With the 2012-13 season in the books and the Championship banner hanging from the rafters, the Blackhawks are back on the ice with no signs of a Stanley Cup hangover, looking to take care of business.
The Chicago Blackhawks will experience the emergence of new rivalries fostered by the new realignment plan for the NHL, starting this season. In the Western Conference, the central division is now comprised of Chicago Blackhawks, Colorado Avalanche, Dallas Stars, Minnesota Wild, Nashville Predators, St. Louis Blues and Winnipeg Jets. With the Detroit Red Wings migrating to the Eastern Conference, it wouldn’t be out of the question for the Minnesota Wild become Enemy #1 this season.
Unlike the necessary team dismantling after winning the Cup in 2010 due to salary cap restrictions, the 2013-14 roster remains mostly intact. The only departing players since hoisting the Stanley Cup are Michael Frolik, Danny Carcillo and Dave Bolland, who were traded, and Ray Emery and Viktor Stalberg, who signed with other teams. The core of Patrick Kane, Jonathan Toews, Marian Hossa, Patrick Sharp, Brent Seabrook and Duncan Keith remains intact.
Depth in the roster runs deep with forwards Bryan Bickell, Brandon Saad, Andrew Shaw, Marcus Kruger, Michal Handzus and Brandon Bollig; defenseman Niklas Hjalmarsson, Nick Leddy, Johnny Oduya, Michal Rozsival and Sheldon Brookbank and netminders Corey Crawford and the returning Russian Brick Wall, Nikolai Khabibulin. The unknowns as the team enters training camp are who will be the number two center and who will fill in for the brilliance that Frolik added to the penalty kill? With so much already in place, the Blackhawks could emerge as the next NHL Dynasty. Only time will tell.
Since their inception in 1926, the Chicago Blackhawks have won the Stanley Cup five times: 1934, 1938, 1961, 2010 and 2013.