The long Blackhawks off-season is almost over with the start of training camp a little more than three weeks away.
"I think I've been in the gym too long," center Dave Bolland said Monday. "It's been a long summer, but (the season) is coming real quick. I'm sick of seeing (strength and conditioning coach) Paul Goodman. I'm ready to get back on the ice."
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Training camp can't get here soon enough for the retooled Hawks, who are eager to regain their place among the NHL's elite teams.
The Hockey News already has picked the Hawks to win the Central Division and advance to the Stanley Cup Finals.
General manager Stan Bowman expects his well-rested team to hit the ground running, unlike last fall when the dramatic roster turnover following the 2010 Cup win affected the chemistry on the ice and in the dressing room.
There were more significant changes this summer, but the difference is the players brought in -- such as Andrew Brunette, Steve Montador, Sean O'Donnell, Daniel Carcillo and Jamal Mayers -- are experienced veterans who are all about team success.
"I think the group is going to hopefully jell quicker than we did last year," Bowman said. "We had some obstacles that way in terms of not really being able to come together as quickly as we wanted.
"But some of the new players have already formed some pretty good bonds just over the summer, and a few of our existing players said they really like the personalities of these guys.
"It's a nice mixture of guys added to the ones that have been here a long time. I think it's going to give us a little bit more of a balance in our group and a little bit of excitement. I think we maybe missed that before."
Nobody comes with a bigger personality than Carcillo, who already has demonstrated his commitment to the Indian head by throwing himself in the middle of the rivalry with the Vancouver Canucks with some of his comments.
"I like it," Bolland said. "It's great to see. I think he's going to be a great acquisition for us with his grit, his speed, getting in on the forecheck, his hitting and fighting.
"I think he's going to help us down the road to another Stanley Cup."
The Hawks now have two of the better agitators in the league in Bolland and Carcillo.
"He's got the capabilities of uniting a group," Bowman said of Carcillo. "A lot of people say the same thing about Bolland. People on other teams aren't big fans of Dave Bolland either, but we love him here in Chicago. You need a little bit of that personality."
Bolland and Carcillo might not have tangled much on the NHL level, but they are no strangers to battling each other.
"I played against him in juniors so me and him would always go at it," Bolland said. "I was in London and he was in Sarnia, and it was a lot of fun. He's a guy who knows his role and knows his job and is going to be great for us. We're looking forward to it."
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