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Thursday July 15, 2010 1:18 am

The dismantling of the Stanley Cup champion Chicago Blackhawks




Posted by Adrien Griffin Categories: Athletes, Championship, NHL,

Jonathan ToewsThe season has yet to begin, but it already looks like the Chicago Blackhawks are mailing it in. Okay, maybe that is a little harsh, but since winning their first Stanley Cup since 1961 last month, the team has shipped a lot of key players out the door in order to make room under the salary cap. More than a half-dozen who drank from Lord Stanley’s mug have moved out of Chicago - willingly or unwillingly - and won’t be back for the 2010-11 season.

The list of players that GM Stan Bowman traded includes Dustin Byfuglien, Ben Eager, Colin Fraser, Andrew Ladd, Brent Sopel and Kris Versteeg. Other exiles include Adam Burnish and John Madden. It’s a dismantling of epic proportions in the city not used to winning championships. Many guys who played key roles in bringing the Cup back to the Windy City after so many years will not be a part of the celebrations that traditionally come with the start of the new NHL season in October.

So the offseason began, contracts rose and bodies were shipped out of town. The only consolation for Hawks fans may be that they won a Cup before losing so many of their beloved players. Still, some of the core players like Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane and Duncan Keith are still there, ready to reload the team and attempt something even more unthinkable than Chicago winning the Stanley Cup; winning it again. There are a lot of holes to fill, but it’s certainly possible.

The Blackhawks are going to look like a completely different team next season, and whether or not that’s good for them will be decided quickly. Whether Toews and Kane can handle the pressure of being “veteran” leaders is questionable. Whether Antti Niemi can continue the hot style that lead him to becoming the first Finnish goalie to win the Cup is open to debate. The Hawks are no longer the underdogs; now they’re on top, and when you’re on top, there’s only one way you can go.

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