Bears

Fire sign Friedrich for 2013

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Fire sign Friedrich for 2013

The Fire hasnt finished work on its 2012 season yet, but the club already took its first big step towards preparing for 2013 on Wednesday with the signing of German defender Arne Friedrich.

Friedrich, 33, was the Fires Defender of the Year this season and made it clear in the waning days of the campaign that he wanted to play one more season in Bridgeview. He didnt have to do that. He undoubtedly would have had other options, but -- for whatever reason -- he didnt want to play across the pond again.

"This is what I told everybody in the past, before I came to America," Friedrich said after the Fire was eliminated from the Major League Soccer playoffs last week. "I would never again play in Europe.

He did plenty of that quite well in the past, as a member of Germanys third-place finishers in the 2006 and 2010 World Cup finals. He had 82 caps for Germany before playing his last match for Wolfsburg in his countrys Bundesliga.

Friedrich signed with the Fire on Mar. 7 and made 23 appearances in the 34 MLS regular season matches. His presence helped make Austin Berry, his central defender partner, a favorite for MLS Rookie of the Year. They were key players in helping the Fire limit opponents to 41 goals in 34 games. That tied the Fire for second-best defensively in the Eastern Conference.

Slowly but surely Javier Leon, the Fires president of soccer operations, will build a team for next season, but Friedrich is a good start. His signing might mean the departure of Cory Gibbs, who suffered a serious knee injury in the third game of the season and underwent surgery. He still isnt in full training, as his postseason workouts this week have been inside with a focus on fitness.

Leon, in a statement announcing Friedrichs re-signing, said "Building continuity at the center back position is a priority for 2013."

The quick re-signing of Friedrich was in sharp contrast to last season when another veteran, Mexican midfielder Pavel Pardo, didnt sign a new contract until January. Pardo, like Friedrich, was happy with his first season in MLS and made it clear he wanted to return for another season. The Fire wanted him, too. It just took longer for that to happen.

Friedrich sounds like hes planning to play just one more year, but thats always subject to change.

If this years back line of Friedrich, Berry, Jalil Anibaba and Gonzalo Segares remains intact, the Fire will be in good shape defensively for next season. The lineup in front of them might not resemble this years nearly as much, however.

The Fire needs an attacking, playmaking midfielder. The club did some winning after Sebastian Grazzini returned to Argentina after a midseason contract dispute but was never as good. Coach Frank Klopas did some lineup patching, but it didnt work in the last six matches when the Fire stumbled to a 1-4-1 finish (counting the season-ending 2-1 home loss to the Houston Dynamo in the Fires first postseason appearance since 2009).

Klopas will keep his players on hand for workouts through next Thursday, Nov. 15. Leon is also expected to make a visit from his offices in California as the offseason administrative work continues.

The Fire could lose a veteran or two in the MLS entry draft in early January and will add a player -- at least temporarily -- when the winner of the Dec. 14-15 open tryout in Bridgeview is chosen.

That player is guaranteed a week in the first phase of preseason training, expected to begin in Florida in mid-January. The MLS SuperDraft, on Jan. 17 in Indianapolis, will also bring some fresh talent to the camp.

Bears lose Ed Donatell as defensive coaching staff makeover continues

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USA TODAY

Bears lose Ed Donatell as defensive coaching staff makeover continues

Ed Donatell indeed will follow Vic Fangio to Denver, with the now-former Bears defensive backs coach signing on to be the Broncos’ defensive coordinator on Tuesday.

 

 

Donatell was Fangio’s defensive backs coach from 2011-2018 with the San Francisco 49ers and Bears, and in Chicago was credited with the All-Pro development of cornerback Kyle Fuller and safety Eddie Jackson. His contract with the Bears expired after the 2018 season, so the Bears were unable to block him from interviewing for the Broncos’ defensive coordinator gig.

 

As things stand on Tuesday, only one defensive assistant from 2018 will remain with the team: Defensive line coach Jay Rodgers. Outside linebackers coach Brandon Staley took the same position under Fangio in Denver, while inside linebackers coach Glenn Pires and assistant defensive backs coach/safeties coach Roy Anderson will not return, too:

 

 

These departures aren’t surprising given Fangio said last week he hoped to bring some of his assistants from Chicago to Denver, while newly-hired defensive coordinator Chuck Pagano likely will want to bring in some of his own coaches in the coming weeks.

 

The Chicago Tribune’s Brad Biggs reported the Bears may consider Rob Ryan, the son of Buddy Ryan and longtime defensive coach, to replace Staley as outside linebackers coach. Ryan and Pagano worked together when Ryan was the Oakland Raiders’ defensive coordinator in the mid-2000s, and he would come with at least one player endorsement:

 

 

Meanwhile, rumors have swirled since Pagano’s hiring last Friday that he could bring Ed Reed — the sure-fire Hall of Fame safety with whom Pagano worked at the University of Miami and with the Baltimore Ravens — in as an assistant. Reed and Pagano are coaching together in the NFLPA Collegiate Bowl this week in Los Angeles, with Pagano a head coach and Reed a defensive coordinator in the college showcase All-Star game.

 

Celebrating Blackhawks hat tricks on National Hat Day

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USA TODAY

Celebrating Blackhawks hat tricks on National Hat Day

It’s National Hat Day – no better time to celebrate hat tricks in Chicago Blackhawks history.

There have been a combined total of 283 of them (263 in regular season, 20 in playoffs) since the franchise started up in the 1926-27 season.

95 different players have had at least one – including Gary Suter whose only hat trick with the Blackhawks came April 24, 1994 – in a playoff game.

The first hat trick in Blackhawks history was by George Hay on Feb. 19, 1927 – the 32nd game in franchise history. It was his only hat trick with the Blackhawks.

The Golden Jet, Bobby Hull had the most with 30 (28 in regular season, two in playoffs). He also holds the franchise record with four hat tricks in a single season, which he pulled off twice – 1959-60 as well as 1965-66. Stan Mikita is next with 16 career hat tricks (all in regular season).

On January 31, 1963, both Bobby Hull AND Stan Mikita (the first of Stan’s career) recorded a Hat Trick… one of seven times (six regular season, one in playoffs) that multiple Blackhawks tallied a hat trick in the same game. A pair of Blackhawks brothers – Max and Doug Bentley – each had a hat trick on Feb. 26, 1947. The last time a pair of Blackhawks scored three goals each was March 9, 2003 – Steve Sullivan and Eric Daze.

Of the 276 games in Blackhawks history in which a Blackhawks player had a hat trick, the Blackhawks have won 233, lost 30 and tied 13, including 7-0 when multiple Blackhawks accomplish the feat.

The youngest player in Blackhawks history to record a hat trick is Jeremy Roenick (19 years, 340 days) on Dec. 23, 1989. The oldest player in Blackhawks history to record a hat trick was Kenny Wharram (35 years, 267 days) on March 26, 1969.

Patrick Sharp is the only Blackhawks player to collect a hat trick on his birthday (Dec. 27, 2013).

Two Blackhawks have had a hat trick in a season opener

Bobby Hull          Oct. 23, 1965

Brandon Saad    Oct. 5, 2017

Three times a Blackhawks player had a hat trick in consecutive games (including once in the playoffs)

Doug Bentley     March 28-30, 1944 (playoffs)

Stan Mikita         Dec. 4-5, 1965

Brian Noonan    Dec. 27-29, 1991 (he scored four in the second game)

Two Blackhawks had a hat trick in the Stanley Cup Final

Pit Martin            May 10, 1973 vs. Canadiens

Dirk Graham       June 1, 1992 vs. Penguins

Improbably, the Blackhawks lost both of these games.

Denis Savard has a franchise record three playoff hat tricks.

Bill Kendall’s hat trick on Dec. 17, 1933, were the first three goals of his NHL career.

Many Blackhawks have recorded a Hat Trick plus one (a four-goal game) but only one has had five. Grant Mulvey on Feb. 3, 1982.

How many hats have been thrown on the ice as a result of Blackhawks hat tricks? That we’ll never know, but hats off to all of the Blackhawks who, by scoring three or more goals in a game, have made this hat trick celebration necessary.

 

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