It's on you, Blackhawks players.
That’s what Stan Bowman is telling his team.
I’m not changing the roster in any big way, Bowman is telling his players and masterful coach, so it’s on you to do the big things that have become expected.
It probably always was on the players and the coach, but Bowman’s inactivity at the trade deadline erased all doubt.
I wish Bowman had acquired a No. 2 center, but then, I said that last year and they won a Stanley Cup with Michael Handzus. I’m still not sure how. I saw it like we all did, but I still don’t see how. I’m chalking it up to Joel Quenneville channeling his inner Dumbledore.
And Quenneville is expected to work the same magic with the same hole in the roster this postseason.
Bowman made only one deal close to the deadline, adding defense the way he usually does. He did not bring in Ryan Kesler. He did not deal for a top-six winger that might prompt Quenneville to move Patrick Sharp to center.
Nope, Bowman did nothing except tell his players and coach that it’s their deal and see ya in June.
“We’ve really accomplished a lot over the last couple of seasons with the group we have here,’’ Bowman said. “We’re not looking to break it apart.’’
Bowman likes his team, and why wouldn’t he? There's a lot to like when you start with one of the best players in the world in captain Jonathan Toews, a dynamic wing in Patrick Kane, a fleet, smart leader in Sharp, and one of the best two-way players in Marian Hossa.
On defense, the Hawks have the Norris Trophy leader in Duncan Keith and a terrific shutdown pair in Johnny Oduya and Niklas Hjalmarsson.
But what Bowman really seems to like is his depth. Depth was huge last year. Depth is huge for every Cup winner.
Bowman’s moves this year mirrored last year's protection of that depth, and look at how that paid off in the playoffs:
*In the third period of that asphyxiating Game 6 in Detroit when Handzus -- Handzus! -- Bryan Bickell and Michael Frolik scored;
*In Game 2 of the conference final, Handzus -- Handzus! -- Bickell and Andrew Shaw led the onslaught that chased Kings all-everything goalie Jonathan Quick;
*In Game 1 of the Stanley Cup final, Shaw scored in triple overtime because he loves shin pads;
*And finally, Bickell and Dave Bolland each scored in a span of 17 indelible seconds in Game 6.
So, this looks familiar. This looks like a solid approach for a team looking to defend familiar hardware.
“There are a lot of components to our team similar to a year ago (and) some of the younger players are better now than they were a year ago,’’ Bowman said. “I don’t think we’ve had any guys who have just dropped off and lost their talent over the last six months. We have a really good group that understands what it takes to win.’’
When GMs go this route with great teams, they usually have a strong sense of the dressing room. When players seem to have something working and a trust in teammates, GMs are loathe to pull someone out of the room.
Instead, they leave the room intact as a show of confidence and as a challenge. Live up to what you believe you can accomplish when everyone knows there's only one acceptable accomplishment.
These Hawks have never repeated, a task made tougher in a salary-cap world. But so what? The Hawks hadn’t won a Cup in 49 years before Toews and Kane led the way. Reloaded, they won again three seasons later. The Hawks know the drill. It's on them.