The emerging theme from Chicago Blackhawks' players as they gathered for the opening of their annual fan convention is that the organization’s offseason acquisitions give the team back something it had lost.
“I’ll never say anything bad about our locker room last year, but we definitely wanted to add some of that charisma, that personality and I think a noisy locker room and energetic one is better than one that is the opposite,” captain Jonathan Toews said. “With the changes we made the previous summer, when you lose guys like Adam Burish and Kris Versteeg and Dustin Byfuglien for some of our role players, those are big shoes to fill.”
Toews and his teammates believe guys like Carcillo can provide that “personality.” Even big John Scott says he can delegate some duties.
“This offseason I haven’t focused on fighting because I don’t think I’ll be doing it. Or if I’m doing it, I won’t be doing it as much," he said. “I’ll let (Carcillo) go do his thing. He can mess things up. I’m excited for that. That’s what we didn’t have last year. No one started stuff, no one started scrums or got underneath other teams’ skins. I’m going to say ‘go for it. I’m going to be there to back you up.’”
Other players echoed what coach Joel Quenneville said all last season: it was too quiet in the locker room.
But what about the subtractions on the ice? Brian Campbell and Chris Campoli represented a good portion of the Hawks’ puck-moving game on the blue line while Troy Brouwer and even Tomas Kopecky were decent skaters with and without the puck up front. The Hawks got slower with some additions, such as O’Donnell, Andrew Brunette and Mayers.
“Whatever we lost, we gained in other areas,” Patrick Sharp said. “I have full trust in Joel and Stan (Bowman) and John McDonough and everyone that has a hand in making those decisions.”
And that’s the crux of what the Hawks believe. They subtracted in certain areas where they were “redundant” but found a better mix of players to fill the spots where they were deficient, on and off the ice.
“You just can't put the best 12 players on the ice at all times because they are the most skilled,” Patrick Kane said recently. “You need certain players for certain roles.”
And those role players do more than just cause havoc. They take the attention away from the goal scorers.
“The tougher and feistier you are helps the skilled guys, definitely,” Sharp said.
The Hawks are on board with the changes but if their speedy puck-possession game takes a hit, then all the toughness in the world might not be enough to get them where they want to go.