Chicago Blackhawks General Manager Stan Bowman has a very difficult job. Simply put, he is in charge of the overall revenue and cost elements of the team. He is responsible for acquiring and dismissing players, negotiating contracts and staying within the salary cap restraints.
A good general manager does all this while keeping his players, coaches and fans happy. And, of course, in professional hockey, the goal is to be successful and win the Stanley Cup. No pressure though. I sure wouldn’t want that job.
No matter what your opinion is of Bowman, the fact remains that, under his management, the Chicago Blackhawks have won the Stanley Cup three times in the last six years. This week, I’d like to take a closer look at the man behind all that success.
Stanley Glen Bowman was born on June 28, 1973, in Montreal, Canada. His father is Scotty Bowman, a long-time (currently former) NHL head coach and Hockey Hall of Fame member (also the current senior adviser for the Blackhawks). Stan is actually named after the Stanley Cup, as Scotty won his first of many Stanley Cups as coach of the Montreal Canadiens, just one month before Stan’s birth.
Da Windy City
The Bowman family moved to Buffalo, N.Y., when father Scotty began coaching the Buffalo Sabres. Stan attended Canisius High School, and later graduated from the University of Notre Dame in 1995 with degrees in Finance and Computer Applications. While attending school, he spent his summers working for Wegman’s grocery store in Williamsville, N.Y., as a grocery department manager. Between 1995 and 2000, Stan spent time as a consultant for both Arthur Andersen and Benchmark Solutions.
Stan started working for the Chicago Blackhawks organization in 2000, in which he served as a Special Assistant to the General Manager. He worked on financial budgets and developed programs to track player movement and player evaluation. After four years, he was promoted to Director of Hockey Operations, a position he would hold for the next two years.
“In his most recent role as Assistant General Manager, Bowman attended to the day-to-day administration of the Blackhawks’ Hockey Operations Department, including all CBA-related (collective bargaining agreement) matters, such as contract negotiations, free agency, salary arbitration and player movement and assignment. He also tracked the progress of the Blackhawks’ prospects by working closely with the staff of the club’s minor-league affiliate in Rockford while assisting with player evaluation, prospect development and professional and amateur scouting,” according to the official Chicago Blackhawks website.
In July 2009, Stan was named the ninth general manager in Blackhawks history. Of course, we all know the following season was the year the Blackhawks won their first Cup in the current era and broke a 49-year title drought. In September 2010, he was further named Vice President/General Manager. He is the youngest general manager to have won an NHL championship. And the story doesn’t stop there. Stan is the first GM to win three titles (2010, 2013, 2015) in the salary-cap era.
It appears that Bowman is also willing to take things a step further when necessary. When Patrick Kane was selected in the first round of the 2007 draft, the Blackhawks weren’t sure the Buffalo, N.Y., native would be comfortable living alone in the big, unfamiliar city of Chicago. Kane was only 18 years old at the time, and the Blackhawks wanted to make sure he could fully concentrate on making it in the NHL.
So Bowman opened up his home to the young star. He came to live with Bowman and his wife Suzanne, and their two sons, Will and Camden. Kane stayed in the basement, enjoyed home-cooked meals and played with the boys after dinner.
Around this same time, Bowman also had to deal with a very personal battle. In 2007, he was diagnosed with Hodgkins lymphoma and had to go in for weekly chemotherapy treatments. He used working as a way to keep his mind off his illness. In 2008, he underwent a stem-cell transplant. Fortunately, his cancer has been in remission ever since.
Stan Bowman has to make difficult decisions every day. His most recent and controversial decision was to trade away Brandon Saad instead of re-signing him. Although an unpopular decision, Saad received $6 million a year from Columbus, and the Blackhawks would have been very limited in signing other players if they were to pay him that amount. I truly don’t believe Bowman wanted to say goodbye to Saad, but he had to do what was best for the team.
Because the ultimate goal is to win another Stanley Cup. After all, Stan Bowman is named after the Cup. How appropriate. What do you think, Blackhawks fans? Can he make it four?