CHICAGO -- Even though the Chicago Blackhawks aren’t done just yet celebrating being the 2013 Stanley Cup champions, they’re not worried about suffering from a Cup hangover next season.
The Blackhawks will be aiming to become the first team in the 21st century to repeat as Stanley Cup champions. The last team to win consecutive Stanley Cups was the Detroit Red Wings in 1997 and 1998.
“There’s always the saying you got that Stanley Cup hangover, but we feel like we have a good team, the same team we had last year,” Blackhawks forward Bryan Bickell said prior to the Blackhawks convention on Friday. “We just have to bring the same mindset that we came into last year. I know it’s going to be a shortened summer to get in shape, but we have a season to a figure it out to make a push in the playoffs.”
One reason for the Blackhawks’ confidence for next season is they bring nearly everyone back from their Stanley Cup roster. Blackhawks general manager Stan Bowman re-signed unrestricted free agents Bickell, Michal Handzus and Michael Rozsival and restricted free agents Nick Leddy and Marcus Kruger. The only players not returning are backup goaltender Ray Emery (Philadelphia Flyers) and forwards Dave Bolland (Toronto Maple Leafs), Viktor Stalberg (Nashville Predators) and Michael Frolik (Winnipeg Jets).
Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews was happy to not be dealing with a large roster turnover like when they won the Stanley Cup in 2010.
“It’s a huge relief not to see half your team traded away or re-signed with other teams in the offseason, especially after winning the Cup,” Toews said. “It’s a special thing. We know we lost a couple of guys.
“You never want to see guys go, and I think you always have that bond with the guys you win the Stanley Cup with. I wish them all the best. We’re very happy with the fact our team has pretty much stayed intact. I think that’s going to carry our energy and confidence into next year, too.”
The Blackhawks completed their Stanley Cup finals on June 24 and will open their training camp on Sept. 12. Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville anticipated another unique season with conference and divisional realignment and the Olympics occurring this season.
“We’re going to be busy,” Quenneville said. “It’s an interesting year, a lot of new things going into the season with the new alignment, the Olympic year as well. We’ll have several players going to camps going into the season as well. There’s going to be a lot of things that are going to be happening. The schedule gets compressed as well.
“Winning the Cup, the question is going to be, ‘How is that Stanley Cup hangover?’ I think we’ve dealt with that in the past, and I think going into this year we’ll be comparable to how we started this year knowing that you want to make sure your depth is going to be important and valuable throughout the year and right off the bat use everybody and make everybody contribute to the team’s success and get off on the right start.”