Blackhawks GM Bowman: ‘Pieces have come into place’
BY ADAM L. JAHNS firstname.lastname@example.org July 16, 2011 9:28PM
L to R: Duncan Keith, Patrick Sharp, Brent Seabrook, Patrick Kane and Marian Hossa watch a video of last season's highlights.The Chicago Blackhawks convention opening ceremony get underway the Chicago Hilton and Towers on Friday, July 15, 2011 in Chicago. | Richard A. Chapman~Sun-Times
Updated: October 29, 2011 12:35AM
Blackhawks general manager Stan Bowman is finished. His offseason plan is complete.
So fans holding out hope that a second-line center is coming should know that defenseman Sami Lepisto was the Hawks’ final offseason addition.
“At this point, we’re pretty happy with our group,” Bowman said. “The last pieces have come into place here.”
The only possible move left for Bowman is trading the rights to defenseman Chris Campoli. If he doesn’t, Campoli, whom the Hawks couldn’t come to terms with, will become an unrestricted free agent.
But more decisions loom in September at training camp, where the Hawks will have 24 players in their mix:
Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane, Marian Hossa, Dave Bolland and Patrick Sharp will continue to lead the way up front. Michael Frolik, Viktor Stalberg and Bryan Bickell are expected to build on their experience from last season.
The team is counting on young forwards Marcus Kruger and Ben Smith to emerge as reliable players and help out at center. It’s taking a wait-and-see approach with trade acquisition Rostislav Olesz, but new guys Andrew Brunette, Jamal Mayers and Daniel Carcillo will be counted on in various capacities.
Toews said the new additions can enliven the locker room.
“That’s what we like,” Toews said. “I’ll never say anything bad about the locker room last year. I don’t want to take anything away from some of those guys. But we definitely want to add some of that charisma, that personality. A nosier locker room, an energetic one is always better than one that’s the opposite.
“Obviously, with the changes we made the previous summer, when you lose guys like Adam Burish, Kris Versteeg and Dustin Byfuglien, for some of those role players, those are big shoes to fill. Guys like Andrew Brunette and Dan Carcillo have a lot of skill, but a lot of personality and experience, too.”
The Hawks have eight players signed, with Duncan Keith, Brent Seabrook, Niklas Hjalmarsson, Nick Leddy and John Scott returning.
Veteran Steve Montador has become part of the Hawks’ future with a four-year deal. Lepisto and Sean O’Donnell, who received one-year deals, round out the group, which is already deeper than last year.
Trading Brian Campbell, though, figures to be a focal point for discussion all season.
“He’s a good guy in the locker room, that’s for sure,” Sharp said. “He’s a good friend off the ice. You guys [the media] all know what he brings to the game. He’s a great skater. He can lug that puck up the ice and make a great first pass and helps out our power play. It’s tough to see him go, but it’s tough to see all the guys go.”
It was believed the Hawks would shop for a veteran to back up Corey Crawford, but they’re sticking with rookie Alexander Salak. The duo has combined for 67 regular-season games — 65 from Crawford.
“We’re going in with Crawford in the net,” coach Joel Quenneville said. “We know we’ve got a guy that’s proven and excited about going into the year.”