"I like this group a lot," captain Jonathan Toews told the paper. "You always tell yourself (that) every guy in this room has to believe -- from the guy who plays 30 minutes a night to the guys who are scratches or waiting for their chances to play -- that you ... have that group you need to win. We believed in each other, we believed in this group. It was a special team."
While Blackhawks GM Stan Bowman and head coach Joel Quenneville are more than likely being given another chance to right the ship next season, management will need to restructure a team capable of making a deep run in the playoffs.
Though Bowman is expected to have approximately $7 million in available cap space, the core, which consists of Toews, Patrick Kane, Marian Hossa, Patrick Sharp, Dave Bolland, Brent Seabrook and Duncan Keith, is not likely to be broken up.
"I thought our team was pretty solid," Hawks goaltender Corey Crawford told the Tribune. "The core of this team is very solid and we'll be good for many years to come."
Rookies Marcus Kruger, Jimmy Hayes, Andrew Shaw, Brandon Saad and Dylan Olsen have bright futures, though the minors are an option for some, after gaining valuable experience down the stretch of the regular season and into the playoffs.
Five unrestricted free agents, Andrew Brunette, Brendan Morrison, Jamal Mayers, Sean O'Donnell and Sami Lepisto, might be left aside as Bowman could choose to look elsewhere to fill in the supporting cast.
Meanwhile, Bowman will need to make hard decisions on a few players, including Brandon Bollig, Bryan Bickell, Steve Montador and Johnny Oduya.
Oduya, who provided a spark when he was acquired from the Winnipeg Jets at the trade deadline, could command an expensive raise coming off a season in which he was paid $3.5 million.
Bickell has a reasonable deal with a cap hit of $542,000 and has some value due to his size and experience, but the Hawks need help up front and the 26-year-old could be used as trade bait.