As training camp approaches and fan frenzy reaches another high, the Chicago Blackhawks enter this season with more to prove than they did a season ago.
It was the fall of 2009 and the voices were pretty clear about the disgust towards the goaltending options. The offseason acquisition of Marian Hossa undoubtedly wouldn't distract critics as he would miss basically the first two months of the season and the defense wasn't as solidified as it is entering this season.
The Hawks basically buried the cynics before Hossa even started a game by starting 15-5-2 and propelling the team as playoff contenders to conference front-runners.
Now the Blackhawks enter as defending Stanley Cup Champions and no other title provides more "creative" criticism from both loyal followers and spiteful haters.
With a highly talented "core", an unproven list of role players, and a new goaltender, the Blackhawks once again have much to prove. The offseason was one of disassembling and rebuilding in such a way that someone would think the team just finished a sub-.500 season.
After one looks at the top six forwards and top four defenseman, how can this team be frowned upon?
With a championship title in hand and great leadership at the helm in Jonathan Toews, the still youthful Blackhawks remain atop the cream of the crop.