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Bernstein: These Blackhawks Won 3 Stanley Cups

By Dan Bernstein-- senior columnist

(CBS) Right, it sucks. Gotcha.

First-round playoff outs after being the best team in the conference are no fun, and the sting of the Blackhawks losing in this fashion -- a sweep at the hands of the eighth-seeded Predators that they dominated in the regular season -- is particularly hard to swallow after all the parades and literal entitlement.

But those happened, and they matter.

A window is closing or close to doing so, an era at least almost over. Instead of lamenting failure of a rapidly aging core and inconsistently developed roster, now can be a time to applaud how long this inevitability has been delayed, particularly pursuant to a brutal salary cap that forced painful trades of valuable young players. Blackhawks general manager Stan Bowman swapped out both numerous minor-league prospects and established, improving NHLers to optimize the group in whom he committed approximately two-thirds of the team's money, all in an effort to keep their Stanley Cup hopes viable.

This core has won three Stanley Cups and could possibly win more.

They got jumped, bad, by some live wires who painted white ice with streaking vectors of yellow while a proven goaltender found his concentration and vision while playing the puck like an extra defenseman.

If this is the end of the best of this Hawks era, so what?

It was going to occur. They won three Stanley Cups. Three.

I feel badly for the bar owners who came to rely on multiple playoff games both home and road to pad their bottom lines, for the vendors and other stadium workers who had banked on a longer run and for my broadcasting colleagues in TV and radio understanding the financial value of a long burn through spring into summer.

Go back to 2007, and accept or decline this agreement as offered to anyone invested in the success of the Blackhawks: They will grow into a contender, win three Stanley Cup Championships between 2010 and 2015 and have a reasonable shot even beyond that.

So are we good? Not saying any of this series was fun, nor is the confrontation of future realities similarly optimistic as 10 years ago.

But raise a glass to what now is seen as disappointment.

Dan Bernstein is a co-host of 670 The Score's "Bernstein and Goff Show" in afternoon drive. You can follow him on Twitter  @dan_bernstein and read more of his columns here.

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