The Blackhawks began their fan annual convention Friday at the Hilton Chicago with plenty to be upbeat about, but also a lot of uncertainty.
The team is six weeks removed from losing in the Western Conference Finals to the L.A. Kings, but the future is set with new contracts for Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews this week. Each player signed identical eight-year, $84 million contract extensions that kick in for the 2015-16 season.
"I'm happy for them," said forward Bryan Bickell, who signed his own extension last summer. "Since these guys came in the league, they're A-class, and for those two guys to do what they do day in and day out and to wear that jersey on their chest, it's first class and they deserve it."
New Blackhawks center Brad Richards says the team's recent success, and Toews and Kane locked in longterm will only help recruit better players.
"Detroit, Colorado, teams like that were getting all the free agents because they were winning and they were relevant every year, and you see what they are doing here -- and whatever they're doing, it's working," Richards said.
But it's not all fun and games in Blackhawks land. The team is over the salary cap, meaning someone probably has to go. Defenseman Johnny Oduya and forward Patrick Sharp have been the names bandied about most in trade rumors.
"I've been here long enough to realize what could happen and not happen, but as for now, I'm a Chicago Blackhawk," Oduya said.
"If you start worrying about it and start paying attention to all the speculation and rumors, you're going to drive yourself crazy," Sharp said.
The fan convention runs through Sunday.