Who is better: Blackhawks or Penguins? 

December, 4, 2009

On Thursday, after weeks of speculation, the Chicago Blackhawks finalized their new deals with young stars Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane and Duncan Keith. In a previous era of Hawks hockey, these three guys likely would have been headed out of town a la Jeremy Roenick and Ed Belfour. Chicago puck fans should be thrilled that Rocky Wirtz is running things a little differently than his dad, the late Bill Wirtz.

Now, the Hawks need to win the franchise's first Stanley Cup since 1961 in a hurry. With approximately $60 million committed to just 15 players for next season (the salary cap upper limit is not expected to rise much -- if at all -- past its current level), the 2010-11 Blackhawks will have a much different cast of supporting characters. In other words, in Chicago, the future is now ... right now.

Here are Five for Friday.

E.J. Hradek

Senior Writer, ESPN The Magazine
E.J. Hradek is a senior writer at ESPN The Magazine, joining the staff prior to its launch in 1998. He began covering hockey as a writer/editor for Hockey Illustrated in 1989.