On a Saturday night in October, the United Center will be something to behold. It will be the night that the Chicago Blackhawks face the Detroit Red Wings, their hated foe. It's also the night that the Division Champion, Western Conference Champion, and of course Stanley Cup Champion banners will be raised to the rafters to thunderous applause.
It will be a sight to see.
It will be an exciting time in Chicago as the Bears will be rolling in their season and the White Sox could possibly be playing for a trophy themselves.
Once the nostalgia and celebration of the triumph of last season is over, the puck will drop. The team that was last seen in Philadelphia in June for the most part will not be wearing the "Indian Head."
It will be strange for some, as many fans have invested good money in number No. 33 and No. 32 jerseys representing departed players Dustin Byfuglien and Kris Versteeg among others. Will those fans take to the new players and embrace them as players that can measure up to the likes of Andrew Ladd and Brent Sopel?
For the answer, fans can simply recall that the stars that have been so revered were not loved until the successes on the ice during the past two years. The old adage "winning cures all ills" is true of the Blackhawks' situation.
If new Blackhawks such as Marty Reasoner and Jay Scott play with the intensity and passion of their predecessors (and of course win), they will command the same admiration.
Others who have come through the Blackhawks organization like Jake Dowell, Jack Skille, and Kyle Beach can do what other Hawks' products Niklas Hjalmarsson and Antti Niemi did, and that is simply produce.
Perhaps a young player like Shawn Lalonde or Mathis Olimb will step up into a fourth line roll, and work his way to the top much like Dave Bolland and Troy Brouwer did.
As of now there are only twelve or thirteen members of the championship squad that will be on the team in the fall. It will be somewhat strange on November 6th when the Blackhawks face off against Dustin Byfuglien, Andrew Ladd, and Brent Sopel along with coach John Torchetti in Atlanta.
I am somewhat glad that we are spared the Thrashers presence in the United Center this season, as it would be hard to stomach Big Buff camping out in front of Niemi or whoever is in net, let alone lighting the lamp once, twice, or maybe three times.
It is the nature of professional sports, and a super team of high-profile players has become very hard to keep together (cough, Miami Heat). The Blackhawks have arguably four of the top 30 players in the NHL in Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane, Brent Seabrook and Norris Trophy Winner Duncan Keith, which is something to keep in mind.
Along with big-contract "superstars" Brian Campbell and Marian Hossa, these players show that the Blackhawks still have the name power aligned with this new young hockey club.
What will the end result of this offseason's cost-cutting maneuvers be? Some think that an underwhelming early playoff exit is in order. Others think that the young players will follow the guys who have been to the mountain top and will bring another parade to town.
Time will tell, but until then the Blackhawks and their fans can enjoy the team's first Stanley Cup in 49 years.
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