In 2010, it was the hope of winning a cup. The city hadn't seen a victory lap with Lord Stanley's Cup in 49 years. Finally, it was a reality.
In 2013, it was the absolute THRILL of it. The 21-0-3 record setting start that got pushed to it's limits being down 3 games to 1 against Detroit, to a spectacular finish in game 6 that erupted the city.
This year's Hawks…it was about precision and it will be remembered as the first time the Hawks won the championship at home in 77 years.
So, what happened this year?
They didn't dominate all year long. There were spurts of greatness throughout the year, but a lot of things led me to think that although the Hawks had the talent, they just might not want it as much. Then,…the playoffs started. How I was SO wrong. The mix of old and new players blended in nicely.
*Trevor van Riemsdyk (TVR) was the surprise out of camp. He played on the third pairing until he broke his patella. (Ouch!).
*Daniel Carcillo re-signed with the Hawks. Often a healthy scratch, and often confused by why he was signed by the Hawks when they had players in their system that could have taken that slot.
*Hawks get rid of a few of their top prospects for a bag of pucks.
Okay,…not literally, but what the hell did they get for Jeremy Morin, Adam Clendening and Klas Dahlback. In the Anaheim and Tampa series I wish they could have called upon Clendening or Dahlback.
* Hawks lose a sizzling hot Kris Versteeg in the Winter Classic series with a broken hand. Versteeg was near the top of the Hawks scoring list when he broke his hand. He went from that to being a healthy scratch and being scratched half of the playoff series that were played.
The turning point? Had to be when Patrick Kane fractured his clavicle allowing the Hawks to bury his cap space and get Antoine Vermette, Andrew Desjardins and Kimmo Timonen. Did the Hawks give up TOO much for Timonen? Absolutely. They gave up a second rounder for a guy that barely cracked 6 minutes a night and was sure to retire by the year's end.
Vermette the Hawks had to cough up a 1st rounder for him. The last 19 games of the regular season, it didn't look good. But WOW, did he come alive in the playoffs. Lead the Hawks in face off %, was a force in late goals and connected with Teravainen and Vermette. What a lovely trio they were to watch.
The Hawks struggled with defensive pairing in the playoffs, especially when Michal Rozsival went down in round 2 against the Minnesota Wild. It was a carrousel of players (Rundblad, Cumisky, TVR and Kimmo).
The Hawks on pure GUT won this cup. They faced a Tampa team that was pure speed. Faster than the Hawks. The "Triplets Line" was to be feared. In addition, the first line that included Alex Killorn and of course,…Steven Stamkos,…plus the savvy veteran 3rd liner Ryan O'Callahan. But, the Hawks with a combination of limiting the Lightning to good opportunities, missed opportunities by the Lightning when they did arise and the post on several occasions being the Hawks best friend, managed to hoist their 3rd cup in 5 years (6 seasons).
Everyone is aware the Hawks have to re-tool. They won't have to shed 60% of their roster like after the 2010 season, but there will be major changes partly because of Toews and Kane's enormous contract.
Okay,…who will be gone.
1) Michal Rozsival: 100% He's done.
2) Johnny Oduya: 90%. I would have said 100% until I saw how desperate the Hawks need that 4th solid defenseman. But, he is going to take too much money to keep and the Hawks need the space.
3) David Rundblad: Although he's a Stan Bowman pet project, he hasn't amounted to "shit". Let's put him at 75% only because the Hawks really wouldn't have to pay him much to retain him.
4) Daniel Carcillo: I wouldn't see any reason they'd keep him. But, hey…I didn't see why he came back either. So, what do we know? 75% he goes.
5) Bryan Bickell: I think the Hawks will TRY to unload his $4m. 65% he goes.
6) Patrick Sharp: Hate to say it, but he will be considered for the right price. 35% he goes.
7) Brent Seabrook: Hate to say this one as well,…but, money and offers will dictate this. 20% he goes.
8) Brandon Saad: Unless a repeat of S.J. loading up on an offer happens, he'll be retained. 15% he goes.
9) Marcus Kruger: He is a dependable 4th line centerman and I don't believe the Hawks will have to cough up more than $2m to keep him. 10% he goes.
The NHL is probably going to be somewhere in the $71.4m range and is that going to be enough to keep their staff?