Blackhawks discover fountain of youth

Under General Manager Mike Smith, the Blackhawks have restocked their system with better prospects since 2000.

Updated: October 7, 2003, 2:17 PM ET
By By Jim Wilkie | NHL Insider
After trying in vain with quick fixes from older unrestricted free agents and failing to develop many quality players in years of poor drafting through much of the 1990s, the Chicago Blackhawks are putting renewed faith in their young prospects this season.

That was evident Monday when the latest round of cuts left six rookies on the Blackhawks roster for Wednesday night's opener against Minnesota. Chicago hopes the new blood of center Tuomo Ruutu, defenseman Lasse Kukkonen and wingers Igor Radulov, Pavel Vorobiev, Travis Moen and goalie Michael Leighton can pump some life into the struggling organization that has made the playoffs just once in the past six seasons.

"These six rookies deserve to be here right now," Blackhawks general manager Mike Smith told the Chicago Sun-Times. "Rather than get a 32-year-old guy who couldn't make it with another team, we've decided to start with these six. But it'd be optimistic to think we'll play all year with six rookies."