Jun 28, 2013; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago Blackhawks vice president and general manager Stan Bowman during the 2013 Stanley Cup championship celebration at Grant Park in Chicago. Mandatory Credit: Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports
Cleaning Up The Cap
The biggest complaint I hear about Stan Bowman is that he has gotten all of the credit for Dale Tallon’s work. That’s not a completely false statement, but it’s still far from the reality of the situation. The truth of the statement lies with the core of the team. Bowman is playing with all the best toys that Tallon left behind. That doesn’t mean that the team would be able to run itself and survive. Tallon’s squad was extremely flawed from a financial standpoint, that’s no secret. Tallon was hired to build a winner NOW, and Stan was hired to keep it winning. The cap purge drew the most ire from casual and non-hockey sports fans (non-hockey sports fans?!?! How is that a thing?) that didn’t exactly understand how the cap in the NHL works. Some assumed he was being cheap by not spending money on the players and his unwillingness to pay the “luxury tax”. That’s not a thing in hockey. Others didn’t even know there was a salary cap in the NHL. Bowman worked hard to replace the pieces without harming the core. We all know that it wasn’t the smoothest process, but just because it wasn’t entirely smooth, doesn’t mean it wasn’t right or effective. A number of his moves that people disliked ended up being hugely beneficial.
The three players that come to my mind that fit this category are Johnny Oduya, Marcus Kruger, & Michal Frolik. Oduya helped not only to stabilize the blueline, he also helped Hjalmarsson find his form. Since Oduya has joined the Hawks, the team has only missed out on getting a point in 12 games. That is mind bogglingly good. Kruger and Frolik ended up being one of the best defensive forward tandems in the league when it came to killing penalties. Admittedly, Fro was brought in to score, but his hustle night in and night out made him a fan favorite, especially after he made it near impossible for opponents to score while a man down. He continued to impress fans by bringing back Chris Versteeg at an extremely nice price. Not all of his moves were great though. Khabibulin and Dan Carcillo made a lot of fans scratch their heads. Carcillo wasn’t terrible, but he definitely wasn’t the answer. Khabi has been a complete disaster, especially when you think about the 1.97 million they paid him. At the same time, the Hawks have become a hot spot destination for many players. Antti Raanta was a coveted young player that chose the Blackhawks. That move may be a lot more valuable now that Khabi has been injured.
The Hawks have done a lot to turn their fortunes around. Tallon was the mastermind for the core, but Bowman is the reason the team is sustainable. As a lifelong fan of the Hawks, I will always be grateful for what Rocky Wirtz has done. Bowman has continually found diamonds in the rough to play alongside the extremely high end talent that he inherited. The fans have been given a team with great depth that they then mirrored with their own depth of feeling and support for the team that Dale Tallon, Rocky Wirtz, and Stan Bowman have brought together.