Nine of the twenty players that dressed for the Chicago Blackhawks in Game 6 of the Stanley Cup final are gone: Dustin Byfuglien, Andrew Ladd, Kris Versteeg, John Madden, Brent Sopel, Ben Eager, Nick Boynton and both goaltenders, Antti Niemi and Cristobal Huet (he will be buried in the AHL or KHL in a salary dump move when the season starts). Also gone are healthy scratches Adam Burish and Colin Fraser.
That's a lot of turnover for a championship team. But while yes, there are some impressive players included in that mix, only Byfuglien was truly integral part of Chicago's magical spring of 2010. Versteeg has top 6 talent, and Ladd is nicely filling a John Tonelli-like role, and yes Niemi is now a Stanley Cup winning goalie. But the bottom line is they are all, in the Blackhawks system anyways, replaceable.
The Hawks still have all the key pieces in place. Up front they have Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane, and Marian Hossa, with Patrick Sharp, Dave Bolland and Troy Brouwer offering excellent secondary support. On the blue line they boast Duncan Keith, Brent Seabrook and Niklas Hjalmarsson. (I bet they sure would have loved to unload Brian Campbell's contract somehow prior to July 1st though).
And today they signed Marty Turco in net. He's not the same Turco he was years ago, but he should be able to give Chicago steady goaltending - which is all Niemi did.
So don't count the Stanley Cup champs out just yet. The Blackhawks are down, but they will rise again.
Hi Joe, excellent and concise perspective on the Blackhawks' situation. As Scotty Bowman said in his interview on Prime Time Sports radio the other day, the trend nowadays is clear: spend to the limit to win, and then rebuild using the farm system.
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