By Evan F. Moore
1:01 PM CST, February 25, 2014
Now that the Sochi Olympics are done, the Blackhawks get back to the business of keeping the Stanley Cup local. Depending on how you look at it, the Olympics were a success or a colossal failure. Team Canada did what Team Canada does, while Team USA failed in miserable fashion.
Closer to home, here are five things the Blackhawks can do to repeat as Stanley Cup champs.
Crush all Olympic hangover talk
If the Blackhawks stumble post-Olympics, the fans and media will say NHL players don't belong in the Games because an injury can change the season—much like what happened to N.Y. Islanders captain John Tavares. While Hawks fans might look at Patrick Kane's performance in Sochi and cringe, the reigning Conn Smythe winner has a history of bouncing back. A motivated Kaner is good for everyone.
Shore up special teams
This may sound like a broken record to most longtime fans. The team might want to look into what Niklas Hjalmarsson, Johnny Oduya and Marcus Kruger did on Sweden's penalty killing unit. Definitely worth a shot.
Make a trade
The Hawks need this for two reasons. No. 1, someone has to be a difference maker at the second line center position. No. 2, Brandon Pirri's status has to be solidified. He's done everything a minor leaguer can do to play at the next level. However, he has yet to stick with the team for an extended period of time. The Blackhawks have an embarrassment of riches when it comes to prospects. If the team wants to make a deal, Pirri might be the player to move.
Fix whatever is wrong with Bryan Bickell
Blackhawks fans, along with coach Joel Quenneville, would like to know what happened to the Bryan Bickell who played such a pivotal role in last season's Stanley Cup run. Like most players who sign a free agent deal with a bump in salary, Bickell has struggled this season. He shouldn't overthink it. Just play, and the pucks will fall where they may.
Feed off the fans
Surveying the Chicago sports landscape, the city needs the Hawks to be successful. The Cubs and White Sox are improved but won't win the pennant anytime soon. The Bears and Bulls are still a few players away from being taken seriously. Need I say more?
Evan F. Moore is a RedEye special contributor.
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