Thursday afternoon, Blackhawks General Manager Stan Bowman and Head Coach Joel Quenneville met with the media and spoke on Hossa, Mike Kitchen, and moving forward
What seemed like a press conference after a bad loss, Stan Bowman stood at the podium and took questions mostly centered around the news that Marian Hossa will not play the 2017-18 season due to a severe skin allergy. The tone was solemn yet respectful regarding Hossa who some are now debating is the best free agent signing in Chicago sports history.
When asked first about what his plans are to replace Hossa, Bowman said there is currently no formula to do so but the Blackhawks will be evaluating their options before making a decision.
Bowman said he was aware Hossa was dealing with this problem as recent as the World Cup of Hockey that happened just this past September. He also said that Hossa didn’t mention the skin problem at the end of the year, as he was more disappointed with the way the season ended.
Addressing how he will manage the salary cap moving forward, Bowman said his job is to be compliant on day one with a functional team.
Head coach Joel Quenneville spoke very highly of Hossa per usual noting the Hawks are losing “a player of all phases” and “17 minutes of playing the right way.” He said that Hossa never slowed down during his time as a Blackhawk, but even when his production was low, he made a team contribution by playing great defense and making plays away from the puck.
Quenneville said that you don’t really replace a guy like Marian Hossa. And you most certainly won’t find a guy like him out there either.
Mike Kitchen, the NHL Draft, and Changes
A question came up about former assistant coach Mike Kitchen and Bowman answered it swiftly. He said letting go of Kitchen wasn’t an easy decision to make, but the Hawks were looking for something different and are looking forward now.
Quenneville had a different initial reaction to the firing of Kitchen as he said he was not happy that day having to part with someone he’s worked with for a long time, but he has also moved on.
Bowman was also asked about the NHL Draft this weekend and how much the interview process impacts his perspective on prospects. He said that interviews can differentiate players who have similar talent levels, enable you to find a players true motivations, and most importantly help you get a sense of how a player may handle adversity. Bowman says that most prospects have been successful their whole careers thus far and how they fight through adversity in situations when they’re not the best player on the ice shows him a lot about that player.
Lastly, an interesting comment that came out when Joel Quenneville was at the podium regarded young players. With Hossa not playing next year, Quenneville said that the ‘Hawks young players will have to step up into new roles. He said ” I don’t mind young guys at all… I can’t wait to get to work with them.” Quenneville has been known to trust his veteran players far more than the inexperienced young players on the team, especially during the playoffs.