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Blackhawks' Bowman prepared to stand pat

by Brian Hedger

CHICAGO -- Those wondering if the Chicago Blackhawks will counter the blockbuster trade pulled off by the St. Louis Blues on Friday can stop now.

Blackhawks general manager Stan Bowman provided an answer Saturday night at Soldier Field before his team faced the Pittsburgh Penguins in the final game of the 2014 Coors Light NHL Stadium Series.

Rather than making a move in response to the Blues acquiring goalie Ryan Miller and center Steve Ott from the Buffalo Sabres on Friday, Bowman said the defending Stanley Cup champions plan to stand pat heading into the NHL Trade Deadline on Wednesday afternoon (3 p.m. ET).

"I think you can't be reactionary that way," Bowman, who's been at the helm for Chicago's Stanley Cup titles in 2010 and 2013. "Those guys haven't even played a game yet in St. Louis. You kind of have to see how it all shakes out, but we're more focused on what we can do. We have to play good hockey."

The way he sees it, the Blackhawks roster is good enough to defend the title without making a splashy move before the deadline. It's not like Bowman doesn't have options to change the mix of his group down the stretch, if needed.

Rookie center Brandon Pirri, who's in Rockford of the American Hockey League, had two stints with the Blackhawks, and forward prospect Jeremy Morin has NHL experience.

That's not to mention defense prospect Adam Clendening, three collegiate prospects set to graduate, and highly touted 19-year old Finnish forward Teuvo Teravainen, whom Bowman didn't rule out as a possibility to come over this season.

The GM made a number of trades already, including one in November to reacquire veteran forward Kris Versteeg from the Florida Panthers. Along with that deal, Bowman picked up veteran goalie Jason LaBarbera in a trade with the Edmonton Oilers and bolstered Chicago's depth up front by acquiring forwards Peter Regin and Pierre-Marc Bouchard from the New York Islanders.

Those moves, Bowman said, were the extent of what he plans to do before the trading window closes.

"We're not focused on the deadline," Bowman said. "We're really happy with the team we have. We made a couple moves right before going [into the 2014 Sochi Olympics break] to fix some depth at forward. Early on we picked up Jason LaBarbera and we made our big move back in November when we added Kris Versteeg."

The Versteeg trade was made for more than his experience and previous history with the Blackhawks, which included breaking into the NHL with Chicago and winning the Stanley Cup in 2010. Bowman said that move, in essence, was a deadline type of trade that provided his team with a valuable asset for more than the stretch run of the regular season and Stanley Cup Playoffs.

"We did that intentionally to try to get a player in for a longer period of time," Bowman said. "I think sometimes it's hard. A guy comes in for a couple weeks and then you jump into the playoffs and you can't get him acclimated to your system and the way you play and who you're going to play with. So, we're not looking at [the trade deadline] at all. We've got a great group here. [There's] a lot of chemistry with our guys. We're focused on just going ahead and getting back on the ice. We've been off for a while with the break, but [trades are] not the focus for us."

Trades became the focus Friday night, not long before the Blackhawks took the ice at Soldier Field for their practice session. The Blues, Chicago's Central Division rivals, pulled off that trade and immediately sent notice to the rest of the division, Western Conference and League about their desire to win it all.

Bowman hasn't flinched.

Some GMs might be tempted to turn up the heat on potential counter measures prior to the deadline, but Bowman is content playing it his way, which is to stay the course.

He's done it before and has two championships to show for it, so why make a hasty change now?

"We're trying not to be a reactionary team, because I think we have to do what we do well and focus on our own preparation," Bowman said. "You're certainly aware of what other teams do, and you have to be respectful and prepared when you play those teams, but I don't think it makes sense to just do something because another team did a move. If [the Blues] hadn't made a move, it wouldn't have changed our approach."

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