Quenneville expects Hawks in Cup chase

PITTSBURGH -- Chicago Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville thinks he has the team to compete for the Stanley Cup even before trade season and free agency shift into high gear. And he’s emboldened by the fact the No. 8 seed in the Western Conference just won the Stanley Cup.

“We saw what happened this year,” Quenneville said at the NHL draft on Friday. “I think the league has never been tighter, never been more competitive. The parity is evident. It’s amazing how tight it is.”

Besides potential roster changes this summer, he thinks his team needs to do one simple thing to advance further than the first round: compete.

“We have to find ways to recapture that [2010] excitement,” Quenneville said. “We have to be competitive, more than we’ve ever been. We exited [the season] knowing we have to be more competitive.”

Quenneville thinks the re-signing of Johnny Oduya will help the depth on defense. The Hawks have relied on their top guys to play heavy minutes for several years.

“We want three pairs you can roll out there and if you can roll them against all four lines than you’re in perfect shape,” he said. “Hopefully there is some balance and some more shared minutes. In a perfect world hopefully that happens.”

There’s little doubt finding more rest for workhorse Duncan Keith can only help the Hawks.

“Duncs does play more some nights than others,” Quenneville said. “If we did have a little more balance there that could be an objective or maybe we can cut him back a little bit.”

Quenneville addressed other pressing matters:

  • On the search for an assistant coach to replace Mike Haviland: “It’s progressing. We’re still not there yet but it will get done soon. I’ve talked to a few guys. There’s a lot of guys interested. There’s a long list but that’s where we’re at.”

  • On Patrick Kane's public partying in Madison, Wisc. “It’s been addressed and that’s where we’re at… We should watch how we handle ourselves.”

  • On if Marian Hossa, who suffered a head injury in the playoffs, will be ready for training camp: “The Hossa news is encouraging.”