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Blackhawks' mix similar to Cup-winning team

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08:24 AM ET 09.13 | A too-long offseason is finally coming to a close in Chicago, where the Blackhawks are coming back to work with some new expectations. The Blackhawks roster doesn't look anything like it did last season. There's a lot more depth, a lot more experience and yes, just in case you haven't read it before, a lot more physical presence. The new guys haven't been integrated on the ice yet, but the on-paper potential still begs the question: is the 2011-12 team looking more like the 2009-10 Cup winning team? ... The Blackhawks are back to being what they were two seasons ago, a skilled team with enough muscle to keep opponents honest. The balance is back. The long playoff runs could be, too.

CSNChicago.com

Jonathan Toews, Getty Images Jonathan Toews, Getty Images
September 13, 2011  08:36 AM ET

Remind me again who'll play in the nets for them? That might make a difference between this team and the one that won the Cup.

September 13, 2011  08:38 AM ET

and let's not forget they almost pulled off a sweet upset of the Nucks in round 1 last season

September 13, 2011  08:42 AM ET
QUOTE(#2):

and let's not forget they almost pulled off a sweet upset of the Nucks in round 1 last season

The first of three teasers for Canuck fans.

September 13, 2011  09:43 AM ET

I think there should be a policy that only the current Stanley Cup Champions should be shown with the Cup. What's next a black & white photo of George Armstrong from 1967?

September 13, 2011  09:49 AM ET

hope u all have corey crawford in your fantasy pool. biggest discount in goals.

September 13, 2011  10:07 AM ET
QUOTE(#4):

I think there should be a policy that only the current Stanley Cup Champions should be shown with the Cup. What's next a black & white photo of George Armstrong from 1967?

Heaven forbid!...

September 13, 2011  10:19 AM ET
QUOTE(#2):

and let's not forget they almost pulled off a sweet upset of the Nucks in round 1 last season

Maybe Sharp's appendix was bothering him when he missed that gimme....

September 13, 2011  11:06 AM ET

I know Stan Bowman is trying to emulate/copy Tallon's team, but bringing in more "grit" (though it seems like the right thing) isn't going to do it.

The biggest X-factor missing is Byfuglien - He wasn't simply "grit": This was a guy who effectively frustrated not only opposing top-scorers, but top defenders and goalies, as well.

This was a player who not only mucked it up, but scored some explosive clutch-goals, as well - Those kinds of "Oh my Gawd, did you see that? We needed that!" goals.

He was a latter-day Phil Esposito; but larger. There's no replacing him on this year's Hawks' squad.

And the folly of deeming him expendable (I think) was a considerable error in judgment, on behalf of Hawks management. Buff was a kind of a Swiss-Army knife player - Did a lot of things, filled many needs and gaps - And did all these things at a relatively high level.

Besides which, the stars were certainly aligned for Chicago, two seasons ago; And Bowman can't just turn to a shopping-list of OEM parts, and expect the same results. It's the intangibles. It's the chemistry. These things just can't be bought or fabricated.

September 13, 2011  11:44 AM ET
QUOTE(#8):

I know Stan Bowman is trying to emulate/copy Tallon's team, but bringing in more "grit" (though it seems like the right thing) isn't going to do it.The biggest X-factor missing is Byfuglien - He wasn't simply "grit": This was a guy who effectively frustrated not only opposing top-scorers, but top defenders and goalies, as well.This was a player who not only mucked it up, but scored some explosive clutch-goals, as well - Those kinds of "Oh my Gawd, did you see that? We needed that!" goals.He was a latter-day Phil Esposito; but larger. There's no replacing him on this year's Hawks' squad. And the folly of deeming him expendable (I think) was a considerable error in judgment, on behalf of Hawks management. Buff was a kind of a Swiss-Army knife player - Did a lot of things, filled many needs and gaps - And did all these things at a relatively high level.Besides which, the stars were certainly aligned for Chicago, two seasons ago; And Bowman can't just turn to a shopping-list of OEM parts, and expect the same results. It's the intangibles. It's the chemistry. These things just can't be bought or fabricated.

I like Buf also but he was and always will be a player that does not live up to his talent. When he was just recently arrested the guy weighed almost 300 lbs, thats 60 lbs over his playing weight. He had a good playoff run for us but that was all he did, he started off hot for Atlanta and then disappeared. This is all he ever will be.

September 13, 2011  12:02 PM ET
QUOTE(#9):

...he started off hot for Atlanta and then disappeared.

Awww, heck...He was moved back to defense, fer pete's sake.

Tell me the names of two/three (any??) other players in the whole league whom you could just flip back to a blue-line role, without expecting a drop-off.

As for his weight...Yeah, well. He's big to start with. But, he definitely let himself go, this off-season.

Regardless. We're talking 'bout Buff from two playoffs ago. He was the glue and the be-all and end-all for that team.

Take him out of the equation (tangling with Jumbo Joe, messing with Luongo and getting into his head, neutralizing Pronger, scoring the GWG's he did...) and the Hawks don't stand nearly as good a chance as they did.

Granted, players like Versteeg and Keith and Niemi were instrumental (nevermind Toews and Kane) - But, Buff was pure money and put the team over the top.

...And Stan Bowman's "replacing" a player like him with ""grit" just ain't gonna cut it.

September 13, 2011  12:43 PM ET
QUOTE(#10):

Take him out of the equation (tangling with Jumbo Joe, messing with Luongo and getting into his head, neutralizing Pronger, scoring the GWG's he did...) and the Hawks don't stand nearly as good a chance as they did.

In a nutshell.....

Especially the messing with Robooby thing.

September 13, 2011  04:28 PM ET
QUOTE(#4):

I think there should be a policy that only the current Stanley Cup Champions should be shown with the Cup. What's next a black & white photo of George Armstrong from 1967?

That's the guy who landed on the moon, right?
Sounds about as close as the Leafs will get to it again...Or they could just head down the street to the HHOF.

September 13, 2011  04:47 PM ET
QUOTE(#12):

That's the guy who landed on the moon, right?

Sounds about as close as the Leafs will get to it again...Or they could just head down the street to the HHOF.

"That's one small step for a man and one giant (impossible) leap for the Leafs."

September 13, 2011  06:24 PM ET
QUOTE(#1):

Remind me again who'll play in the nets for them? That might make a difference between this team and the one that won the Cup.

niemi was a rookie benefitting from a good defense,he barely beat out crawford that year.crawford more than held his own last year,well be fine and will make a cup run again this year.

September 14, 2011  08:39 AM ET
QUOTE(#1):

Remind me again who'll play in the nets for them? That might make a difference between this team and the one that won the Cup.

Crawford is a big upgrade in net over Niemi. The Blackhawks won the cup despite Niemi, not because of him. He benefitted from playing behind one of the best puck-controlling defenses in recent memory. Compare their save pcts. - it's not even close.

Despite what this article might suggest, the Blackhawks aren't nearly as deep or talented as they were two years ago. They keep jettisoning key contributors, and replacing them with low-cost alternatives. Hopefully they'll challenge for the cup again, but this is not the team of two years ago.

 
September 14, 2011  01:24 PM ET

This T&R is merely speculation. Good potential but I am concerned that our depth is not all that it is made out to be. I echo the sentiment on Crawford. He has earned his shot and deserves to be our #1.

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