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Other Miracle on Ice: Riveting new film captures tells story of great Soviet team; Hockey ballet on ice

My latest column for the Chicago Tribune is on a new film by Chicago-area native Gabe Polsky, who tells the complete story of the great Soviet hockey team.

The film, which opens in theaters this week, is terrific. Highly recommended.

From the column:

*******

Naturally, Gabe Polsky remembers all three goals he scored during his college hockey days at Yale. He also has vivid memories of what happened after he bagged two goals in the opener of his sophomore season.

“I wasn’t in the lineup for the next game,” Polsky said. “Welcome to college hockey.”

While the Glencoe native’s aspirations of a pro hockey career soon vanished, his sense of unfinished business with the game never dissipated. Polsky, 35, believes he finally has filled the void with the famed Soviet Union hockey team.

Polsky’s new documentary, “Red Army,” tells the … Continue Reading

Damn: Marshawn Lynch gets another chance to mock media in Super Bowl

I live in Chicago, but I’m not one of those Packers-hating Bear fans. I think Aaron Rodgers is terrific and love the tradition of what goes on in Green Bay.

However, I also had another reason to root for the Packers Sunday: Marshawn Lynch.

I really did not want to see Lynch get another shot at making a mockery of his media duties at the Super Bowl. Damn.

The Seattle running back already gave a sneak preview of his act in Arizona by completely snubbing the media after his terrific performance Sunday. It seems he also could be in line for more fines beyond not talking.

Ryan Parker of the Los Angeles Times reports:

The Seattle Seahawks controversial running back Marshawn Lynch had a huge game Sunday, helping his team beat the Green Bay Packers, and, for a second year

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Bulls Paxson takes issue with Van Gundy’s comments; “Pretty pathetic”

It seems like we have nice feud brewing between the Bulls and Jeff Van Gundy.

On Saturday, I did a post in the Chicago Tribune about Van Gundy’s comments during Friday’s Bulls-Dallas game.

Jeff Van Gundy came down on the media Friday, claiming some members “are in the hip pocket” with Bulls management. He alleges the Bulls are leaking stories to “undermine” Tom Thibodeau.

Van Gundy’s comments came in a strongly-worded defense of the Bulls coach during ESPN’s telecast of the Bulls-Dallas game. Thibodeau was a former assistant coach for Van Gundy and they are close friends.

“I read every Chicago story,” Van Gundy said. “There is no doubt the Bulls organization has the media, with a few exceptions, in their hip pocket. For whatever reasons, they have set their sights on Thibodeau when all he’s done is deliver greatness

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Other Miracle on Ice: Riveting new film captures tells story of great Soviet team; Hockey ballet on ice

My latest column for the Chicago Tribune is on a new film by Chicago-area native Gabe Polsky, who tells the complete story of the great Soviet hockey team.

The film, which opens in theaters this week, is terrific. Highly recommended.

From the column:

*******

Naturally, Gabe Polsky remembers all three goals he scored during his college hockey days at Yale. He also has vivid memories of what happened after he bagged two goals in the opener of his sophomore season.

“I wasn’t in the lineup for the next game,” Polsky said. “Welcome to college hockey.”

While the Glencoe native’s aspirations of a pro hockey career soon vanished, his sense of unfinished business with the game never dissipated. Polsky, 35, believes he finally has filled the void with the famed Soviet Union hockey team.

Polsky’s new documentary, “Red Army,” tells the … Continue Reading

Let’s play 36: Mr. Cub loved golf and Tiger

In 1997, I covered my first tournament as the Tribune’s new golf writer. It just happened to be the Masters when Tiger Woods made history.

While walking the course during the final round, who do I happen to see? Ernie Banks.

“What are you doing here?” I asked.

“I just had to be here to see this,” Banks replied.

Of course, the man who was mentored by Jackie Robinson as the first African-American player for the Cubs had to be a witness to an epic moment in golf. Watching on TV wasn’t going to cut it.

Naturally, I included Banks’ comments in my story on the historical significance of Woods’ victory. In a subsequent interview, he recalled:

“I played with Charlie Sifford, Lee Elder, Calvin Peete, Jim Thorpe, Jim Dent, all of them. When Tiger won, I thought about those … Continue Reading

Thankfully, Stuart Scott’s voice will be heard again with new book

Stuart Scott left us a great gift.

Scott, who died Jan. 4 at the age of 49, details his battle with cancer in a new book “Every Day I Fight.” The official publication date is March 10.

ESPN.com ran an excerpt this week. He talks about his zealous determination to not let cancer take him down.

From the excerpt:

“I can’t tell you how important it felt to go from the chemo infusion center to the gym. There were patients at the infusion center who were gaunt and too weak to walk. I wanted to hug them. I wanted to work out for them. It took about fifteen minutes to get to the gym from the infusion center, but I felt like I was traveling a great distance: from the land of the sick to the land of the

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Who lands exclusive interview with Patriots ball boy?

If you really want to get to the heart of Deflate-gate, go find the New England Patriots ball boy who had to be in on the scam. Here’s a clue: Look for a ball boy who is driving a new Mercedes.

You would have to think there is a Patriots ball boy who knows exactly what went down last Sunday. You also would have to think the Patriots are paying him well to keep quiet. Who knows, he might be relaxing on his new private island in the Caribbean, courtesy of Tom Brady.

Then again, maybe the payoff is yet to come. How much would this story be worth to TMZ?

Also, just wondering if the ball is deflated in this classic Patriots logo.

Oh man, it is going to be a feeding frenzy at the Super Bowl next week.… Continue Reading

NFL on Google? Could be on agenda in the 2020s

Get ready people because the TV revolution truly is just around the corner.

The notion of watching the NFL via Google isn’t as far-fetched as it sounds.

In an interview with Peter King of MMQB, Brian Rolapp, the NFL’s executive vice-president for media, acknowledged the platforms likely will be much different in the next decade.

“(People ask) ‘when is Google going to carry a game package?’” Rolapp said. “I think the answer is once an Internet player can sustain 30 million users at the level and the quality that they expect to get on television. Five years ago, we were like, We don’t see that. Now? That might be possible as we sit with the Google guys.”

Rolapp explained how the set-up might work.

“Our broadcast contracts go through 2022,” he said. “We’ve made our bed. And in 2023? I don’t … Continue Reading

Special men: Meet writers and photographers who have covered all 48 Super Bowls

Worth your attention on the four photographers and three writers who have covered every Super Bowl.

Friday at 7 p.m. ET, ESPN will air “Keepers of the Streak.” The film (link to trailer) is directed by sports photographer Neil Leifer and chronicles the decades-long journey of veteran shooters John Biever, Walter Iooss, Mickey Palmer and Tony Tomsic. It features a great ending about Sports Illustrated’s cover for last year’s Super Bowl.

Also, you get the inside story of how Iooss landed the famous Joe Namath picture from Super Bowl III.

Meanwhile, Richard Deitsch at SI.com wrote a terrific piece on three writers who have covered every Super Bowl: Jerry Green, Jerry Izenberg, and Dave Klein.

How was back then:

Their memories of the first game — Green Bay’s 35-10 romp over Kansas City — remain sharp. Izenberg recalled

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Devastating news: Blackhawks writer Mike Spellman dies

For those who toil in there, the press box feels like a fraternity. Sports reporters often spend more time with other sports reporters than they do with their families.

Mike Spellman lived in that world. That’s why the Chicago sports fraternity was devastated today in learning the news that he died unexpectedly yesterday. Today would have been his 51st birthday.

Spellman recently took over the Blackhawks beat for the Daily Herald. He succeeded Tim Sassone who died last year.

Spellman’s greatest asset was his versatility. He covered everything for the Daily Herald. I got to know him from his work as a golf writer.

Beyond that, Spellman was one of those guys you looked forward to seeing when you walked in the press room. He always was friendly and had an upbeat attitude. Believe me, upbeat isn’t a description that … Continue Reading