NEW YORK - The Blackhawks' front office pulled every trick in the book — and some not in the book — in a whirlwind off-season to regain the organization's foothold in the Chicago sports scene.
A marketing blitz helped bring fans back — management says season ticket sales are at an all-time high after a 300 percent increase from a year ago — and home games finally will be televised with popular announcer Pat Foley back behind the microphone.
Now all the Hawks must do is win, starting Friday night in the opener visiting the New York Rangers.
"We have to produce," veteran defenseman Brent Seabrook said. "They've given us everything they can to make us successful team. We have a big buzz around here. It comes down to the players and it comes down to each individual to get it done every night."
After finishing with 88 points, three short of the final Western Conference playoff spot last season, Wirtz & Co. opened the purse strings and landed two of the biggest prizes in free agency in defenseman Brian Campbell and goaltender Cristobal Huet.
Those additions, along with blossoming young stars Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews and veterans Patrick Sharp, Martin Havlat, Duncan Keith and Seabrook, have expectations soaring.
"You can tell right from Day One expectations have been raised," said Sharp, who scored a career-high 36 goals last season. "We're not afraid of that. ... We expect to be great."
Great is one thing, but making the postseason for the first time since 2002 is a more attainable goal.
"We've had a lot of attention as opposed to some years," Toews said. "It's time to live up to it."