He’s not the first person people thought of after the Chicago Blackhawks won their second Stanley Cup championship in four years, but he’s one of the biggest reasons they got to that point.
Mandatory Credit: Rob Grabowski-USA TODAY Sports
That man is Blackhawks General Manager, Stan Bowman.
Bowman was destined to live a life full of hockey from the day he was born, as he is the first son of hockey legend Scotty Bowman. Scotty collected his thirteenth Stanley Cup ring in 2013 after serving in an advising role with the Blackhawks.
Many Blackhawks’ fans disagree with some of the roster moves Bowman has made over the last several years, but there is no denying that he has made the right ones. In an age where parity has taken place in the salary-cap restricted NHL, Bowman has assembled two championship squads in twice as many years.
The first one was the easy one, and after their first Stanley Cup win the Blackhawks had to say goodbye to many key pieces of their run, including their starting goaltender. Three short seasons later, they were on top of the hockey world again. What’s the secret?
For Bowman, there is no secret recipe. He sacrificed many fan favourite players to keep the core of Patrick Kane, Jonathan Toews, Brent Seabrook, Duncan Keith, Patrick Sharp, and Marian Hossa in the red, white and black. His knack for key draft picks brought players like Corey Crawford, Andrew Shaw, and Bryan Bickell to the forefront, all players that have spent their entire pro hockey careers inside the Blackhawks organization. All three of these players were part of the 2013 Cup run.
Bowman is not your conventional GM, by today’s standards. Unlike counterparts such as Ray Shero of the Pittsburgh Penguins, the 2013 GM Of The Year Award winner (an award Bowman was not nominated for) he stays out of the spotlight, using depth trades and prospect pickups to surround the existing core with a bolder bottom six, and excellent fifth, sixth, and seventh defensemen. An example of this came at the trade deadline in 2013; while Pittsburgh was spending tons of future product on rental Jarome Iginla, Bowman made one move on deadline day, picking up center Michal Handzus from the San Jose Sharks. It happened to be a dream come true for both sides: the Blackhawks found a powerful faceoff man, and Handzus won his first Stanley Cup in his long NHL career.
Examples of Bowman’s negotiating wizardry were shown on Sunday, where two separate trades netted him five draft picks, after giving up only two roster players, and at the same time, making room for the falling salary cap ceiling. Before the day was out, he had also resigned one of the ‘Hawks leading playoff performers, and executed another solid day at the NHL Entry Draft. It was all in a day’s work for Bowman, and there will be many more to come before the puck drops on the 2013-14 season, as he tries to assemble the best possible roster for a title defense available.
General Manager is not a term usually held for very long by one person, especially in the fast-paced world of the NHL. Stan Bowman looks to buck that trend, however, as he isn’t going anywhere in the Blackhawks’ foreseeable future.
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