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posted: 1/13/2010 12:01 AM

Wirtz believes window to win isn't small at all for this team

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  • Anaheim all-star defenseman Scott Niedermayer (27) could be a prime target for playoff teams at the trade deadline if the Ducks can't get things going in the right direction.

    Anaheim all-star defenseman Scott Niedermayer (27) could be a prime target for playoff teams at the trade deadline if the Ducks can't get things going in the right direction.
    Associated Press


Let's get something straight here.

Don't believe everything you read in certain places about the Blackhawks having only a small window of opportunity to win the Stanley Cup this season before the team gets blown up because of salary cap issues.

That's just not true.

While there are going to be some difficult financial decisions to make this summer, the Hawks will be Cup contenders for a lot of years even if the roster for 2010-11 isn't as deep as it is now.

Duncan Keith, Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane, Marian Hossa, Brian Campbell, Kris Versteeg and Dave Bolland all are signed long term, and there's not a general manager in the NHL who wouldn't love to have that for a nucleus.

Cristobal Huet is signed for two more years while Patrick Sharp, Brent Seabrook and Dustin Byfuglien are locked up through next season.

"It's not a one-shot wonder here," said Hawks chairman Rocky Wirtz, who has delivered on every promise he made since taking over the team in 2007. "That's why we committed to this nucleus. Sure, we've got some decisions to make, but we'll make those depending on how the year goes."

You don't think general manager Stan Bowman and team president John McDonough have a plan for keeping as much of this team together as possible? And this organization has done nothing in the last three years to lead anyone to think the Hawks aren't going to remain an elite team.

"I don't want to be a prognosticator or be concerned with too much about anything more than this year," McDonough said. "We're going to do everything we can to achieve that consistent excellent. I don't want this to be a comet where people say, 'Hey remember when the Blackhawks came back?'

"No, I don't agree that there's a very short window here. Stan has come in a done a very good job in the face of a lot of people saying it's probably going to be impossible to sign those three young players (Keith, Toews and Kane). He was able to do that.

"There's probably going to be challenges going forward, but we're unwavering in what our goal is."

And that goal is to win the Stanley Cup, either this season or down the road.

No deals

Calgary GM Darryl Sutter said he is not looking to trade defenseman Dion Phaneuf.

Flyers GM Paul Holmgren made a similar denial regarding center Jeff Carter.

"I don't know where all these rumors are coming from, but we are not trading him," Holmgren told

There have been trade rumors about Phaneuf ever since he had an argument with coach Brent Sutter last month.

"Everything is false," Darryl Sutter said of the Phaneuf rumors. "We've worked really hard at building a top defense in the league and our intention is to keep them, so that's just from somebody who didn't have anything to do on that day."

Around the rinks

• Bruins center Marc Savard will be sidelined for two to three weeks with a knee sprain suffered against the Hawks last week when he got tangled up with Jonathan Toews along the boards.

• While the Red Wings got Henrik Zetterberg and Dan Cleary back from their injuries, Tomas Holmstrom will miss the next month after breaking his foot during practice on a tip-in drill.

• Veteran New Jersey Devils winger Jamie Langenbrunner was named captain of the U.S. Olympic team.

• The defending Stanley Cup champion Pittsburgh Penguins are 3-7-0 in their last 10 games and are losing ground to New Jersey in the Atlantic Division.

The list

Five players who might be the most sought-after commodities leading up to the March 3 trade deadline.

1. Scott Niedermayer, Anaheim

Watch Vancouver make a serious run at the all-star defenseman if the Ducks don't get back into a playoff spot soon.

2. Martin Biron, Islanders

A lot of teams need goalie insurance, and Biron would provide it. Washington and Philadelphia could be landing spots.

3. Ray Whitney, Carolina

The gritty forward will be an unrestricted free agent and teams are lining up to get him.

4. Sheldon Souray, Edmonton

The Oilers are ready to call it a season and move some veterans, but Souray has a no-trade clause and only wants to play on the West Coast. So watch the Kings, Coyotes and Sharks here.

5. Keith Tkachuk, St. Louis

The old warhorse still gets it done around the net and could help a contender.

Ex-Hawk of the week

It has been a mediocre season in Montreal, but defenseman Jaroslav Spacek has been a consistent contributor on defense. Spacek averages almost 23 minutes of ice time and was plus-6 with 12 points in 45 games.