Throughout the month of August, PHT will be dedicating a day to all 30 NHL clubs. Today’s team? The defending Stanley Cup champion Chicago Blackhawks.
Ho-hum, it was just another Stanley Cup-winning season for the still young and still very talented Blackhawks. Any and all questions they had going into last season were answered quickly. Could Corey Crawford lead the way in net? He sure did. Can Patrick Kane focus himself and play the way he’s capable? You bet he did. Will their defense rebound and play the way the way they’re supposed do? Definitely.
So what do they do for an encore? Probably get a lot of the same questions asked of them to be stretched over an 82-game season and playoffs. Anyone coming with doubts better be prepared to get served with a heap of answers.
Just like in 2010 when they won the Cup, the Blackhawks did some housecleaning with the roster. Forward Viktor Stalberg (Nashville) and backup goalie Ray Emery (Philadelphia) departed via free agency. Forwards Dave Bolland, Michael Frolik, and Daniel Carcillo were all sent out via trade for draft picks.
Filling their spots will mostly be guys from within the organization. Sure they brought back an old face in Nikolai Khabibulin to backup Crawford and added defensemen Mike Kostka and Theo Peckham for depth, but you might be better served studying the AHL Rockford roster from last season to see who might be on the way this year.
If nothing else, GM Stan Bowman has the way to do things down to a science and even that amount of roster turnover won’t be too stunning. Besides, coach Joel Quenneville is there to keep things in order when it all comes down to it. Life is good in the Windy City these days.