Chicago Blackhawks defenseman Johnny Oduya (27), of Sweden, hugs Chicago Blackhawks goalie Corey Crawford (50) after winning Game 6 of the NHL hockey Stanley Cup Finals 3-2 against the Boston Bruins, Monday, June 24, 2013, in Boston. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)
When the Chicago Blackhawks won the Stanley Cup in 2010, many prognosticators predicted it was the start of a dynasty.
A dynasty usually consists of winning multiple championships in a row, but the NHL is a much different league than 30 years ago when the teams like the New York Islanders and Edmonton Oilers were racking up successive Stanley Cups year after year.
Hawks fans were aghast to see many of the players who contributed mightily to that championship -- see Dustin Byfuglien, Antti Niemi and Brian Campbell -- shipped off to other teams because of financial constraints.
So there's sure to be some grumbling if and when the same thing happens this off-season. With $6 million less salary cap room available, it'll take a numbers cruncher with the deftness of Patrick Kane to try to figure out how to re-sign players like Bryan Bickell, who was an absolute beast and fan favorite during these playoffs. And you can probably forget about the 1-2 goaltending punch the team enjoyed all season, with Ray Emery likely playing his way into a starter's job somewhere else.
The final four teams left standing in the playoffs this season -- the previous four Stanley Cup champions -- were a sign that we are indeed living in a new-age NHL.
The Hawks will be hard-pressed to reel off back-to-back-to-back championships -- the uncertain nature of NHL playoff hockey makes it close to impossible -- but with a young core of players intact, it's safe to say they'll have every opportunity to contend for the next decade.
One can only imagine ever-steady Jonathan Toews continuing to get better, there's hope that a more mature Kane learned his lessons from his previous post-championship bender, and there's plenty of upside to a pretty impressive group of other young players with names like Crawford, Saad, Shaw and more.
Of course, with GM Stan Bowman and coach Joel Quenneville driving the ship, there's plenty of reason to believe the team will continue to thrill, because while it takes good players to win championships, it takes an entire franchise to sustain success. Just ask the Detroit Red Wings.
Savor the moment Chicago. It doesn't look like there will be much to cheer about on the baseball fields on either side of town this summer, which leaves an opportunity for this group of likeable players to stay in the headlines.
After all, many of these brand new Blackhawks fans who worked their way on to the bandwagon over the past few weeks haven't even seen these guys cleanly shaven.