June 4, 2013; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Chicago Blackhawks defenseman Duncan Keith (2) has been suspended for one game for high-sticking Los Angeles Kings forward Jeff Carter (77) during Game 3 of the Western Conference Final at the Staples Center. Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports
2. The Hangover– No we are not talking about Mike Tyson and lions. The Blackhawks came back from their summer with Stanley in 2010-2011 with a serious hangover which almost cost them a playoff opportunity. Sure the roster was turned over by 50%, but the core was still there playing games and it took all the way to the final buzzer before the Hawks were able to sneak into the playoffs.
The numbers weren’t mind-blowing but players like Duncan Keith never were the same the following season, and it almost took Keith until this past 2013 shortened season to get back into form. Keith’s 2010 stats were 14 goals 55 assists and a +21 (and a Norris Trophy) the hangover stats were 7 goals 38 assists and a -1 (the only minus season outside of his rookie campaign)
This summer is shorter with the Olympic break pushing up the start of the season to the first of October, only time will tell if the core Blackhawks learned their lessons from 2010 to not just party all summer (although greatly deserved) but to get ready for the upcoming season.
As great as Stan Mikita and Bobby Hull were this core group of Blackhawks can do something no other core group has done in the 87 year history of the franchise. They could be the first Blackhawks team to repeat and the first core group to ever win 3 Stanley Cups in their careers. This group needs to be ready for training camp in less than a month.
The other portion of the hangover has to go to the coaching staff when it comes to players such as Michal Handzus. When it comes down to productivity and making sure all four lines are rolling, let’s not live in the past and fall into old patterns such as playing an older center with the young guys. Let the best 12 offensive skaters skate and play with a fast PACE and not be stuck in a stupor waiting for 2013 playoff magic to happen.