Although they're still a day away from their first official day of training camp, the Blackhawks players reported for physicals and media day as eager as ever to begin the season.
“Everyone seems to be ready for camp. Everyone’s excited for the season,” says Patrick Kane. “The team knows the buzz is back in Chicago and we have to give them something to cheer about every night.”
“We’re very excited,” said Blackhawks GM Dale Tallon. “We’re getting better every year and we like what we added to this club. We’re excited about the opportunity to get to the playoffs. It’s time.”
The Blackhawks enter their 81st season of NHL play this year, and are coming off one of their biggest off-seasons ever. Between the signings of defenseman Brian Campbell and goalie Cristobal Huet, the inaugural Blackhawks Convention and more, excitement for the Blackhawks might never have been higher. But new team captain Jonathan Toews says that the team knows hype will only carry the Hawks so far - they're going to have to work for every win.
“I think, in a way, it’s been good that we’ve had a lot of attention this summer,” says Toews. “But I think now it’s time to live up to it – to put our money where our mouth is, and I think we’re ready to do it.”
“It’s just really exciting,” adds defenseman James Wisniewski. “We get all the guys back together, and we’re going to start training with each other and molding a winning organization."
Coach Denis Savard has 21 days, which include eight preseason games, to get his players playing like a team. Although he coaches one of the younger teams in the leagues, Savard stressed how important it is that some of the younger players begin to play like veterans.
“I really feel that what’s gone on the latter part of the season last year and the summer that we had and the acquisitions we made with the free agency, it’s time for our team to graduate,” said Savard. “The expectations have been raised. The group that we have, the players that are here - we have a bunch of winners in the locker room. We have everything we need to get the job done.”
“We’ve been making a lot of changes every year, but [this year’s] changes have been the most dramatic,” said Tallon. “It’s exciting to know the players are excited about being a part of the Chicago Blackhawks.”