Blackhawks

Will Stern allow more shortened seasons?

758216.png

Will Stern allow more shortened seasons?

Beginning the 2011-12 NBA season on Christmas, rather than in late October, was liked by some fans and hated by others. For those who weren't a fan of it, you're in luck. David Stern has annouced a shortened season won't happen again.

Stern says he is "skeptical of shortening the number of games in a season."

He claims the rigorous schedule may be related to the high number of injuries throughout the league, but Deputy Commissioner Adam Silver was a bit more straightforward.

"If you cut the season shorter, we cut our revenues significantly as well. Players would make less, so no, and I think it's not optimal to play a condensed season in this fashion."

The league's pro-rated 66 games this season not only caused the players to make less money, but it also affected revenue from ticket sales, sponsorships, television networks, and lessened the pay to arena employees.

Everyone wants to get paid, which means we won't be seeing anything short of 82 games per season anytime soon.

Why Blackhawks are eager for 'heck of an opportunity' ahead of NHL's restart

Why Blackhawks are eager for 'heck of an opportunity' ahead of NHL's restart

When the NHL paused its season on March 12, the Blackhawks had a 2.6 percent chance of making the playoffs, according to Hockey Reference. They were six points out of the final wildcard spot in the Western Conference and had four teams to jump, which would have been virtually impossible with only three weeks of hockey left.

But because of the financial ramifications of the COVID-19 pandemic, the league was forced to get creative about its Return to Play plan and announced a 24-team format in May. The Blackhawks, as we know, were the final team in the West to get in.

And while it may not feel like their postseason drought has ended, the Blackhawks won't apologize for it. They've been handed a gift and want to take advantage of this new life.

"It's a heck of an opportunity," Jonathan Toews said after Day 1 of training camp. "We were kind of going down that road where our playoff chances were dwindling. It would've been a long-shot otherwise, but we were able to sneak in under these rules and under this format, so it's an opportunity for all of us. Regardless of whether there's fans in the building or not, there's something to play for."

Click to download the MyTeams App for the latest Blackhawks news and analysis.

You won't find a bigger competitor than Duncan Keith, who's a two-time Norris Trophy winner and wears his emotions on his sleeve. He wants to get back to playing consistent playoff hockey and is as motivated about the restart as anyone. Just check his Instagram page.

"The biggest thing is just the fact that we're getting a chance to compete and be in the playoffs," Keith said. "You go back to the regular season, we were several points out and it wasn't looking good. Now we're in this opportunity — it's a great opportunity for us to try to prove that we deserve to be in the playoffs. ... We know we've got our work cut out for us, but I think as a group, we're excited to have this opportunity and show that we belong and that we could make some noise as an underdog."

On one end of the spectrum, you have a group of multiple Stanley Cup winners hungry to play meaningful hockey again. On the other end, you have a group of young players that haven't had a taste of the postseason yet and are itching to find out, even though there won't be any fans in attendance.

Put the groups together and you have a hungry Blackhawks squad that's eager to show they can make a potential run.

"It's good experience for everyone because the veteran guys that have played a lot of playoff hockey have never been through something like this before and the young guys who have never played in the playoffs, there's no better opportunity to try and get your feet wet and try and show your teammates what you can do," Toews said. "So, every game, that thought of the Cup being on the line has to be in the back of your mind. You win one game, there's no telling how far you can go, so we'll really try and build that feeling and that mindset in the locker room over the next couple weeks before we start."

David Montgomery could be facing make-or-break season in 2020

David Montgomery could be facing make-or-break season in 2020

Chicago Bears running back David Montgomery is entering just his second season in the league, and after a rookie year that included the usual ups and downs from a first-year player, the expectations are much higher for Year 2.

Montgomery ended last season with 889 yards and six touchdowns, but his 3.7 yards per carry left a bit to be desired. He ran hard; he ran determined. But in today's NFL, sub-900 yards just isn't good enough.

If he has another season with production like that, it could be his last in Chicago. Sure, that seems harsh. But take a look at the running backs who will be available in next year's free-agent market:

And it doesn't stop there. The 2021 NFL draft will provide teams looking to upgrade at running back with some pretty good options:

Montgomery will run behind an improved offensive line in 2020 with the addition of Germain Ifedi and the coaching upgrade through Juan Castillo. The quarterback play should be improved, too, even if Mitch Trubisky wins the job. The presence of Nick Foles will force him to bring his A-game every week. Those two factors will create bigger running lanes and a greater likelihood Montgomery will find his way to the second level of opposing defenses.

But if he doesn't? The Bears won't be hurting for options to replace him.