Boden: What about 'the rest?'

Boden: What about 'the rest?'
July 24, 2013, 8:15 pm
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So it's exactly one month ago Wednesday night that the Blackhawks delivered their late one-two punch in Boston and won their second Stanley Cup in three calendar years. But it seems like all the activity since could fill up an entire offseason. A parade. Trades. The exit of a goaltending coach. Free-agent departures, and a free-agent signing. And the Stanley Cup moving at warp speed throughout North America, in and out of the hands of Blackhawks players, coaches and support staff. Then there's this weekend's annual Blackhawks Convention that almost seems like ... well ... that it's coming too soon.

Another week and it's August. Then the team announced this week that they'll actually start training camp on Sept. 12, for a four-day "bonding" session at Notre Dame before the Festival at the United Center (which usually opens camp) four days later. But wait. There's even more that'll make this offseason celebration even shorter than a rest stop for the Blackhawks' best: Olympic tryouts.

[RELATED: Saad, Leddy get their shot to make US Olympic roster]

Yes, as of now, 11 of those Cup winners will spend the better part of a week next month competing for the right to fly to Russia in the middle of next season to represent their countries. Jonathan Toews, Duncan Keith, Brent Seabrook (who's also becoming a first-time father soon), Patrick Sharp and Corey Crawford have been invited to Team Canada's camp. Same for USA invitees Patrick Kane, Nick Leddy and Brandon Saad. Niklas Hjalmarsson, Johnny Oduya and Marcus Kruger will compete to represent Sweden in Sochi.

As Marian Hossa and Michal Handzus recover from playoff injuries, you'd hope they'd earn a pass from trying out for Slovakia's roster. If not, make that 13 Cup winners on the ice next month, when they should be getting R&R. Fourteen when you toss in Michal Rozsival, who you'd think gets an invite from the Czech Republic.

Having a 48-game season rather than an 82-game grind turned out to be a break, even if it was a bit more condensed. But no team played longer than the Blackhawks in a season that lasted deeper into June. No team will "play" harder in the offseason than your Stanley Cup champs. And at least half the roster will be using some of that usual down time to try out for their country's Olympic team. That's a whole lot of time and energy that the rest of the league is storing away to fire at that target that'll be on the Hawks' back. It'll be an immense challenge -- with all those factors involved -- for this team to recharge its batteries sufficiently and repeat. Yes, I know that's exactly the kind of quandary a team wants to be in, opposed to the alternative.

[MORE: Attendee list for Hawks Convention now available]

This team has a head coach who's better than any in the NHL at knowing how to pump the brakes and drive his team wisely. But considering all these factors, should the Hawks somehow find a way to repeat -- they truly will be considered a great team.

And speaking of not pushing too hard, I'd love to see the White Sox pump the brakes on Chris Sale. While I'm certainly not an expert, I'm not in the school of thought that young starting pitchers need to go through the season-by-season process early in their careers of building up arm strength. The Sox being where they are this season, there's no need to be pushing Sale beyond about 100 pitches per start at this point. If they're not going to use him to gain prospects before next Wednesday's trade deadline, and he's the centerpiece of your rotation for years to come after signing him to a long-term contract extension last winter, they shouldn't risk injury. Especially with a motion that remains open to debate over whether he's a Tommy John surgery waiting to happen.

[RELATED: Chris Sale wanted to face Miguel Cabrera]

Robin Ventura was asked about it prior to Wednesday's game after Sale threw 119 pitches against Detroit Monday night. The Sox manager referred to varying situations, trying to win games, but at this point, the biggest win is keeping the centerpiece of their ad campaign as healthy as possible, long-term. Maybe they should even pull a "Samardzija," like the Cubs did in shutting down Jeff the final month of last season. What's there to prove? We know he's a great pitcher. The Sox do. The league does. And he has an attitude and passion the clubhouse needs: a potential leader.

The games count. But do they really, when you're 20 games under .500 and counting? Let's hope the Sox can be sold on saving Sale.

And speaking of not pushing too hard, I'd love to see the White Sox pump the brakes on Chris Sale. While I'm certainly not an expert, I'm not in the school of thought that young starting pitchers need to go through the season-by-season process early in their careers of building up arm strength. The Sox being where they are this season, there's no need to be pushing Sale beyond about 100 pitches per start at this point. If they're not going to use him to gain prospects before next Wednesday's trade deadline, and he's the centerpiece of your rotation for years to come after signing him to a long-term contract extension last winter, they shouldn't risk injury. Especially with a motion that remains open to debate over whether he's a Tommy John surgery waiting to happen.