CHICAGO – The Chicago Blackhawks and Boston Bruins have a chance to do something that no team has accomplished since the NHL instituted a salary cap—win two Stanley Cups.
No team has won more than one since the cap started in 2005, but that’s about to change.
The Blackhawks are going for their second in four seasons, and the Bruins can make it two in three seasons.
“From my perspective, it says a lot,” Bruins president Cam Neely said. “It speaks volumes to the types of players from our organization that Pete put together, the type of coaching job that Claude (Julien) has done. It’s really easy to spend to the cap, if the owners allow you. It’s making sure you got the right guys. I think Pete has done a really good job of making sure we got the right guys with the right character.”
The Bruins got here with a different goalie, with Tuukka Rask having replaced Tim Thomas.
The Blackhawks, meanwhile, have the same core with Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane and Marian Hossa. But salary cap issues forced them to part with key supporting players such as Dustin Byfuglien, Andrew Ladd, Kris Versteeg and goalie Antti Niemi.
“I try to point out that it really is sort of a team effort,” said general manager Stan Bowman, who took over for Dale Tallon before the championship season.
“It’s not just one man. It wasn’t one man back then. It’s not one man now. I think I look at some of the success we’ve had personnel wise. You have to look at our amateur scouting staff, they’ve done a great job. We’ve had a couple young players, Andrew Shaw, Brandon Saad. They’ve come in at a young age, made a big contribution. Nick Leddy—part of our pro group, scouting group, in that trade. It’s a team effort. Once we get the players, we turn them over to the coaches, they have to find a way to utilize them, make them better players. They’ve done that.”
JAGR RETURNS: Jaromir Jagr won the Stanley Cup in his first two seasons in the NHL way back in 1991 and 1992, helping the Pittsburgh Penguins to consecutive titles. The second came against Chicago in a four-game sweep.
Now he’s looking for a third championship, this time with the Boston Bruins. He said Tuesday he always felt he would get another chance to win a title.
“It’s a goal for any hockey player, any team, before the season starts,” the 41-year-old Jagr said. “You have 30 teams. They all got one goal: to win the Cup. They all do maximum for that. Only one can do it.”
Jagr was acquired in a trade with Dallas on April 2. He has no goals and seven assists in 16 playoff games with the Bruins.
“It’s pretty amazing. He was one of my favourite players as a kid,” Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews said. “I wore No. 68 when I was playing summer hockey. I had a Koho Jagr stick and all that. I looked up to him. I was probably 9 or 10 at that age.”
Asked if he’ll still be playing at 41, the 25-year-old Toews demurred. “I’ll check in with you in about 15 years or so,” he said.
CHECKING EMOTIONS: The Boston Bruins find themselves in familiar territory, only this time the feeling is different as they aim for their second championship in three years.
Defenceman Andrew Ference said their emotions are in check this time.
“You can see it in some of the guys this time around, who went though it for the first time in 2011,” he said. “It’s a toned-down emotional level for a lot of guys, and I see that as a positive. There’s a line to draw. We don’t want to be sociopaths and not feel anything. You want to enjoy the moment and have fun, because that’s when most guys play their best, when they’re enjoying it. You have to find a way to cap and find that level for yourself.”
UNFAMILIAR FOES: Chicago’s Dave Bolland isn’t quite sure what to expect from the Bruins—for good reason. They haven’t played in nearly two years.
“It’s going to be a little weird going against them the first two or three or four shifts because you don’t get to see those guys that much,” Bolland said. “Normally when you get to see a team like Vancouver or the Kings or whoever, you’ve got confidence. You know who you’re up against and who you’re playing against. It’s going to be different.”
The last time these teams met, the Bruins beat the Blackhawks 3-2 in a shootout on Oct. 15, 2011. With the lockout this season, Eastern and Western Conference teams did not play each other.
TIM TEB-WHO?: Don’t expect Bruins forward Shawn Thornton to get swept up in Tebowmania. The New England Patriots might have raised a few eyebrows with the Tim Tebow signing but not his. And if the move bumps the Bruins off the front page in Boston, well, so be it.
“Last time I checked, I think (Tom) Brady’s the quarterback there,” Thornton said.
AP Sports Writer Jay Cohen in Chicago contributed to this report.