CHICAGO – A few years ago, the Chicago Blackhawks made no secret of their goal to become a franchise just like the Detroit Red Wings.
After winning the Stanley Cup twice in the past four seasons, they've accomplished that goal. Other teams are now striving to be young, fast and high-powered at both ends of the rink, just like them.
The San Jose Sharks are one of those teams. San Jose (26-10-8) is in town to face the Blackhawks on Sunday night at United Center (8 p.m. ET, NBCSN) and coach Todd McLellan isn't coy about who sets the NHL's standard bar for excellence.
"They have to be the bar," McLellan said of the Blackhawks. "You don't win two out of [four] and not be the bar. So, whether they like it or not, and I'm sure they do like it, they are the bar. That comes with success. That comes with expectations. Teams will try and emulate their plan, the way they've built, the way they carry themselves and the way they execute on the ice, because it's been proven to be successful."
The Sharks in particular are one of those teams that appear to be emulating what makes Chicago tick. They even have two members of the Blackhawks roster that won the Stanley Cup in 2010: goalie Antti Niemi and forward Adam Burish.