A dy­nasty in the mak­ing

Los Angeles Times - - SPORTS - He­lene.el­liott@latimes.com Twit­ter: @he­le­nenothe­len HE­LENE EL­LIOTT

Black­hawks have another Stan­ley Cup, but have work to do in the sum­mer, says He­lene El­liott.

CHICAGO — The Black­hawks’ jour­ney to their third Stan­ley Cup cham­pi­onship in six sea­sons ended Mon­day with a bois­ter­ous cel­e­bra­tion on the ice at the United Cen­ter fol­lowed by fes­tiv­i­ties that spilled into the wee hours Tues­day morn­ing, leak­ing dis­tinc­tive aro­mas of cigar smoke and cham­pagne into the hall­way out­side the locker room.

Their jour­ney back to the top be­gan not with train­ing camp last Septem­ber but on that ice early last June, when they stood in stunned si­lence af­ter the Kings beat them in overtime of Game 7 of the Western Con­fer­ence fi­nals.

“I think the guys re­mem­ber last year, how im­por­tant it is to find a way,” Chicago Coach Joel Quen­neville said Mon­day. “It shows you the com­pet­i­tive­ness of our group, how tough it re­ally is to get back to where we were.”

They got back be­cause of the work and ma­tu­rity of a re­mark­able core group and be­cause Gen­eral Man­ager Stan Bow­man made some smart calls to ac­quire el­e­ments that com­ple­mented those top-tier play­ers.

Bow­man, son of leg­endary coach and club ad­vi­sor Scotty Bow­man, gave the team depth and in­creas­ingly valu­able speed. The one cer­tain im­pact of this Fi­nal will be that NHL gen­eral man­agers will covet the speed the Black­hawks and Tampa Bay Light­ning dis­played in their fast­paced se­ries.

The six games were low-scor­ing be­cause the teams’ skills and strengths matched so well, not be­cause of neg­a­tive tac­tics. If fans are lucky, that pace will be copied through­out the league.

Main­tain­ing that ex­cel- lence is Bow­man’s next task.

Salary-cap prob­lems forced him to mas­sively re­vamp the ros­ter soon af­ter the Black­hawks’ 2010 tri­umph, and they were elim­i­nated in the first round of the play­offs in 2011 and 2012 be­fore they won again in 2013.

He won’t have to ax half the ros­ter this time but he will have to rely on younger, cheaper play­ers and con­tin­ued player de­vel­op­ment. While on the ice Mon­day, Bow­man said he had a plan in place to make all the math work next sea­son, when long-term ex­ten­sions for Jonathan Toews and Pa­trick Kane will kick in.

“We’ll try to en­joy this for a lit­tle while, but we’ll get it done, we al­ways do,” he said. “Ob­vi­ously, I’ve been think­ing about that as well, but we’re try­ing to en­joy this win as well.”

Are the Black­hawks a dy­nasty? They and the Kings have won five of the last six cham­pi­onships, start­ing with Chicago in 2010. Since the Bos­ton Bru­ins won in 2011, the Kings (2012 and 2014) and Black­hawks (2013 and 2015) have al­ter­nated as cham­pi­ons.

The Kings, un­able to score and de­pleted by the phys­i­cal style they played dur­ing three long play­off runs, missed the play­offs this sea­son, so there was no show­down be­tween the teams that are as close to be­ing dy­nas­ties as pos­si­ble un­der the par­ity-pro­mot­ing salary-cap sys­tem. The Black­hawks prob­a­bly are closer to that des­ig­na­tion be­cause of their third ti­tle.

“Kind of thought I’d get asked that ques­tion,” Bow­man said. “I don’t think that’s re­ally for me to say. That’s re­ally for other peo­ple to make those pro­cla- ma­tions.

“All I know is that we’ve got an amaz­ing group here, they’ve ac­com­plished a lot to­gether, and I’m re­ally proud of the ef­fort they’ve given year af­ter year. It doesn’t al­ways go your way but they’ve ac­com­plished quite a bit and we’re not fin­ished.”

There are many rea­sons to be­lieve he’s right. Toews, a three-time Cup win­ner and two-time Olympic gold medal­ist, is only 27. Kane, a three-time Cup win­ner and Olympic sil­ver medal­ist, will be 27 in Novem­ber. Stand­out de­fense­man Nik­las Hjal­mars­son, a fear­less shot-blocker, just hit 28. De­fense­man Trevor van Riems­dyk, 23, and for­ward Teuvo Ter­a­vainen, not yet 21, are primed for big­ger roles. Winger Bran­don Saad, 22, might draw of­fer sheets as a re­stricted free agent but Bow­man in­tends to keep him.

“It’s in­cred­i­ble to be part of such a great team and to be able to have these ex­pe­ri­ences and be com­fort­able out here,” Saad said. “Keep ’em com­ing.”

The Black­hawks just might do that. “It’s in­cred­i­ble,” Toews said. “It gets bet­ter ev­ery time and to win again in our own city, in front of our own fans, it’s crazy. I think it’s what ev­ery­one wanted. It’s what ev­ery­one was hop­ing for.”

‘All I know is that we’ve got an amaz­ing group here, they’ve ac­com­plished a lot to­gether, and I’m re­ally proud of the ef­fort they’ve given year af­ter year.’

— STAN BOW­MAN, Chicago gen­eral man­ager

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