as "The Great One." He's the NHL's all-time leading scorer with 2,857 points. Gretzky's stint with the Blues was brief, playing in only 18 games during the 1995-96 campaign after being traded to St. Louis midseason by Los Angeles.

— CSN hockey analysts Steve Konroyd and Jamal Mayers will be among the former Blackhawks suiting up. Konroyd scored 10 goals and added 47 assists in 251 regular-season games with Chicago and helped the team reach the Conference Final against the Edmonton Oilers in 1989-90.

Mayers was drafted by the Blues in the fourth round (No. 89 overall) of the 1993 NHL Draft, and spent 10 seasons in St. Louis, but won a Stanley Cup with the Blackhawks in 2013. He compiled 17 points (six goals, 11 assists) in 100 regular-season games across two seasons with Chicago.

— Darren Pang currently serves as the color commentator for the Blues, and has been in that role since 2009. On Saturday though, he'll return to the other side of the rivalry. Pang signed with the Blackhawks as an undrafted free agent in August 1984, and broke through with Chicago four years later when he played in 45 games. He also set a franchise record with six assists during the 1987-88 season. To add some flavor to the game, Pang will be one of a handful of players that will be mic'd up throughout Saturday's alumni game.

Winter Classic information:

Throughout the 2017 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic on Jan. 2,'s "Blackhawks Talk" section will be presenting extensive coverage of all the surrounding festivities with up-to-the-minute reports from Pat Boyle (@CSNBoyle) and via’s Blackhawks Insider Tracey Myers (@TramyersCSN), along with comprehensive pre/post-game reports from Blackhawks digital reporter Charlie Roumeliotis (@CRoumeliotis). 

The game between the Blackhawks and Blues will be carried live on NBC with live opening faceoff coverage beginning at 12 p.m. CSN will provide complete post-game coverage details, highlights, interviews, and much more later that evening on SportsTalk Live at 5:30 p.m. and In the Loop at 6 p.m.

From a social media standpoint, fans are urged to follow the network’s Blackhawks Twitter account (@CSNBlackhawks) and the network’s primary Twitter home (@CSNChicago) for up-to-the-second gamedetails, clips, photos, and more. Plus, fans also get interactive during the game by utilizing the Twitter hashtag #HawksTalk.

Recapping breakout OHL season for Blackhawks top prospect Adam Boqvist

Recapping breakout OHL season for Blackhawks top prospect Adam Boqvist

The London Knights set high expectations for themselves going into the 2018-19 OHL campaign. They always do. Their roster is usually loaded with top NHL prospects and this season was no different.

After finishing No. 1 in the Western Conference with 99 points, the Knights looked poised to go on a deep run. They got off to a roaring start in the playoffs by sweeping the Windsor Spitfires (4-0) and kicked off the second round by winning three straight against the Guelph Storm. But then, for the first time all season, the Knights lost four in a row to squander a 3-0 series lead and were eliminated just like that. It was a disappointing finish for a team with Memorial Cup aspirations.

One of the bright spots of the postseason was Blackhawks prospect Adam Boqvist. He was tied for first among all skaters with 10 goals through two rounds; no other defenseman had more than six. And he finished with 13 points in 11 games for a points-per-game average of 1.18.

To summarize his season: Boqvist scored one goal in his first 15 games. From that point on, he finished with 29 goals and 60 points in 50 games, including playoffs. He became an offensive driving force.

It's unclear what his future holds, but with Evan Bouchard expected to turn pro and secure a full-time roster spot on the Edmonton Oilers next season, returning to London would put Boqvist in a position where he could be the No. 1 defenseman in all situations.

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Blackhawks 2018-19 season grades: Front office


Blackhawks 2018-19 season grades: Front office

If we're evaluating Stan Bowman's moves as a whole, we have to go back to July 1 when the 2018-19 season really started.

On that day, the Blackhawks announced three signings: Chris Kunitz (one year, $1 million), Brandon Manning (two years, $2.25 million cap hit) and Cam Ward (one year, $3 million). Not exactly splashy additions after missing the playoffs for the first time in 10 years — although, to be fair, it wasn't a great market to throw money around.

Eleven days later, the Blackhawks traded Marian Hossa and his $5.275 million cap hit to the Arizona Coyotes in a seven-player deal that included top-nine winger Vinnie Hinostroza. Bowman acknowledged after the trade that he tried exploring every possible avenue before surrendering that the financial flexibility became more valuable.

But the trade might've put the team in a better position going into free agency had it been executed before July 1. Because of all that, Bowman's grade isn't looking great so far.

Then we get into the actual regular season.

The biggest move Bowman made was the coaching change on Nov. 6 in going from future Hall of Famer Joel Quenneville to Jeremy Colliton, which was a controversial decision in and of itself, especially the timing of it.

“There’s no perfect way to do things," Bowman admitted. "I think we made the best of it at the time. It’s one of those things where you’ve just gotta get through it. I think he’s gonna benefit from not only having a training camp next year but also we had this whole long stretch of a season. ... We’ve got a lot more things we want to get to, and I think we did a good job of — it’s a good start, but I’m sure Jeremy will tell you that we want to be way better next year and we’re gonna push our players to be better. We’re gonna try to do things differently. It’s not just taking this exact same program and we’ll start that. We want to do different things as well and enhance our team. I think there’s reason for hope there.”

Where did Bowman start to earn high marks? The roster tinkering, beginning in late November.

Perhaps recognizing that Nick Schmaltz wasn't progressing the way the team would have liked in a contract season, Bowman dealt him for a potential future second-line center in Dylan Strome and replenished the top-nine forward they lost in Hinostroza with Brendan Perlini, who showed flashes down the stretch. That's turned out to be a win-win for both sides.

The trade that was very clearly one-sided is the one Bowman pulled off with Peter Chiarelli, who was later relieved of his GM duties with the Edmonton Oilers.

Not only did Bowman acquire rugged winger Drake Caggiula, who became such a valuable part of the Blackhawks' second-half turnaround because he was a perfect complement for Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews on the top line, but he unloaded the contract of Manning without having to retain salary or giving up an important piece of the roster. It essentially gave the Blackhawks an extra $2.25 million to work with this summer, which shouldn't go unnoticed when you look at how deep the 2019 free agent class is.

Bowman essentially undid the mistake he made and put the Blackhawks in an even better position going into this offseason by adding a useful player on top of it. So he certainly upped his overall grade.

Now it's time to spend the money he cleared in getting rid of the contracts of Hossa and Manning, and continue building around the current core.

"We're not going to bring the same group back," Bowman said. "That's clear. We don't do that really any year. There's changes to every team, even a team that ends up winning the Cup this year will have some different players. We're going to have some new players next year. What we're going to do is try to improve in the areas where our team needs some help and the way that looks isn't completely clear right now, but we have time over the next couple months to dive in and look at our team in greater detail and figure out how we're going to make that happen.

"There's obviously free agent signings, there's trades, there's growth from within. Those are the ways that your team improves from year to year and we're going to do that. So we're going to have some new players here next year for sure but we have a lot of players that are going to be back and I think a lot of the key guys who had good seasons they're coming back for sure, so we don't need across the board changes but we do need some new players."

Front office: B-

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