Stan Bowman talked of the goals set at the start of this season, the biggest being the desire to play into June.
“We got to June 1 but obviously we all wish we had two more weeks to go,” the Blackhawks general manager said.
As disappointed as he was at the outcome, Bowman said he was proud of what the Blackhawks did in 2013-14, and he didn’t see any reason why the team, with a few tweaks here or there, couldn’t challenge for a few more Stanley Cups over the coming seasons.
Bowman spoke on several topics Tuesday, when the Blackhawks had their exit interviews following Sunday’s loss to the Los Angeles Kings. He saw the Blackhawks making some tweaks for next season – “there will be some new faces” – but staying away from massive changes.
“Our team performed very well in most areas of the game,” Bowman said. “Ways to improve would be… looking for growth from within. We’ve still got a lot of young players that play big roles on our team, and I think you saw that this year.”
To that, Bowman spoke highly of Brandon Saad and Andrew Shaw as young guys who stepped to the forefront. The two were certainly noticeable down the stretch as part of a very successful line with Patrick Kane. It also comes down to the core, which Bowman sees staying intact. Whatever changes are made, Bowman said it’s important the team not stray from its style of play, which has proven successful.
“Looking forward, we’re not going to deviate because that’s what the core of our team does well,” he said. “We’re going to try and accentuate that – whether it’s with bigger players or making a couple additions here or there. There are a lot of options.”
The second-line center topic came up once again, with Bowman saying the Blackhawks are always looking for players who can take on different roles more than anything. The Saad-Shaw-Kane line could very well start the 2014-15 season for the Blackhawks. And there’s also Teuvo Teravainen, who had a brief “audition” at the end of this season and will get a stronger look this training camp. Again, however, Bowman said they’re not putting undue pressure on the young Finn.
“I’ve got very high hopes for him, but the one thing I don’t have for him is a timeline. He doesn’t have to be in any position by any certain date,” Bowman said. “If anything, we’re going to be more cautious like we’ve been with a lot of our players – giving them time to develop. He’s a special player and he’s going to be one for a long time. You look at where he’s going to be in five years – we’re excited about that.”
The Blackhawks still have their group together. They’ll make tweaks here and there, and players like Jeremy Morin should get more of a look. But the group that’s had so much success in recent seasons will be largely intact moving forward.
“We have a lot of great things to look at next season. We’ve got the makings of a very strong team and we’ll do our best to improve in a few areas and also have some growth from within,” Bowman said. “I’m proud of the group and what they accomplished and I’m optimistic about the future.”