Blackhawks

Dempster says he never listened in on calls with the Dodgers

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Dempster says he never listened in on calls with the Dodgers

While the airwaves around Chicago were burning up the past few days about the Cubs' front office supposedly letting Ryan Dempster listen in on their talks with the Los Angeles Dodgers, the accusations started to fly that what the Cubs reportedly did was unethical and lacked integrity.

However, did anybody bother to ask Ryan Dempster exactly what happened and then put his version up against what Cubs GM Jed Hoyer says happened?

I called Dempster Monday and spoke with him at length about the events surrounding last Tuesdays trade deadline deal that sent him to the Texas Rangers for two minor leaguers. He was emphatic that at no time did he ever listen in on any conversation between the Cubs and Dodgers.

"I hung out in the Cubs offices playing Golden Tee in the break room and saying some goodbyes to people in the offices that I have known for as long as Ive been a Cub," Dempster said. "I also wanted to be accessible to Theo and Jed so that if a deal came up that they needed my approval on I would be easy to find. At no time did I ever listen in on any phone calls between the Cubs and any other team."

I also spoke with Cubs GM Jed Hoyer and he denies that Dempster listened in on any phone calls with the Dodgers or anyone else.

"We had Ryan in here so we could keep him apprised on the talks as they developed throughout the afternoon," Hoyer said. "With a firm deadline of 3:00 p.m., things were happening quickly and we wanted him to know all of the possibilities that were in play. At no time did Ryan ever listen in on any phone calls without someones knowledge. If that were true I would understand the Dodgers being upset but that wasnt the case as he never listened in on any calls."

Dempster did speak with Dodgers GM Ned Colletti and it was after that call that the decision to accept a trade to the Texas Rangers was made. The Dodgers' offer, according to multiple sources around baseball was not a strong one and after talking with Colletti it became obvious that a trade to Los Angeles was not going to happen.

"I got on the phone with Ned Colletti and we had a short conversation but it was obvious that a deal wasnt going to get done so I agreed to go to Texas, Dempster told me.

It is understandable how people may have thought that Dempster was listening in after hearing the comments of Theo Epstein after the trade deadline. Epstein relayed the story of Dempster being in the Cubs offices prior to the 3 p.m. deadline.

"We joked about it every day," Epstein told a group of beat reporters. "And in the end, once he came to our office and actually heard the conversations we were having with L.A., he realized: OK, maybe thats actually not going to happen.Let me consider a couple other places.

But I think it was helpful to have him there. He could hear firsthand that it probably wasnt going to happen. If someone really wants to go to a place, you can tell them over and over again its probably not going to happen. But unless theyre convinced of that, they may not want to move on to their second choice."

Four takeaways: Brandon Saad breaks out in strong bounce-back performance by Blackhawks

Four takeaways: Brandon Saad breaks out in strong bounce-back performance by Blackhawks

Here are four takeaways from the Blackhawks' 3-1 win over the Anaheim Ducks at the United Center on Tuesday:

1. Brandon Saad's breakout game

After turning in one of his best efforts of the season on Sunday against Tampa Bay, the Blackhawks rewarded Saad with a promotion to the top-six again. And he took advantage of that opportunity.

In the first period alone, Saad recorded four shots on goal, scored his first of the season on the power play, drew a penalty and had a takeaway in 7:42 of ice time, which led all forwards. He finished with nine shot attempts (a season-high seven on goal) and 18:56 of ice time.

On his power-play goal, Saad battled for position in front of the net, called for the puck and scored on his second effort. He did all the right things and got rewarded, including on the empty-netter that sealed the victory.

"I've had some chances, especially as of late," Saad said. "But it's definitely nice for them to get in and get a win on top of that."

Said coach Joel Quenneville: "He was excellent tonight. ... I thought he had great speed all over the ice, had the puck way more. We’re happy for him. Big factor in the win."

2. Erik Gustafsson's slap-pass becoming a thing

For the second time this season, Gustafsson contributed to a game-winning goal that involved a fake shot and slap-pass from the point. Patrick Kane was the recipient of the cross-ice pass and buried home the one-timer from the right faceoff circle

"I can’t score by myself, so it’s better to pass it," Gustafsson joked. "No, I know Kaner is out there. He’s always getting open when someone else has the puck so it’s easy to find him and there was one guy in front of me so I wanted to pass it."

3. Blackhawks cut down on high-danger chances

On Sunday against Tampa Bay, the Blackhawks allowed 25 high-danger chances at even strength. It put them at the very bottom of the league for most on average per game, ironically falling below Anaheim.

Through two periods on Tuesday, the Blackhawks allowed zero and only five at 5-on-5 for the entire game. Certainly a 180 from two nights ago, and an area they will continue to build upon.

"We just took away those quality chances," said Corey Crawford, who made 24 saves and picked up his first win at home since Dec. 17, 2017. "I don't think they really had too many where they had time in front of the net to really think about where they wanted to shoot and our guys were on the right away in the middle of the ice and that'll give you a great chance to win a hockey game."

4. Special teams battle

There were a total of 20 penalty minutes (10 for Anaheim, 10 for Chicago), which meant lots of power play opportunities and not as much even-strength time.

The Blackhawks had four of them in the first period, and converted on the second try when Saad scored his first of the season. The penalty killed went 4-for-4, allowing a combined eight combined shots on goal but limiting the quality chances.

Chris Sale labors in World Series opener for Red Sox

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USA TODAY

Chris Sale labors in World Series opener for Red Sox

When Chris Sale was with the White Sox, fans dreamed of seeing him headline a postseason playoff rotation.

That never materialized in his time with the White Sox, but Sale is headlining a World Series rotation for the Red Sox. The 29-year-old pitched Game 1 for the Red Sox against the Dodgers on Tuesday.

Sale didn't last long, making it into the fifth and getting pulled before recording an out. In those 4+ innings, Sale gave up three runs while striking out seven.

One of the key plays of the game featured Manny Machado getting an RBI single against Sale in the third inning to tie the game at 2-2. Machado later had an RBI groundout to again tie the game in the fifth before Boston regained the lead in the bottom half of that inning.

Was that a meeting of the White Sox past (Sale) against the White Sox future (Machado)? Machado will be a highly sought after free agent this winter and the White Sox have been connected to the former Orioles infielder since last offseason.

Game 1 featured a stellar pitching matchup of Sale against Clayton Kershaw, but it didn't materialize as it looked on paper. Sale labored while Kershaw gave up five runs in 4+ innings.

This postseason hasn't been a standout one for Sale. The lefty has a 4.40 ERA in 16 1/3 innings over four appearances (three starts and a relief appearance).

The longer Chris Sale is with the Red Sox, the less this will feel relevant to the White Sox, but it is still something to see the longtime White Sox ace on the mound starting a World Series opener.