Cubs

Grading all of Stan Bowman's 2011-12 trades

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Grading all of Stan Bowman's 2011-12 trades

Blackhawks general manager Stan Bowman has a relatively active year of wheeling and dealing both before the 2011-12 season and during it. But quantity doesn't necessarily translate into quality. Tab Bamford at Yardbarker.com analyzed and graded each of Bowman's trades. So, how did he perform?

Trade No. 1: Blackhawks trade Troy Brouwer to the Washington Capitals for a 1st-round pick (No. 26 - Philip Danault). Bamford's grade: C

Trade No. 2: While a few days lapsed in between the deals, Bamford combines them as the Blackhawks sent Tomas Kopecky to the Florida Panthers after obtaining the rights to defenseman Steve Montador from the Buffalo Sabres. Bamford's grade: B

Trade No. 3: Blackhawks deal Brian Campbell to the Florida Panthers for Rostislav Olesz. Bamford's grade: F

Trade No. 4: Blackhawks acquire center Brendan Morrison from the Calgary Flames in exchange for defenseman Brian Connelly. Bamford's grade: B

Trade No. 5: At the trade deadline, the Blackhawks send a 2nd and 3rd-round draft pick in 2013 to the Winnipeg Jets for defenseman Johnny Oduya. Bamford's grade: B

You can check out Bamford's complete, in-depth analysis of each trade and the reasoning for each grade by clicking here.

Cubs' 10 worst free agent signings of all-time

Cubs' 10 worst free agent signings of all-time

Earlier this week, I named the 10 best free agent signings in Cubs history. But for all the good free agent additions the Cubs have made, they've made a fair share of not-so-good ones also.

From the obvious to not-so-obvious, here's my crack at naming the 10 worst free agents signings in Cubs history.

Cubs' 10 worst free agent signings of all-time

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2010 Hawks Rewind: 3 things we noticed in Blackhawks' Game 3 win over Canucks

2010 Hawks Rewind: 3 things we noticed in Blackhawks' Game 3 win over Canucks

In honor of the 10-year anniversary of the 2010 Stanley Cup team, NBC Sports Chicago is re-airing each of the Blackhawks' 16 postseason wins from the run that ended a 49-year championship drought. You can join the conversation using #HawksRewind on social media.

After bouncing back with a 4-2 in Game 2, the Blackhawks regained home-ice advantage by routing the Canucks 5-2 in Game 3 to take a 2-1 series lead in the Western Conference semifinals. Here are three things we noticed in the win:

1. Dustin Byfuglien's coming out party

One of the greatest coaching decisions of Joel Quenneville's illustrious career is moving Byfuglien from defense to forward in the middle of the Blackhawks' Stanley Cup run. In a recent sit-down interview with NBC Sports Chicago, Quenneville sheepishly admitted he can't take all the credit for that because different coaches experimented with Byfuglien at forward while he was working his way to the pros.

But it was certainly a playoff-changing moment.

After going pointless in his first eight postseason contests, Byfuglien netted a hat trick while playing on a line with Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews and was an absolute pest as the net-front guy on the first power-play unit. He finished with six shots on goal and a game-high six hits in 15:53 of ice time.

"He is a handful in front of the net or for goalies," Quenneville said. "He brought that element, that versatility, you could use him in either situation and of course in the middle of the game, so I think he brought a unique aspect to our team."

2. Lack of discipline

In the playoffs, officials tend to swallow their whistles and let the players play. But this game was not one of them.

In the first period alone, the Blackhawks and Canucks combined for eight minor penalties; each team was penalized four times. Hooking. Tripping. Too many men. Roughing. Interference. You name it. 

The Blackhawks cleaned up their act in the final two periods, committing only one minor penalty the rest of the game. That wasn't the case for the Canucks, who racked up 36 total penalty minutes. A lack of discipline was evident for both teams, but one team took advantage and the other did not, which leads us to our final bullet point...

3. Penalty kill remains on fire

Speaking of special teams, the Blackhawks won that department and it's the primary reason they came away with a victory in Game 3. In fact, it seemed like all series long, whichever team won the special teams battle often won the game.

The Blackhawks scored two of their five goals on the power play in this game and could've been credited with a third but the penalty had just expired before Kris Versteeg scored goal an even-strength goal. But more importantly, they went 4-for-4 on the penalty kill to continue a ridiculous postseason streak.

After another perfect performance, the Blackhawks improved to 38-for-41 on the penalty kill through their first nine contests for a percentage of 92.7. The Blackhawks had also scored two shorthanded goals to that point, so their postseason goal differential shorthanded was only minus-1. Just an incredible stat.

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