(CBS) As the Blackhawks cleaned out their lockers and conducted exit interviews Tuesday following a heartbreaking, season-ending 5-4 overtime loss to the Kings in Game 7 of the Western Conference Final on Sunday, Chicago general manager Stan Bowman vowed that big changes aren’t needed after a season with championship aspirations ended five wins short of a title.
“I don’t think we’re going to have wholesale changes,” Bowman said, according to the Chicago Tribune’s Chris Kuc. “That certainly is not warranted.”
As with all teams, Bowman does expect some roster turnover, and he added the Blackhawks will be vigilant in assessing all moves.
“If there’s a move to upgrade our team, we will look into it,” he said.
Here’s a few more important notes from the media sessions:
— Bowman reiterated signing center Jonathan Toews and winger Patrick Kane to long-term contracts is a big focus, as each has one year left on his current deal.
“It’s the highest priority for us,” Bowman said.
It sounds like staying in Chicago is the only option Kane and Toews have considered themselves.
“(We both) love playing here,” Kane said of he and Toews.
“Who could ever think of a better situation to be in?” Toews added. “I think back to the day I was drafted, I absolutely had no idea all this would be in store for me in my short career. So far I’ve been so fortunate to be … part of an unbelievable group of guys.
“There’s no doubt in my mind (that) there’s no better way to have it as a hockey player … Things will take care of themselves when it comes to that.”
— Bowman indicated Kris Versteeg — who was a lightning rod for criticism, especially late in the season — will be back next season and that the Blackhawks expect him to be better when he’s healthy. Coach Joel Quenneville added that Chicago are “looking for more from Versteeg.”
— Center Michal Handzus, 37, doesn’t plan on retiring, according to the Tribune’s Kuc. Handzus will be an unrestricted free agent.
— Forward Ben Smith made it clear he wants to re-sign with the Blackhawks. He’s a restricted free agent.
— Defenseman Johnny Oduya might not have played in the Stanley Cup Final if the Blackhawks had advanced that far. His injury was undisclosed.