by Hannah Petrukovich
The Chicago Blackhawks surely didn't enjoy this past offseason as much as their previous one. After adding some much-needed toughness and depth to help their offense, they have made some major strides towards a return to the Stanley Cup finals. The Dallas Stars are relying on a rookie coach in hopes he would end their playoff drought. The task is made much harder with their leading scorer out of the picture.
Glen Gulutzan makes his NHL coaching debut as the Stars and Blackhawks kick off their seasons Friday night at American Airlines Center. He coached for two years with the Texas Stars Dallas' top minor league affiliate.
After winning its first Stanley Cup in over forty-nine years, the defending champs crept into the playoffs thanks to a Dallas loss on the final day of the 2010-11 regular season. The Hawks were ultimately eliminated by the Western Conference champions Vancouver in the first round.
Right wing Patrick Kane stated on ESPN.com "I think a lot of us have to prove that what we did two years ago wasn't really a fluke, Last year, we didn't have our best team and we almost did some damage."
Chicago general manager Stan Bowman, who is also signed for a three year contract, brought in some much needed veterans in Andrew Brunette, Jamal Mayers and Steve Montador, along with noted agitator Daniel Carcillo. They will join the core of Jonathan Toews, Kane, Patrick Sharp and Marian Hossa.
"You need to be able to change the momentum, and that's usually with guys who play a certain (physical) style," Bowman told ESPN. "That's why we've added all those players while we've kept all our top guys."
You can say the Blackhawks are excited about their new additions to the team, while the Dallas Stars are counting on new players to make the departure of Brad Richards easier. They have signed right wing Michael Ryder and defenseman Sheldon Souray.
Corey Crawford showed that he can handle the load of being a starting goalie in the National Hockey League, and Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews continued to produce as two of the best young players in the game. The Hawks finished the season scoring 258 goals, which put them third in the Western Conference.
This should be a tough opening game for Chicago, because despite missing the playoffs, Dallas won 42 games and finished with 95 points in the competitive Pacific Division.