Every successful team in the NHL -- especially in the salary cap era -- relies on its core to be good year after year.
Datsyuk, Zetterberg, Franzen, Lidstrom and Kronwall in Detroit.
Thornton, Marleau, Boyle, Heatley and Pavelski in San Jose.
Crosby, Malkin, Staal and Fleury in Pittsburgh.
Richards, Pronger, Briere, Hartnell and Timonen in Philadelphia.
That's just to name a few of the elite teams teams.
For the Blackhawks, the core guys are easy to spot: Toews, Kane, Keith, Seabrook, Sharp, Bolland, Hossa, Hjalmarsson and Campbell.
Coming off of a Stanley Cup, losing meaningful depth players and experiencing some injuries early in the season, the core has an even greater responsibility to shoulder.
To this point -- 15 games into the season -- the Blackhawks core players have carried that load unevenly.
"Our core has been alright," said Head Coach Joel Quenneville. "We've had some core players who've had great starts. Obviously 'Hoss's' absence has been noticeable in the last little while because he was on top of his game. He was leading the way in that area. 'Sharpie's' been fine. I think that as a group, though, that's more across-the-board group that we can all pick it up."
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