Blackhawks

Dempster drawing interest from Red Sox

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Dempster drawing interest from Red Sox

While the White Sox are on the east coast to take on the Red Sox, members of Boston's front office may be focusing more on the other Chicago baseball team.

Source: The Red Sox are aggressive in the pursuit of Ryan Dempster. Cubs going through their process on the right-hander. Buster Olney (@Buster_ESPN) July 16, 2012

Dempster is one of the most coveted pieces on the trade market. He's currently in a stretch where he's thrown 33 straight scoreless innings, which have been sandwiched around a DL stint due to soreness in his lat muscle.

The veteran starter has drawn interest from a number of clubs around the league, most notably the Los Angeles Dodgers, who appeared to be the front-runner for Dempster's services before he landed on the disabled list last month.

The Red Sox may be a good fit for the Cubs as trading partners, since Theo Epstein knows the Boston system so well, as Olney states. He helped build up the pool of prospects, along with Jed Hoyer and Jason McLeod.

With Dempster currently leading the majors in ERA and only a couple weeks until the deadline, this may be the most opportune time for him to be dealt. His stock will likely never be higher and if he's dealt now, he would get at least an extra couple of starts with his new team rather than if he was dealt right before the deadline.

The Red Sox are familiar with Dempster's work. In his last start before hitting the DL, Dempster threw seven shutout innings against Boston at Wrigley Field. It was the only game of the series the Cubs won.

Niklas Hjalmarsson 'wasn't happy' about trade, but remembers time with Blackhawks fondly

Niklas Hjalmarsson 'wasn't happy' about trade, but remembers time with Blackhawks fondly

Apparently time doesn’t heal all wounds. 

Nearly a year and a half since being traded to the Coyotes, Niklas Hjalmarsson will return to the United Center ice on Thursday playing for the visiting team.  

“It’s going to be strange coming in as the away team and being in the other locker room,” said Hjalmarsson on Wednesday. “I bet it’s going to be a lot of emotions and mixed feelings.” 

This is also the first time Hjalmarsson has been back to the city of Chicago since he was traded, a city he called his “second home.” A home where he spent parts of 10 seasons, and never really planned on leaving.

“I wasn’t happy, to be honest with you,” said Hjalmarsson of the trade to Arizona. “I was shocked. It took me a couple days to actually realize I wasn’t going to play for the Hawks anymore.”

Including the playoffs, Hjalmarsson played 751 games in the Indian head sweater. Despite that and the team’s three Stanley Cup victories, the Blackhawks shipped him off to Arizona for Connor Murphy and Laurent Dauphin in June of 2017.

“You kind of let it go after a while,” he said. “Now I’m just hoping all the success for the guys over here too.”

Hjalmarsson was known for his toughness, repeatedly blocking shot after shot, giving up his body, while never missing a shift. He credits his long-time teammates — Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook — for a lot of his success and identity on the blue line.

“I couldn’t have had better role models coming into a team,” he said. “I’m very thankful to have played on the same team as those guys and created a lot of success together. We’re always going to be connected with the Cups that we’ve had.”

The third championship won by that defense-trio was on United Center ice against the Lightning in 2015, but that isn’t the memory that stands out most for Hjalmarsson.

“The first Cup is always going to be pretty special,” said the 31-year old. “Even just going to the conference final (in 2009), even when we lost against Detroit that year, the year before was great memories too. The first time for me going into the playoffs and playing deep.”

The tables have turned now for both Hjalmarsson and the Blackhawks. 

The Coyotes have yet to score an even-strength goal this season, while the Blackhawks have claimed eight of a possible 10 points thus far through five games and expect to have their starting goaltender back between the pipes. 

But you won’t hear any ill-will from Hjalmarsson, he’s still rooting for the Hawks.

“I always think that Chicago deserves to have a team in the playoffs,” he said. “It’s not that I wish them not to do well. It’s the total opposite. I want them to have continued success.”

Under Center Podcast: What will we learn about the Bears against the Patriots?

Under Center Podcast: What will we learn about the Bears against the Patriots?

On this week's Under Center podcast, JJ Stankevitz and John “Moon” Mullin look at how Bill Belichick and New England will attack Matt Nagy and the Bears on Sunday, and if Mitch Trubisky can get to the point where he can reliably lead a late-game scoring drive like Tom Brady is so good at doing.

You can listen to the whole thing here, or in the embedded player below: