CHICAGO (AP) — The mood was festive at the Chicago Blackhawks' convention even though the club couldn't follow its Stanley Cup championship with a repeat.
The Blackhawks, and 10,000 of their fans, partied on Friday night at the team's seventh annual convention. Many of the customers were clad in the team's red jerseys, and they cheered the introduction of the players on the runway.
Chicago fell short in its Cup defense, losing to the eventual champion Los Angeles Kings in Game 7 of the Western Conference finals. But the Blackhawks, the Cup winners in 2010 and 2013, are expected to be contenders again next season.
They added veteran forward Brad Richards, who was bought out by the Eastern Conference champion New York Rangers, on a one-year, $2 million contract. Chicago is looking to add more pieces despite being up against the salary cap.
"We have some ideas of what we're going to do," general manager Stan Bowman said. "A lot of things happen once camps open, both for us and for other teams.
"I think you're always in a good position when you have a lot of established players."
Bowman stopped short of suggesting who from the current roster might be traded or trimmed to make the budget work.
"Everyone likes their team right now," he said, "Once training camp rolls around, you start playing some exhibition games and you realize maybe that the way you drew it up in June and July isn't playing out the way you hoped."
Richards, who won the Stanley Cup in 2004 with Tampa Bay, believed Chicago offered him the best opportunity to win another championship.
"It's a team that's relevant every day, and every year they seem to be making a run. That's all you can ask for as a player," he said. "You really want to get another (Cup). In my case, another one before I retire."
"This is a great chance."