Chicago Blackhawks: Stan Bowman Burns Us Again

Robin Lehner #40, Chicago Blackhawks (Photo by Chase Agnello-Dean/NHLI via Getty Images)
Robin Lehner #40, Chicago Blackhawks (Photo by Chase Agnello-Dean/NHLI via Getty Images) /

I’ve never been the biggest fan of Chicago Blackhawks’ General Manager Stan Bowman, but I try to remain unbiased on each decision he makes. It’s certainly not always possible, but I try to consider scenarios ahead of time and consider what would be good, bad and satisfactory outcomes beforehand.

For instance, the 2020 NHL Trade Deadline is a great opportunity to predict who could be moved, and what the return or cost may be. It was all but certain that Erik Gustafsson would be dealt at this trade deadline, and it seemed there was a chance that Robin Lehner, Brandon Saad, Corey Crawford, and Drake Caggiula could be moved as well.

We won’t get into who didn’t move, though that’s another interesting conversation that I may address in another piece.

Erik Gustafsson

After a career year in 2018-19, Gustafsson struggled to find that same success this season. This was a fairly predictable outcome, which is why I suggested he be moved before the season began. Realistically, there were only two outcomes; Gustafsson continued his success and priced himself out of Chicago, or regressed and lost considerable trade value.

As we know, the latter happened, and all Bowman was able to acquire was a third-round pick. I figured ahead of time that the absolute best return Gustafsson would bring would be a second-round pick, with even that being a stretch. So, that being said, it’s hard to criticize the return of a third-round pick Bowman brought back too harshly. Still, it’s Bowman’s own fault this situation occurred in the first place.

Robin Lehner

Blackhawks Nation was divided between one of two scenarios; keep Robin Lehner and sign him to a contract extension, or trade him for a sizable return to help Chicago reload for the future. Somehow, Bowman managed to accomplish neither and irritate all Blackhawks fans in the process.

Where some thought Lehner could fetch a first-round pick and promising prospect, Bowman traded him to Vegas for a second-round pick, a middling prospect and an AHL-quality replacement in the form Malcolm Subban. I’m not meaning to bash on Subban here, but he’s got a .890 save percentage so far this season.

After years of being swindled by the Hurricanes due to salary cap crunches, I really thought this might be the year that Bowman could turn the tables on them. On Saturday, Carolina lost both of its NHL goaltenders due to injury in the renowned David Ayres’ game.

The Hurricanes were aggressive at the deadline, held two first-round picks and boast a deep prospect pool, but could conceivably be in trouble with a major goaltending crisis. It seemed like a match made in heaven; even if one of their goaltenders returned sooner than expected, Lehner seems like a big upgrade over either of them, while the Chicago could get a hefty return.

There seemed to be other more apt suitors as well; Florida’s goaltending woes have been well documented, Colorado is missing Philipp Grubauer and Jacob Markstrom just went down for the Canucks.

And for those holding out hope that Lehner will return during this offseason, it sounds like Bowman didn’t really treat him well on the way out:

In Other Words

Bowman has failed the Blackhawks and their fans yet again with the dumpster fire that has been this year’s trade deadline. This latest indiscretion is the breaking point; it’s time for the Blackhawks to hire a new general manager.

I’m not surprised by this anymore. I just wanna know, how much longer will Blackhawks’ fans have to endure this pain?