Chicago Blackhawks: Stan Bowman is here to stay with latest promotion
By Jeremiah Lee
Stan Bowman has been promoted to the role of President of Hockey Operations while remaining as General Manager of the Chicago Blackhawks.
Well Blackhawks fans, the news that Stan Bowman was not fired, but promoted, came out yesterday. With this new position, he will oversee and control every aspect of the Chicago Blackhawks’ hockey operations. What does this mean?
Stan Bowman is not going anywhere. He did make some good moves in the position. Just not recently. In this article, I will cover some of the good moves (more like single good move) he did in recent memory and the bad moves.
Looking at his past achievements of three Stanley Cups in the salary-cap era, constructing a President’s Trophy-winning roster in 2013, and assembling what looks to be one of the best scouting operations in the NHL, he did do quite well before 2017-18.
The scouts found gems in the second round in Alex Debrincat and Ian Mitchell, maybe the future starting goaltender in Drew Commesso, and took Landon Slaggert, who just made the Team USA roster for the World Junior Championships, in round 3 this year.
They are also responsible for the discoveries of Artemi Panarin and Dominik Kubalik from Europe (the ‘Hawks traded a fifth-round pick for Kubalik), and both have been making an impact. Kirby Dach looks to be a potential superstar who is improving by the day, and the prospect pool is one of the deepest in the league.
The pick was (and probably still is by some) ridiculed because Bowen Byram was still on the board, but it is starting to look like the ‘Hawks made the right decision. We can say all we want about how Stan Bowman is personally running the NHL roster, but his scouting department has been on point.
Now, the bad (and cautiously optimistic) part. Stan Bowman is still running the Chicago Blackhawks roster.
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With a lackluster few seasons, an over-reaction to mess up the Western Conference top-seeded team in 2016-17 (I don’t even have to give examples of this, it still fresh in everyone’s mind, but the initials are AP and NH), bad contracts, and sending quality prospects for rentals or sending a prospect to persuade teams to take on the bad contracts, it’s understandable why fans will be upset about this announcement.
His mistakes and over-paying players as a reward for their past achievements ruined the ‘Hawk’s championship window. Brent Seabrook is, at the moment, a third-pairing defenseman when it comes to match-ups. He’s just not fast enough to keep up with the opposition so he will most likely see time against the opponent’s third line.
If his surgery helps his mobility, then maybe second pairing but I don’t think he can keep up with the young stars in the league. He is currently getting paid 6.875 million per year, something you would pay a defenseman who you can match up against the league’s best, until 2024. With a flat cap for the time being, that is not a good signing.
He was at the top of his game at the time of the signing, but had a steep decline I don’t think the ‘Hawks expected. Bryan Bickell is another player who was overpaid and was traded, along with Teuvo Teravainen as a sweetener, to the Carolina Hurricanes when the ‘Hawks were capped out.
His coaching staff also raises eyebrows but does bring cautious optimism. After firing Joel Quenneville, he hired the young Jeremy Colliton to lead the team. In my opinion, he should have given Colliton more time in the AHL to prove himself as a coach then hire him after Quenneville’s contract was up, or even promote him to an NHL assistant coach to learn from the best.
Instead, Stan threw Colliton to the wolves and he got devoured in his first season. He couldn’t keep up with the veteran coaches, and was out-coached on multiple occasions. He shows glimpses of improvement and the makings of a good coach in the future, but his current defensive system is lacking and still hasn’t been changed.
Stan Bowman then hires question mark assistant coaches in Sheldon Brookbank and Tomas Mitell. Brookbank was not exactly impressive as a player, mainly on the roster to provide toughness and physicality. And he is tasked to teach a young Blackhawks defense core, each one with a skilled playstyle who will poke check rather than dish out a hit.
The hiring left me very confused on how he can improve the team as his job is to mentor prospects who play a style that is completely different from his. Tomas Mitell did help lead a European team (with Colliton) to a franchise setting season, but that’s in Europe. As we all know, success in Europe does sometimes lead to success in the NHL for Blackhawks players, but not so much for the coaches.
The entire coaching staff is young, minus Marc Crawford, so they, too, could benefit from the rebuild to sharpen their coaching skills and improve strategies. And maybe learn a thing or two from a Stanley Cup winning head coach in Marc Crawford (won in 1996 with the Colorado Avalanche).
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All in all, Stan Bowman will remain as GM of the Chicago Blackhawks for the time being. Though I don’t like what he did in the past, he did assemble a reliable scouting operation to help him stock up on quality prospects for the rebuild. I am pessimistic about the future with him as the GM but he, and the coaches, could prove me wrong in the seasons to come. The team has the making and potential to make it back to the glory days within a few years, but Stan Bowman cannot afford to make any more drastic mistakes to get them there.