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updated: 6/10/2013 6:51 PM

Blackhawks veterans dishing out advice

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  • Los Angeles Kings center Mike Richards (10) and Chicago Blackhawks defenseman Nick Leddy (8) tangle during the third period in Game 5 of the NHL hockey Stanley Cup playoffs Western Conference finals, Saturday, June 8, 2013, in Chicago.

      Los Angeles Kings center Mike Richards (10) and Chicago Blackhawks defenseman Nick Leddy (8) tangle during the third period in Game 5 of the NHL hockey Stanley Cup playoffs Western Conference finals, Saturday, June 8, 2013, in Chicago.
    Associated Press

  • Chicago Blackhawks center Michael Frolik (67) leaps as Blackhawks center Marcus Kruger (16) and Los Angeles Kings defenseman Slava Voynov (26) compete for the puck during the second period in Game 5 of the NHL hockey Stanley Cup playoffs Western Conference finals, Saturday, June 8, 2013, in Chicago.

      Chicago Blackhawks center Michael Frolik (67) leaps as Blackhawks center Marcus Kruger (16) and Los Angeles Kings defenseman Slava Voynov (26) compete for the puck during the second period in Game 5 of the NHL hockey Stanley Cup playoffs Western Conference finals, Saturday, June 8, 2013, in Chicago.
    Associated PRess

  • Chicago Blackhawks center Michael Frolik (67), of the Czech Republic, moves the puck as Los Angeles Kings defenseman Jake Muzzin (6) and goalie Jonathan Quick (32) watch during the first period of Game 4 of the NHL hockey Stanley Cup playoffs Western Conference finals in Los Angeles on Thursday, June 6, 2013.

      Chicago Blackhawks center Michael Frolik (67), of the Czech Republic, moves the puck as Los Angeles Kings defenseman Jake Muzzin (6) and goalie Jonathan Quick (32) watch during the first period of Game 4 of the NHL hockey Stanley Cup playoffs Western Conference finals in Los Angeles on Thursday, June 6, 2013.
    Associated PRess

  • Chicago Blackhawks right wing Patrick Kane (88) celebrates with his teammates after scoring a goal during the first period in Game 5 of the NHL hockey Stanley Cup playoffs Western Conference finals against the Los Angeles Kings, Saturday, June 8, 2013, in Chicago.

      Chicago Blackhawks right wing Patrick Kane (88) celebrates with his teammates after scoring a goal during the first period in Game 5 of the NHL hockey Stanley Cup playoffs Western Conference finals against the Los Angeles Kings, Saturday, June 8, 2013, in Chicago.
    Associated Press

 
 

A team with a young core.

A rabid fan base that was enjoying every moment of the resurgent Blackhawks' run through the 2010 Stanley Cup playoffs.

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While coach Joel Quenneville was enjoying the ride as well, he knew the pressure was on because after the season -- whether they won the Cup or not -- budgetary constraints meant there were going to be changes.

And lots of them.

"Well, I think we kind of knew going into that off-season to expect a different group," Quenneville said. "Almost losing half of your team the following year, it was almost like, 'Go out and get it done there,' because things change quickly."

Oh, they got it done, topping Philadelphia in six games to win the Stanley Cup.

And the celebration was huge and it lasted a good, long while.

And then, just like that, gone were familiar and beloved faces like Andrew Ladd, Dustin Byfuglien, Kris Versteeg and Antti Niemi.

And in for the following season were veteran players such as Marty Turco, John Scott, Fernando Pisani and Chris Campoli, none of whom really left a mark, other than the bruising Scott, who left plenty of marks around the league courtesy of his strong right hand.

But also quietly added to the mix were young players like Nick Leddy, Marcus Kruger and Michael Frolik, all of whom would eventually leave their mark as well.

"We had a real nice young core that we kept, and it's been a big part of the team here," Quenneville said. "We worked our way around it. I thought we had two decent years -- tough endings in the playoffs, though."

Well three years later, the core is a little older and wiser and now they're the veterans who are explaining to the kids on the team -- kids like Leddy, Andrew Shaw, Kruger, Frolik and Brandon Saad -- just what lies ahead beginning Wednesday night when the puck is dropped in Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Finals against Boston.

"They say you've just got to stay composed and stay focused," Shaw said of the advice he's received. "There's a lot of sideshows to everything and if it's family wanting to come in, media, you've got to do what you've got to do but you've got to stay focused on the game.

"They've all told stories about how unbelievable it is to win the Cup and it just makes us strive more and want to win that Cup a little bit more."

Quenneville has been enjoying the interplay between the Cup veterans -- only eight of which are left from the 2010 team -- and the youngsters looking for their first taste from the Cup.

"We certainly want them excited to be here, they should be," he said. "We have guys who have experienced this, probably on the same timeline of their careers. They can help share their experiences and show you have to prioritize on focusing on the right areas.

"There can be some distractions, but it is a fun process and you want to make sure you enjoy the process and get ready at the right times."

Other then the core group from 2010, this year's edition is a completely different squad. It's one that had a magical start to the season and wound up capturing the Presidents Trophy, and one that is now looking to return the Cup back to Chicago over the next two weeks or so.

"Our mindset as a team is excited like we were back then. Expectations are comparable," Quenneville said. "When you look at the makeup of our team, it's different than in 2010: a lot of western Canadian kids then, now a little bit of everything. We have balance in this group.

"It's a very comparable situation as far as how we got here. The excitement level is probably comparable as well. Been a real enjoyable year with the way it started and going through some ups and downs, it's all part of the process."

Comparing and contrasting this year's team to the 2010 Cup winners will be done everywhere on every medium over the coming days, something Patrick Kane is well aware of.

"For us, I think there's comparisons obviously that are always going to be made to the 2010 team," he said. "But I think for a lot of guys in here, maybe only half of the team was here when that was going on, so a lot of guys want to make their own memories from this team, and we want to make some more, too."

The kids can't wait for that process to start.

"Obviously there's a huge spotlight and a big stage, but for all the guys that this is their first time, we're all really excited," Leddy said.

And despite not having any Finals experience, Quenneville feels what the team has already gone through in this lockout-shortened season should prove invaluable for the kids on the roster.

"This year we've had some experience playing meaningful games, being exposed to a big stage," he said. "Momentum going through the playoffs, how the attention picks up and the focus becomes great on your team. The kids have handled it well. The whole group has been going in the right direction.

"It's been a very enjoyable, exciting season, but we've still got some work to do."

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