Chicago Blackhawks Coach Pleased with Summer Moves

CHICAGO (AP) — The coach and general manager of the Chicago Blackhawks say they're pleased with the team's off-season so far.

After last summer's roster turnover, the Blackhawks went from Stanley Cup champion to slipping into the playoffs on the final day of the season.

There were a number of changes this summer. Gone are Brian Campbell, Troy Brouwer, Tomas Kopecky, Jake Dowell, Ryan Johnson, Fernando Pisani and Marty Turco, replaced by Andrew Brunette, Steve Montador, Jamal Mayers, Dan Carcillo, Sean O'Donnell, Rostislav Olesz and Alexander Salak.

Coach Joel Quenneville, who after directing the championship season saw the team eliminated in the first round of the NHL playoffs, says he likes what he is seeing.

"I like our team. I'm excited about our team," Quenneville said Monday. "I think we're better equipped going forward for all our needs. We think we have a great core, and I think the guys we brought in really complement the core.

"Their experience, their leadership and their qualities are complementary to making us a better team. I think we fulfilled our needs this year and addressed things we were looking for."

General manager Stan Bowman is equally pleased with the progress of the offseason construction, even though the effort isn't finished.

"I like the mixture we have now," Bowman said after the final day of prospects camp. "We talked about being a little different style team. Our main guys are all back, the key core offensive players and your top defensemen are back (and) your goaltender is back. We've brought new players into the mix, and we hope they can bring a different style to make us harder to play against."

Bowman says he is in negotiations with restricted free agents Chris Campoli and Michael Frolik. On Sunday, the team signed Viktor Stalberg to a two-year contract, thus avoiding arbitration.

The Blackhawks also announced an agreement Monday on a one-year contract with forward Rob Klinkhammer and a two-year deal with goaltender Alec Richards.

Quenneville says the Blackhawks will be tougher to play against. That could result in a better home record and lessen the attention stars such Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane, Patrick Sharp and Duncan Keith get from opponents.

"We've got some guys that have some edge to their game and size as well," Quenneville said. "That's something we were looking for and that can help us."

Although replacing Campbell's speed and ability to move the puck will be difficult, Quenneville indicated shedding the defenseman's $7.1 million cap hit was more important.

"You lose something with Soupy there; he definitely brings some puck-moving ability out of our back end and offensive flow," Quenneville said, using Campbell's nick-name. "You lose that element, but the economics a lot of times go into these decisions."
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