As Blackhawks management and players met the media for the last time this spring Wednesday at the UC, they were certainly coy about their off-season plans.
That part wasn't astonishing, as the Hawks aren't about to reveal their strategy for the summer.
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What was mildly surprising is the Hawks believe their lack of size and grit isn't an impediment to winning in a Western Conference dominated by big teams that hit hard and play a tight-checking game.
It's not exactly groundbreaking philosophy. It's really as old as the game itself.
But in the highflying hockey played since the lockout, it's something of a return to the game the way most GMs and coaches have tried to build their teams for decades.
GM Stan Bowman said that doesn't mean the Hawks will do much to alter their core or their style of play, which is more of a wide-open, fast-skating, puck-possession game.
It's also one that didn't work against Phoenix, though the Hawks will argue that a hot goalie is the main reason they're watching the rest of the postseason on TV.
"It's hard to say that's where the league is going in general. It really is something that changes from year to year or every couple years. Styles change," Bowman said. "You can't be too reactive to what other teams do. You have to look at your strengths and play to what your strengths are.
"We have a lot of talented players on this team, offensive players, so you don't want to take away from that. That's the strength of this team.
"Getting them to be more committed to playing responsible hockey and not giving up too many opportunities is something we have to focus on as a group. Not just the goaltender or the defense, but a strong team defensive game."
Asked if the Hawks would like to get bigger on defense, Bowman left the door ajar.
"We're open to anything," he said. "We don't want to be sitting here not playing beyond the first round of the playoffs next year, and if that entails bringing in different types of players, we're open to that.
"We do have talented forwards. They like to play with the puck as opposed to chasing the puck down, and Johnny Oduya complemented that.
"If you throw in Nick Leddy, Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook, we have four defensemen there and that's really a strength of their game, so if we were to find another player that could add some size but also complement those players, that would be someone we would be very interested in."
Bowman made it sound as though he'd like to keep Oduya, who made $4 million last season and is an unrestricted free agent.
"Johnny played great for us,'' Bowman said. "He came in at a time when our team needed some experience and veteran presence and ate up some minutes.
"We're very interested in continuing to talk to his (agents) about where he fits in next year."
As for the core, and the players who helped win a Stanley Cup two years ago, don't look for major changes.
In that sense, Bowman would have a difficult time changing the way the Hawks play the game without trading a major cog in the machine, or perhaps several parts of it.
The Hawks are small, fast, skilled and like to skate with the puck, and they won a Cup that way, but because of the cap problems they encountered, they also lack the depth of skill through four lines they had a couple years ago.
They could add size and grit to both the offense and defense without wholesale changes, and give the club more versatility to play against physical teams like Nashville, St. Louis and Los Angeles.
Especially on defense, it was a big problem against Phoenix, though coach Joel Quenneville doesn't agree with the premise.
"You could say physically maybe our defense got pounded more than theirs, but our defense moved the puck well and enhanced our puck possession game," Quenneville said. "Our defense is not as big or as physical as theirs, but it doesn't mean they weren't as effective in different ways.''
But Quenneville, like Bowman, is open to suggestions.
"You could have a lot of different discussions about philosophies, and that would be a good discussion to have,'' Quenneville said. "You have a nice core here that gives you a chance every year to win a championship.
"Is it a tweak or a little more than that? It's something that would be good to talk about."
While not saying a lot Wednesday, just before he left the press room Quenneville offered a glimpse into his locker room -- and the Hawks' summer plans.
"Team chemistry is something going forward that should be a priority, where everyone is pulling and pushing together and is going to make us stronger,'' Quenneville said. "That's got to be an ingredient besides just skill, hard work and talent.''
In that case, a few words said a lot.
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