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New faces for Blackhawks as Cup defense begins

NHL.com @NHL

CHICAGO (AP) - The Chicago Blackhawks will begin the defense of their first Stanley Cup championship since 1961 with a host of new faces.

General manager Stan Bowman shed players to keep the payroll under the NHL's $59.4 million salary cap. Among them were goalie Antti Niemi and Dustin Byfuglien.

In all, 10 players who helped win the Cup last June are gone. But the team still has stars like Patrick Kane, Jonathan Toews, Duncan Keith, Brent Seabrook and Patrick Sharp, along with coach Joel Quenneville.

The coach also says forward Marian Hossa, one of only four Chicago regulars who's over 30, appears to be in top form.

The regular season begins Thursday night in Denver against the Colorado Avalanche.

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