CHICAGO -- Despite saying good-bye to three teammates who helped them win a Stanley Cup, at least two Chicago Blackhawks understand why Troy Brouwer, Brian Campbell and Tomas Kopecky were cut loose in favor of some tougher, older players.
"We've added some things that will help us win again," Patrick Kane said Wednesday. "That's the most important thing.
"You can have those relationships, and it's always nice to have those, but we're here to win hockey games. You see some of the players we added. You get a lot of grit, some experience, some maturity."
Kane and Niklas Hjalmarsson were on hand for the grand opening of Blackhawks/Stanley's Kitchen & Tap restaurant in O'Hare airport.
"The guys we brought in are a bit tougher," Hjalmarsson said. "Maybe that's what we were missing last year. That toughness I think.
"It's sad to see a guy like Brian go, especially for me. That's a guy that helped me a lot when I came up from the minors. He helped me on the ice and off the ice. Every good thing has an end. That's what you guys say over here. I wish him luck in Florida."
Kane was one player who noted the lack of toughness on the roster at the end of last season. The Blackhawks fell to the Vancouver Canucks in seven games in the first round of the playoffs. The Canucks played a more physical series than Chicago.
"I don't think you can have ever have more than enough [toughness], especially on our team," Kane said. "You look at so many skill players that we have, I think last year -- I don't want to say we got exposed -- but we weren't like as protected enough as years before.
"Sometimes you have to mix and match. You just can't put the best 12 players on the ice at all times because they are the most skilled. You need certain players for certain roles."
Brouwer was an occasional line-mate of Kane and recently intimated his teammates weren't thrilled with the continued roster turnover from the 2009-10 championship team.
"I think the thing with Brouwer, he never really felt like he got a fair shake," Kane said. "A lot of people have heard that. I told him good luck."
Kane and Hjalmarsson along with other present and former Hawks are in town for the fourth annual Blackhawks convention which begins Friday.
Jesse Rogers covers the Blackhawks for ESPNChicago.com and ESPN 1000.