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The Blackhawks Backhand

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Charges have been dropped after Blackhawks prospect Garret Ross was accused of sharing an image of a woman engaged in a sexual act without her consent. The DeKalb County state’s attorney confirmed Tuesday that the charges were dropped. The Blackhawks issued a statement last week saying they learned of the felony charge against Ross on Saturday and excused him from team activities pending a review. Later, the team decided to suspend Ross indefinitely. That suspension was lifted when the legal case ended and Ross has been reinstated, the Blackhawks said Tuesday.

03 January 2016: Chicago Blackhawks Defenseman Duncan Keith (2) [2958] in action during a game between the Ottawa Senators and Chicago Blackhawks at the United Center in Chicago, IL. (Photo by Patrick Gorski/Icon Sportswire)

On Wednesday, the NHL’s Department of Player Safety announced that Duncan Keith has been offered an in-person hearing to address the high-sticking incident that saw him ejected from Tuesday night’s game against the Minnesota Wild. By offering him an in-person hearing the department opens up the possibility of suspending Keith for six or more games. Keith received a five-minute major and match penalty Tuesday night after he violently swung his stick at Wild Forward Charlie Coyle while Keith was seated on the ice. He struck Coyle in the nose. Because Keith received a match penalty, he is already automatically suspended one game. The Blackhawks have only five games remaining in the regular season, meaning Keith is at risk of being suspended long enough to where that suspension carries into the playoffs. This is Keith’s second stick-swinging incident of his career.

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The Chicago chapter of the Professional Hockey Writers Association nominated Michal Rozsival for the 2016 Masterton Trophy, annually awarded to a player who “best exemplifies the qualities of perseverance, sportsmanship and dedication to ice hockey.” The 37-year-old defenseman fractured his ankle in the second round of the 2015 Stanley Cup playoffs and instead of retiring, he re-signed a one-year deal over the off-season. Rozsival returned to the ice last November. Only two other Blackhawks have won the award: Pit Martin in 1969-70 and Bryan Berard in 2003-04. The top three nominees with the most votes, in a poll by PHWA members, will be named finalists and the winner will be announced at the NHL Awards in June.

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