As the NHL/NHLPA have tentatively agreed to return to the Olympics (barring any severe COVID-19 restrictions), Stan Bowman will lead two teams with high expectations the Blackhawks and team USA.
Stan Bowman… Honestly, I could say a lot about him historically and using current bias at the same time.
Historically, he made dumb decisions that caused the Blackhawks dynasty to completely collapse after a pathetic 2017 postseason, then fired legendary coach Joel Quenneville a day and a half after his nephew’s death. He would waste close to four years of prime Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews, but also the remaining years of Duncan Keith’s value as a number-one defenseman.
Currently, he made moves to bring Chicago back to contention with the additions of Marc-Andre Fleury, Seth Jones, Jake McCabe, and Tyler Johnson. Though Jones’ contract will be an issue in about three to four years (hopefully not sooner) I do think that Jones may return to his original, elite-defenseman form. Stan Bowman has made good moves before, but he made more bad moves to bring skepticism to his “plans”.
Why am I saying this? Because of the recent news that the NHL, NHLPA, and IIHF came to an agreement, Stan Bowman will be tasked with putting together a roster. Not just any roster, though: A roster of NHL players expected to compete for the gold medal in February.
We all know how the 2016 World Cup went: Team USA embarrassed the nation’s reputation in the hockey world, going 0-3 in the group stage, eliminating them before the knock-out stage. Notable names such as Phil Kessel, Tyler Johnson, Kevin Shattenkirk, and Keith Yandle were left off the roster all of whom, at this time, were notable pieces of their respective teams. As this nation’s hockey fans are getting impatient for success, there should be a lot of pressure on Bowman to get the job done right.
It is Bowman’s responsibility to build a championship-caliber roster, and if Team USA flop again Internationally, it will be on Bowman.
Despite the recent years, Bowman does know how to build a contender: He brought together the 2013 and 2015 supporting cast, so he does know what pieces should be included to win. From 2011-2017 the team that defeated the Blackhawks would go on to at least the Western Conference final. Bowman has created strong teams before, and he can most definitely do so again.
But, like Team USA Hockey, the Blackhawks are also trying to rediscover their glory days, and Bowman is the reason why they fell off the mountain. With a Canadian team consisting of Connor McDavid, Nathan Mackinnon, Sidney Crosby, etc. the journey of gold almost certainly goes through Canada. As for the Blackhawks, Patrick Kane is one year older and, at 33, this could be his last chance at the Stanley Cup with the Blackhawks.
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There is a lot riding on this season, not just for the Blackhawks, but Team USA and Stan Bowman will be in charge of finding success for both.