Will the Blackhawks repeat as champions?
The 2013-14 Blackhawks will be an absolutely fascinating team. Because if there's one thing we know with a near certainty, it's that championship teams don't repeat during the salary cap era. It's just too hard.
Sometimes it's because you have to purge half your roster because of the salary cap, as Chicago did after winning it all in 2010. Or you get away from the consistent style of play that made you great, as the Bruins occasionally did after winning the Cup in 2011. Or you run into a gauntlet of a playoff road like the Kings hit last year against the Blues, Sharks and Blackhawks.
A summer of celebrating, mixed in with incredible parity and the likelihood that the fortunate bounces that are a requirement of a Stanley Cup championship won't happen in consecutive seasons means we haven't seen back-to-back champs since the Red Wings in 1996-97 and 1997-98. But this Blackhawks team may just be the one best poised to do it in recent memory.
Why Chicago will repeat as champions
1. Crawford back in net
In awarding Corey Crawford with a six-year, $36 million contract after he led the Blackhawks to a Stanley Cup, GM Stan Bowman erased one of the potential distractions from the coming season and was able to do something he couldn't the last time his team won it all: bring back the starting goalie. "The one thing we do know is we're going to have a great goaltender," Bowman said while talking about some of the uncertainties moving forward. "That's why this was an easy decision for us."
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