Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville can hear the question coming already, say next November, when his team is in the middle of a slump.
“(After) winning the Cup, the question is going to be how’s that Stanley Cup hangover?” Quenneville said. “But we’ve dealt with that before in the past.”
The Hawks dealt with the Stanley Cup hangover questions in 2010-11 after losing half the team for salary cap reasons, but they still made the playoffs before dropping Game 7 to Vancouver in overtime in the first round.
This time they’ve lost only Dave Bolland, Viktor Stalberg, Ray Emery and Michael Frolik, so the Hawks feel they are ahead of the game in that regard.
Captain Jonathan Toews hated to see teammates such as Bolland and Frolik go, but he thinks there is plenty of talent still here to make another run at the Cup.
“You never want to see guys go and you’re always going to have that bond with guys you won a Stanley Cup with, but we’re very happy things pretty much stayed intact,” Toews said. “I think it’s going to help us carry our energy and our confidence into next year.”
Quennville thinks the preparation for 2013-14 won’t differ greatly from last season.
“Going into this year will be comparable to how we started last year,” Quenneville said. “You want to make sure your depth is important and valuable throughout the year, use everybody and try to get off to the right start.”
It’s going to be a different kind of season in 2013-14 — a full 82-game schedule awaits along with the Sochi Olympics in Russia in February. The Hawks also will be playing in a new division along with St. Louis, Colorado, Dallas, Winnipeg, Nashville and Minnesota, where they must finish in the top three to make the playoffs. There also will be two wild-card teams qualifying for the postseason.
“It’s going to be an interesting year with a lot of new things going into the season with the new realignment and all that,” Quenneville said. “There are a lot of things that are going to be happening and the schedule gets compressed again as well (because of the Olympics).”
The players are looking forward to the challenge of trying to become the first team since Detroit in 1997 and ’98 to repeat as Stanley Cup champion.
“At the end of the day we’re a group that wants to win every year,” Toews said.
With the Finals stretching into late June because of the lockout, it’s going to be a short off-season with the Hawks going to training camp in South Bend on Sept. 12.
“You’ve got to be ready and you’ve got to be fresh,” Patrick Kane said. “Whatever you can do to make sure you’re in better shape, you have to do it.”
Patrick Sharp thinks the short summer could be to the Hawks’ advantage.
“I’m not going to say it makes it easier, but it might make it more comfortable with the number of returning players we have,” Sharp said. “There’s going to be familiarity in the locker room, and hopefully we can pick up where we left off last season.”
Having been through it before also can hurt.
“It always helps when you’ve been through it before,” Sharp said. “That year after we won in 2010 was a tough one for a lot of different reasons, mainly because half the team was fresh to Chicago.
“I really like the fact that we have a lot of guys returning. Part of our success this season was it was basically the same team as last season. Let’s hope everyone comes to camp in shape and healthy.”
Getting off to a good start again will be critical, although asking for another 21-0-3 beginning to the season might be asking a lot.
“We had an amazing year from start to finish,” Quenneville said. “We didn’t know how good we were going to be when we started the season, but we accomplished a lot. At the end of the day we were where we wanted to be. Obviously, a lot of things had to go right. It was definitely a fun year.
“Looking at our team for next year, I’m excited about it. We look at the core group that was here for the first win and that group is still here and still young. The upside of this team going forward is still in place. We feel we’re going to have a strong team and look forward to getting back to where we ended the season.”Copyright © 2013 Paddock Publications, Inc. All rights reserved.