Hawks best positioned for 2014 Cup

Repeat a stretch, but Chicago better situated than Boston for finals return

Originally Published: June 25, 2013
By Craig Custance | ESPN Insider

ToewsBruce Bennett/Getty ImagesJonathan Toews and the Blackhawks won't be dismantled like they were after their previous Cup win.

BOSTON -- The first time he won a Stanley Cup, Chicago Blackhawks general manager Stan Bowman got a couple days to celebrate, then had to make the difficult decisions to tear down a team that reached the pinnacle of hockey together.

On Monday night, with Blackhawks fans who traveled to Boston screaming behind him along the TD Garden glass, Bowman could look at the players celebrating in front of him and know that most of them are coming back. The first team in the salary cap era to win two Stanley Cups is built to win more.

"We're going to make some changes, but nothing like before," Bowman said after the Hawks captured the Stanley Cup with a 3-2 victory over the Boston Bruins in Game 6. "That was tough at the time to remake everybody. Overall, I think we've done a good job of putting ourselves in a good position. We have some young players that have taken roles on the team and grown in their roles. It's nice to see it all come together."

When it comes to building a championship roster, Bowman and his Stanley Cup finals counterpart, Peter Chiarelli, are as good as it gets in the game right now. This was a tight playoff series between the two best teams in the league and both teams are built for more. Boston and Chicago have core players bred to win championships. Guys such as Jonathan Toews, Patrice Bergeron, Patrick Kane, David Krejci, Duncan Keith, Zdeno Chara, Patrick Sharp, Milan Lucic, Brent Seabrook -- the list goes on. These are champions, Olympians and the most elite of competitors.

Repeating is all but impossible in today's NHL, but in playing for another Stanley Cup so shortly after winning one, these two teams have shown they're up for the grind.

So which one gets back to the top of the mountain first?