Chicago Fall Sports Report: Forecasts for the 2010-11 Bears, Hawks & Bulls Seasons
As we roll into October with no baseball playoffs in our future, the landscape shifts to our Fall teams and there is a lot to be excited about. Here is an early season report on our three Chicago teams – Bears, Bulls and Blackhawks.
One could say the Bears 3-0 record is pretty shocking and I would not disagree. They escaped week 1 vs. the Lions, came up huge in Dallas, and then found a way to beat the hated Packers Monday night in a huge early season showdown. The Bears have certainly not been pretty at times but the bottom line is they are 3-0 and headed into a soft part of the schedule.
This Sunday will be very difficult against a desperate Giants team but they’ll follow that up against a struggling Carolina team and a very beatable Seattle team at home. If the Bears can get through that stretch as a 5-1 football team they are looking very, very good.
The defense is playing good football and Julius Peppers is proving to be the impact player that Jerry Angelo thought he would be when he gave him the biggest contract in Bears history. On offense the Bears seem to be taking advantage of Mike Martz and a coordinator who can actually make in-game adjustments, and year two of Jay Cutler is starting to show flashes of how great he can really be.
In any event, the Bears are 3-0 and in a city like Chicago, it is time to start dreaming…but let’s not start making those reservations for Dallas just yet. There is a long way to go.
Many pre-season prognosticators have the Bulls ranked among the best teams on the Eastern Conference. While that may be giving them a tad more credit than might be deserved right now, this is a team that has the pieces in place to be very good.
Carlos Boozer is a big addition for the Bulls and there is no reason why Derrick Rose will not become even more of an elite player than he was last year. With Carmelo Anthony rumors buzzing, the Bulls showed how much faith they have in Joaquim Noah when they said no possible deal for Anthony would include the two-time NCAA Champion from Florida. Noah possesses a hard-working spirit that many teams feel is imperative to building a championship team.
So, there is a lot to be very optimistic about this Bulls team as they get ready for camp to begin. Many have been calling for the Bulls to make the big trade for Carmelo Anthony, but I for one think this team is ready to take the next step just as it is.
The Stanley Cup champs (that has a nice ring to it) are on the ice in the middle of their pre-season schedule. After three games, any close observer of the Hawks has to be happy to see some some assets that came in return of the unfortunate movement of players in the offseason.
The hard salary cap in the NHL forced the Hawks to move some players out that were very well-liked by the organization and the fans alike. However, some very exciting future pieces to the puzzle have been added. And for you fans who still have lingering sadness from all the movement, maybe this will make you feel better:
Marty Turco (Replacing Cristobal Huet and Antii Niemi)
While losing Niemi was not what anyone wanted, Turco may prove to be the one guy that will make Hawk fans forget the guy that helped us win the Cup last year.
Already you can see Turco’s amazing ability to play the puck as a goalie and many Hawk D-men have already said it will be like have a 3rd defensemen on the ice at all times. He is a veteran guy who has the fire to win and will be a big addition to this season’s squad.
Jeremy Morin #27 (Aquired in deal for Byfuglien, Eager, Sopol)
Morin has been a star in training camp and is really making a push to make the big team right now as a 19-year-old. He is very skilled and can be a guy to replace the skill and scoring touch of Kris Versteeg. He scored 40+ goals in Kitchener last year and definitely has a huge future in Chicago that might have us comparing him to another Jeremy that wore #27 for the Blackhawks…….
Nick Leddy #37 (Aquired for Cam Barker)
Leddy was acquired in the deal that sent Cam Barker to Minnesota. Leddy is another 19-year-old with tremendous skill who is pushing to make the club right now. He has had a great camp and has definitely caught the eye of Blackhawks coach Joel Queneville. While Leddy has shined in camp, expect him to play a year in Rockford, get some experience, and ease the cap situation for the Hawks.
Leddy would make 1.4 million if he made the team and that is within $200,000.00 of three other Hawks defensemen combined (Hendry, Scott, Boynton). Either way, Blackhawks fans should remember this name.
Victor Stalberg #25 (Aquired for Kris Versteeg)
Acquired in the trade for Kris Versteeg, Stalberg has already been said to be the fastest player on the Blackhawks’ roster and that includes one Patrick Kane. He has not gotten off to a great start in training camp, but this kid has speed, size and scoring potential so he should be a major part of the Hawks this year.
Jack Skille #11 (Draft)
Skille is a former 1st round draft choice who is finally getting his chance to show that he belongs. Skille was shuffled to and from Rockford last year but with the Hawks offseason moves that were forced upon them, this is one player who now gets his big shot. Skille had a goal and an assist in the game Saturday night at the UC and looks to be positioned to be a top six forward for the Hawks.
Igor Makarov #26 (Draft)
Makarov has been another standout in training camp who is making a lot of noise right now about getting a spot on the roster. Expect Makarov to also start in Rockford but his talent is obvious to everyone and could be a player you will see on the active roster at some point during the season.
Kyle Beach #12
Lots of Buzz about this former 1st round pick but Kyle Beach needs a full year in Rockford to play big minutes every night. He will definitely be on the Hawks roster next season and brings a ton to the table.
Fernando Pisani #15 (Free Agent)
Ryan Poyulny #16 (Free Agent)
Jake Dowell #28 (Draft)
Blackhawks fans, meet your new 4th line. While you do not know these names now, they will be everyday players who will be household names to all Hawks fans very soon. Pisani and Potulny were signed as free agents who both last played in Edmonton. They bring toughness, experience and some skill to the 4th line that will be centered by Jake Dowell. Dowell is an Adam Burish type of a guy who plays hard and is not afraid to drop the mitts.
Here is my guess on the opening night lineup:
Scratched: Boynton, Potulny
Final cuts and headed to Rockford: Beech, Leddy, Makarov, Morin