Kruger to make debut; Campbell returning?


Kruger to make debut; Campbell returning?

Wednesday, March 23, 2011
Posted: 12:13 p.m. Updated: 12:49 p.m.

By Tracey Myers

The thought of joining an NHL team right away would sway a lot of 20-year-old players. But Marcus Kruger had made up his mind: he had contractual obligations in Sweden, and he wasnt coming to the Chicago Blackhawks until they were filled.

Now they are, and now hes here.

Kruger, who general manager Stan Bowman wanted to join the Blackhawks after prospect camp, will make his NHL debut tonight when the Blackhawks host the Florida Panthers at the United Center. Kruger got to Chicago around noon on Tuesday; hell center a line with Bryan Bickell and Troy Brouwer tonight.

I got here (yesterday) and it feels great to finally be here and doing what I can to help the team, said Kruger, who considers himself a two-way player. I just play my game. I keep the puck and do what I can to help the team. Whatever the coaches want me to do Ill do 100 percent.

Blackhawks general manager Stan Bowman said he put the full-court press on Kruger to join the Blackhawks entering this season; he even recruited fellow Swede Niklas Hjalmarsson to try and change Krugers mind. But Kruger felt he needed another season in his home country, so he stayed.

In 52 games with Djurgarden, he had six goals and 29 assists.

I was committed to a contract back in Sweden, he said. Thats something I wanted to do and Ive done that. It was based on that.

Kruger fills a void left by Dave Bolland, whos still dealing with concussion issues. But Bowman said they planned to bring Kruger in sometime this season, regardless of injuries.

Hes a responsible center who can play both ways, Bowman said. Two years ago he was a rookie in the Swedish league and was one of the best. Thats very impressive for a player at that age to be that good over there.

He can do a little bit of everything offensively, defensively and kill penalties. Hes just a smart player with good instincts, anticipation. The question for him was handling the strength side of it. But just from last summer, seeing him today, it looks like hes gotten stronger and developed a bit.

Krugers biggest adjustment will be playing on the smaller North American rink, but his hockey smarts are considered a big asset for him. Coach Joel Quenneville told Kruger to use those tonight.

We kind of told him, Tonight, trust your instincts, play your game. Your strength is your anticipation and your mindset. Positionally he should be fine, Quenneville said. Theres some upside to his game. We watched him in prospect camp and he just looks like he wants the puck and it looks like hell be pretty handy with it as well.

Campbell in?

Brian Campbell (left foot) skated this morning and said he felt much better. He said there was a good chance he could play tonight against Florida.

I havent ruled on it 100 percent but I feel theres a good shot at it, he said. I felt good this morning and all day yesterday. Thats something that hasnt happened before so thats a good sign.

Quenneville said Campbell looked much better this morning.

He pushed himself more than he did yesterday, he said. He looks ready to go tonight and hopeful hes likely to play.

Tracey Myers is's Blackhawks Insider. Follow Tracey on Twitter @TramyersCSN for up-to-the-minute Hawks information.

Cubs, at 13-3, are off to their best 16-game start since 1907

Cubs, at 13-3, are off to their best 16-game start since 1907

It's been a heck of a good start to the 2020 season for the Cubs.

One might call it a historic start, in fact.

With Thursday's 4-2 win over the Brewers, the Cubs improved to 13-3, matching their best start in franchise history through 16 games with the 1907 team. The 1970 Cubs went 12-4 through 16 games, as did the 2016 championship team.

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The 1907 Cubs didn't lose a fourth time until Game 20 (16-4), so the 2020 team needs a few more wins to secure the best 20-game start in team history (dating back to 1901).

For now, how about what this team's accomplished in the first quarter of this 60-game season?


Quick takes: Yu Darvish throws one-hitter, Cubs add insurance in win vs. Brewers

Quick takes: Yu Darvish throws one-hitter, Cubs add insurance in win vs. Brewers

The Cubs still have the best winning percentage in baseball.

By beating the Brewers 4-2 on Thursday, the Cubs improved to 13-3 (.813). They also are tied for the most wins in MLB, despite having their three-game series at St. Louis postponed.

Darvish sets season high

With a fastball up and in to Omar Narváez, Yu Darvish recorded his 11th strikeout of the night, a season high. The next batter, Ben Gamel, flew out to left field for the final out of the seventh inning.

That’s how Darvish’s night on the mound ended. If it weren’t for one pitch – a cutter to Justin Smoak – he would have allowed no hits. But his outing was still dominant: seven innings, one hit, one run, two walks, 11 strikeouts and 104 pitches.

The one run came on Smoak’s solo homer in the seventh inning.

Starting off young

The Cubs scratched Kris Bryant (left wrist and ring finger soreness) from the lineup Thursday. He had rolled his wrist on a dive in left field the night before. That gave 23-year-old Nico Hoerner the chance to bat leadoff for the first time this season.

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Hoerner started off his night at the plate with a double to left field. He advanced to third and then scored on two consecutive ground outs. That put the Cubs on the board.

He made hard contact in his second at-bat a well, but lined out to right field.

Well insured

The Cubs have made a habit of piling on insurance runs in late innings. Thursday was no different.

Entering the sixth inning, the Cubs already had a two-run lead. They scored two more.

Willson Contreras led off with a walk. Then, two batters later Ian Happ hit a double off the center field wall. Contreras checked over his shoulder as he rounded third and never slowed on his way to sliding head-first across the plate. Safe.

Happ advanced to third on the throw home and then scored on a single by David Bote.

Where they stand

With a 13-3 record, the Cubs have had their best 16-game start since 1907, when the team also won 13 of its first 16 games.

On Deck

Thursday’s game was the first in a four-game series against the Brewers and kicked off a 10-game homestand.