Posted by sportsmaven on September 16, 2009
At the beginning of the week, the Chicago Blackhawks opened their fall training camp with some new faces in key places. The most prominent new face is that of newly installed General Manager Stan Bowman. Behind the scenes, lurking in the shadows is the true architect and face of the organization, the stature of William Scott Bowman, or “Scotty” as he’s affectionately known. The senior Bowman was hired in July, 2008 as Senior Advisor of Hockey Operations for the Chicago Blackhawks. Since that day, owner Rocky Wirtz and team president John McDonough have wisely, but not always smoothly, turned the reins of the hockey operations over to the 9-time Stanley Cup champion coach.
Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images North America
The first big move was a somewhat awkward firing of then-Coach Denis Savard and subsequential hiring of current Coach Joel Quenneville just four games into the 2008-2009 season. It was a move that had to be made, but it certainly wasn’t made with grace nor good timing. The last move? The “re-assignment” of former GM Dale Tallon coupled with the promotion of Stan to General Manager on July 14th, another move that was a correct move to make, but another plagued with awkwardness and questionable timing. Bowman has molded this young Blackhawks team much in the same mold as his Stanley Cup winning teams in Detroit, Pittsburgh, and Montreal. In his brief tenure in Chicago, the elder Bowman has displayed his biggest asset — being able to adapt to the needs of the game today and fit personnel and coaching to those needs.
With his replacement of Tallon with his son, Stan, Bowman has again brought in new wave thinking to an organization that is desperately trying to escape it’s tractor beam-like grip of the glory days of it’s past. The younger Bowman ushers in a new, modern era in Blackhawks lore, a man whose off-ice managmement, negotiating, and analytic skills more than make up for lack of hockey playing experience. Tallon’s apparent administrative miscues were the final nails in his coffin, closing his tenure as Blackhawks GM.
The elder Bowman has filled in the hockey part of the equation, engineering the signing of RW Marian Hossa to a 12-year free agent deal, as well as the signings of C Tomas Kopecky from the Detroit Red Wings and C John Madden from the New Jersey Devils. Bowman has worked to install his winning philosophy of big, skilled two-way players that can stretch the ice and play his aggressive, pounding style of play and infusing the talent base with Stanley Cup winning players to round out the up and coming Blackhawks team.
As the Blackhawks finish day 3 of training camp, the team carries the stamp and personal marks of Scotty Bowman, from top to bottom. Wirtz, McDonough and Bowman have shown that throughout the awkwardness of their moves, they are indeed dedicated and focused on bringing a Stanley Cup Championship to Chicago as soon as humanly possible. By hiring a 9-time Stanley Cup winning coach to architect that championship, the Blackhawks mean business. If Bowman is half as good an architect as he is a coach, the Chicago Blackhawks are in for a Stanley Cup type treat.
Posted in Chicago Blackhawks | Tagged: Chicago, Chicago Blackhawks, Dale Tallon, Denis Savard, Detroit, Detroit Red Wings, Joel Quenneville, John Madden, John McDonough, Marian Hossa, Montreal, New Jersey Devils, Pittsburgh, Rocky Wirtz, Scotty Bowman, Stan Bowman, Stanley Cup, Tomas Kopecky | 5 Comments »
Posted by sportsmaven on July 15, 2009
The actual move was shockingly abrupt. Not a hint was stirring for a mid-summer change. But then it happened, swiftly and decisively. The move left no doubt about who is in control of this Original Six franchise. But as alarmingly quickly the Dale Tallon “re-assignment” has happened, this move was in the works the day the Chicago Blackhawks hired Scotty Bowman as Senior Advisor of Hockey Operations. Bowman’s son, Stan has been an assistant to the GM for the Blackhawks for the past 3 years and seemed heir apparent to the Blackhawks GM job. With Scotty in the fold, it marked a changing of the guard on the hockey operations side of the business and it started the clock ticking on GM Dale Tallon’s tenure in the organizational hierarchy. Some believe the firing was undeserved. It may be a sign of how the Blackhawks will now conduct business in their focused quest for a Stanley Cup Championship.
(AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)
Whatever is thought of the Tallon replacement, it definitely came across as Blackhawks President John McDonough further stamping his imprint on the organization. McDonough certainly has earned the right to make the changes he felt necessary to continue the impressive ascent of an Original Six franchise that was in complete disarray prior to his arrival. McDonough skillfully danced around tough questions regarding the change in management, citing differing approaches and the botched contract paperwork for the 8 Blackhawk free-agents as impetus for the change. Like any other GM, Tallon did some good things and not so good things. Both the Chicago Sun-Times and the Chicago Tribune point out Tallon’s good and bad moves as a means to evaluating his effectiveness as Blackhawks GM.
Did the Chicago Blackhawks give Dale Tallon a raw deal with his re-assignment? I don’t think the move was surprising, as the writing was on the wall for the past season when the senior Bowman entered the fold. Was the timing suspect? Potentially, it was, given the move was made in advance of the Chicago Blackhawks Fan Convention, which begins this Friday. That should give fans fuel to continue questioning the move for the remainder of the summer. The paperwork snafu was the final straw, providing the perfect opportunity to make that change now heading off a more potentially messy divorce closer to the beginning of the upcoming hockey season.
Along with the manner in which former Blackhawk great and coach Denis Savard was summarily dismissed at the beginning of last season, it seems that the Blackhawks may be perceived as insensitive. The fact that both Savard and Tallon were offered and accepted other positions within the organization softens the blows tremendously and proves that the organization has made inroads with keeping former key players in their fold in their quest to win a Stanley Cup.
Posted in Chicago Blackhawks | Tagged: Chicago Blackhawks, Chicago Blackhawks Fan Convention, Chicago Sun-Times, Chicago Tribune, Dale Tallon, Denis Savard, John McDonough, Original Six franchise, Scotty Bowman, Stan Bowman, Stanley Cup | Leave a Comment »
Posted by sportsmaven on January 4, 2009
Indications from the last 3 games (the two Detroit games and tonight’s 5-2 victory against the Calgary Flames) appear that teams are now trying to take the Chicago Blackhawks out of their game by muscling them around on the ice. Coming off their recent 9 game winning streak, the Detroit Red Wings were unbelievably physical in blanking the Hawks 4-0 on Tuesday. The Wings came hard at young Hawks RW Patrick Kane and C Jonathan Toews, injuring Kane and clearly disturbing Toews on many occasions. The Hawks enforcers were silent in protecting their stars, something that will need to change for the Hawks to keep moving forward.
Calgary Flames' Mark Giordano, left, fights with Chicago Blackhawks' Colin Fraser during the first period of an NHL hockey game Sunday, Jan. 4, 2009, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)
The Red Wings continually sent ex-Hawk and RW Daniel Cleary after Kane, eventually forcing Kane out of the game. This will become the new strategy of teams taking on the Blackhawks, as teams used to be able to beat the Hawks on talent alone, but now the times have changed.
With the emergence of RW Patrick Sharp and D Duncan Keith, along with the rapid development of youngsters Toews and Kane, the steady play of a surprising healthy RW Martin Havlat and the addition of now three time All-Star D Brian Campbell, the level of talent on the Hawks has shot through the roof of the United Center. The addition of Calder Trophy contender LW Pat Versteeg has made the Hawks the youngest, most dynamic new team and propelling them into the top non-division leader in the Western Conference with 49 points, but 8 points behind the Central Division leading Red Wings but 9 points ahead of the team directly below them, the Columbus Blue Jackets.
The good news for the Blackhawks are that teams can no longer just show up and beat them any longer. The gap of talent that has existed over the last few seasons has been closed, virtually eliminated through very shrewd work by Hawks GM Dale Tallon, assisted by assistant GM Stan Bowman and new special advisor Scotty Bowman, as well as the addition of veteran coach Joel Quenneville. When the gap of talent is non-existent, teams like the Red Wings often resort to physical intimidation, imposing their will on their opponents. For a young team such as the Blackhawks, this tactic is quite effective, displayed by home and home victories and the 0-4 record against the Red Wings for which the Blackhawks are proud owners.
The next step for the Blackhawks is to begin learining how to match physical play with physical play without taking themselves out of their game plan. Tonight’s victory over the Calgary Flames was a start. Hawks D Colin Fraser, RW Ben Eager, D Matt Walker, and RW Dustin Byfuglien set the tone tonight with 5:00 fighting penalties (Byfuglien with a 10:00 game misconduct penalty at the end of the game). With the success of the 2009 NHL Winter Classic on New Year’s day, the 3 Hawks starters on the All-Star team, and the overall rise of an Original Six team deep in the ashes of despair, the young Hawks are now a target for teams to take their shots. How the Hawks respond to that challenge is what will determine if their success will continue.
Posted in Chicago Blackhawks | Tagged: 2009 NHL Winter Classic, Ben Eager, Brian Campbell, Calder Trophy, Calgary Flames, Central Division, Chicago Blackhawks, Colin Fraser, Columbus Blue Jackets, Dale Tallon, Daniel Cleary, Detroit Red Wings, Duncan Keith, Dustin Byfuglien, Joel Quenneville, Jonathan Toews, Mark Giordano, Martin Havlat, Matt Walker, Patrick Kane, Patrick Sharp, Patrick Versteeg, Scotty Bowman, Stan Bowman, Western Conference | Leave a Comment »