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Blackhawks stars get the message from team brass

Hawks forwards Patrick Sharp Jonathan Toews Patrick Kane would welcome additimajor free agent. | Tom Cruze~For Sun-Times Media

Hawks forwards Patrick Sharp, Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane would welcome the addition of a major free agent. | Tom Cruze~For Sun-Times Media

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Updated: September 11, 2012 10:08PM



The Blackhawks already had their stars. They already had their Olympians, award winners and players with big contracts.

But the organization still went after wing Zach Parise and defenseman Ryan Suter in free agency.

It was more than apparent that the team was willing to add to or alter what forwards Jonathan Toews, Patrick Sharp, Patrick Kane and Marian Hossa and defensemen Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook mean to the Hawks on and off the ice.

Things could have changed for all of them if just one of those players were added. It undoubtedly would have affected minutes and responsibilities and could have possibly led to other personnel changes down the road, considering the money needed to sign each.

So what did the Hawks’ stars think about the team’s pursuit of Parise and Suter?

“It just shows the same thing that we’ve shown for the last four years,” Toews said. “We want to win. We were competitive with the team we had in 2010. We won the Stanley Cup.

“I think it’s very evident that not only the players in the locker room, but everyone across the organization, that everyone wants to get back there. It’s not shocking by any means that we’re trying to do things like that.”

Everyone agreed.

Keith said that’s “what you want in an owner,” and they all said they weren’t so much bothered by the pursuit of Parise and Suter as they were encouraged by it.

“The way I look at it is that [general manager Stan Bowman is] trying to make our team better every way he can,” Seabrook said. “It shows us that he wants to win, and he’s doing everything he can to get that done.”

The Hawks weren’t afraid to give Parise, the former captain, All-Star and U.S. Olympian from the New Jersey Devils, a long-term contract around $100 million. There is a message in that, Sharp said.

“The message to me is that the Blackhawks are unsatisfied with what’s happened the last couple of years,” Sharp said. “They’re always going to do whatever they can to put the Hawks in the best position to win, whether that’s throwing money at free agents or drafting well.”

Some Hawks were even directly involved in the pursuit. The Hawks’ biggest push was for Parise, who signed an identical 13-year, $98 million contract as Suter with the Minnesota Wild. Kane and Toews both made pitches to him.

“I talked to Zach,” said Kane, who played with Parise in the Olympics. “It didn’t work out. The biggest thing you want as a player is to see that your team is trying to make some moves, and it looks like we really did that with some of the top-end free agents. That’s exciting.”

Toews, who is family friends with Parise after going to the same high school and college, exchanged texts with him.

“I think a guy like Zach Parise definitely would have helped our team,” Toews said. “But as we always say ... we always feel confident and happy and excited with the group we already have in that locker room. We always tell ourselves that we don’t need to make changes to go out there and win.

“Whether our management and our organization thinks that’s something we need, that’s up to them. We just have to keep moving forward and do what we what we do as hockey players.”

The Hawks’ only changes so far are the additions of defenseman Sheldon Brookbank and assistant coach Jamie Kompon. But the stars all voiced confidence in themselves and the young players who will get a chance to fill roles.

“We have a good group here,” Keith said. “No matter who is in the room, it’s always up to the players to get the job done.”



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