Re-tooled Blackhawks set for quick return to Stanley Cup final

Blackhawks forward Jonathan Toews and Kings defenceman Robyn Regehr crash along the boards during...

Blackhawks forward Jonathan Toews and Kings defenceman Robyn Regehr crash along the boards during Game 3 of the NHL Western Conference final at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, June 4, 2013. (LUCY NICHOLSON/Reuters)

ROB LONGLEY, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 2:43 AM ET

CHICAGO - The Stanley Cup championship won by Chicago three years ago may not be a distant memory, but who wasn't starting to wonder if it was a one-off for the Blackhawks?

With player losses among the price paid for that success, the 2010 champs had to retool while keeping their skill level intact against grinding opponents in the NHL playoffs.

Like so many contemporary Cup winners, the defence of their title didn't work out so well and last year's meek ousting at the hands of the Phoenix Coyotes suggested a further decline.

Then a dominant lockout-shortened season changed it all.


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