It was a wild ride for the Chicago Blackhawks and their fans as they captured their first Stanley Cup in 49 years.
However, after winning the cup, Hawks brass had to part ways with many fan favorites and integral parts of their championship team.
Although the Blackhawks have gone through a tremendous amount of changes this offseason, they are the reigning Stanley Cup Champions and are the team with the target on their back around the NHL and especially in the Western Conference.
With training camps starting up in only a month and a half, I have decided to compile a list of five teams who I believe can, and will be threats to the Blackhawks.
The surprise of the 2009-2010 season, the Phoenix Coyotes came out of nowhere to take the fourth seed in the west.
The player who had biggest impact on their strong 2009-2010 season was their goaltender Ilya Bryzgalov, who posted career highs in wins, GAA, and save percentage.
Although many see the Coyotes rise to the playoffs as a bit of a fluke, I think they are here to stay.
With the addition of veteran winger Ray Whitney and having winger Wojtek Wolski for a full season, I do not see the Coyotes taking a step back.
Rather, I see the Coyotes taking another step forward and becoming a solid contender against the Blackhawks in the West.
Los Angeles Kings
The Los Angeles Kings had a Blackhawk-ian (yes I made that up) rise from the cellar of the Western Conference to become a playoff contender.
The Kings built their team for long term success, much like the Blackhawks, from the blueline forward, with the likes of Drew Doughty and Jack Johnson leading the way.
Even with the Kings unable to land Ilya Kovalchuk, they still are in position to continue their rise in the west with their offense lead by Anze Kopitar, Dustin Brown, and Ryan Smyth.
Expect the Kings to challenge the Sharks and Coyotes in the Pacific and for the Western Conference crown come the playoffs.
Detroit Red Wings
Riddled with injuries last season, the Detroit Red Wings struggled throughout most of the year, until they were able to right the ship and finish fifth in the West last season.
In the offseason, the the Red Wings have not made to many moves except for re-signing Jiri Hudler, who had left for the KHL, and are reported to be in pursuit of veteran Mike Modano.
However, without any major changes coming to the Detroit lineup and a team that will presumably be healthier this season, you can count on the Wings being in the thick of things come playoffs.
Last season the Vancouver Canucks had a season much like the previous one, full of high hopes and Stanley Cup dreams only to have them dashed by the Chicago Blackhawks in the second round of the playoffs.
They did however walk away with a little hardware last season as Canucks forward Henrik Sedin walked away with the Hart Trophy and Art Ross Trophy.
This offseason the Canucks made improving their defense a major point and did so by adding the likes of Dan Hamhuis and Keith Ballard.
With the addition of Hamhuis and Ballard along with the Canucks already deep offense, the Canucks will again challenge for the top spot in the West and possibly could finally have their shot at Western Conference crown.
San Jose Sharks
Yes I know the Sharks, once again, after being first in the Western Conference and being prohibitive favorites headed in the playoffs, could not seal the deal, falling to the Blackhawks in the Western Conference Finals.
The Sharks did lose Rob Blake to retirement and Evegni Nabakov to the KHL, but with the addition of Antero Nittymaki the goaltending void should be filled adequately.
With their offensive firepower of Joe Pavelski, Dany Heatley, Patrick Marleau, Joe Thornton, and solid defense the Sharks will once again make noise in the West.
If you couple the Sharks' strong offense with their more than solid defense, I could see the Sharks as being the Blackhawks biggest threat in the west.
And quite possibly have their best chance at getting to the Stanley Cup to date.