Who is better: Blackhawks or Penguins? 

December, 4, 2009

On Thursday, after weeks of speculation, the Chicago Blackhawks finalized their new deals with young stars Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane and Duncan Keith. In a previous era of Hawks hockey, these three guys likely would have been headed out of town a la Jeremy Roenick and Ed Belfour. Chicago puck fans should be thrilled that Rocky Wirtz is running things a little differently than his dad, the late Bill Wirtz.

Now, the Hawks need to win the franchise's first Stanley Cup since 1961 in a hurry. With approximately $60 million committed to just 15 players for next season (the salary cap upper limit is not expected to rise much -- if at all -- past its current level), the 2010-11 Blackhawks will have a much different cast of supporting characters. In other words, in Chicago, the future is now ... right now.

Here are Five for Friday.

To read which potent team is better -- the Hawks or Pens -- as well as why the Red Wings could miss the playoffs, you must be an ESPN Insider.

E.J. Hradek

Senior Writer, ESPN The Magazine
E.J. Hradek is a senior writer at ESPN The Magazine, joining the staff prior to its launch in 1998. He began covering hockey as a writer/editor for Hockey Illustrated in 1989.