Chicago Blackhawks: Front office

GM: Quenneville extension on the agenda

June, 26, 2013
QuennevilleAP Photo/Charles Rex ArbogastHawks coach Joel Quenneville has one year remaining on his contract.
Chicago Blackhawks general manager Stan Bowman said an extension for coach Joel Quenneville is one of many offseason issues the team will address after winning its second Stanley Cup in four seasons.

"Yeah, that's on the topic of a lot of things that we have to cover here," Bowman said Wednesday on "The Waddle & Silvy Show" on ESPN Chicago 1000. "In the next few days we've got a draft to prepare for (on Sunday), we've got some players to re-sign whose deals are up and we've got some other things leading into the draft.

"Normally we'd be getting ready for the draft about four or five days ahead of time. This year it's tough because we've still got things to close out with our season here. We're going to get to a lot of things in the next few weeks and Joel will be a big part of it."

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Stan Bowman likes Hawks roster

January, 13, 2013
Powers By Scott Powers
CHICAGO -- Chicago Blackhawks general manager Stan Bowman said Sunday he likes the Blackhawks’ current roster and is unlikely to search for any players through trade in the near future.

“I guess it’s possible, but it’s unlikely,” Bowman said during a news conference at the United Center. “At this point, we feel strong with the depth that we do have. We have to see it how to plays out.

“We certainly like the young players who have been playing in Rockford. We also got a number of players who were playing in Europe as well. So we got quite a few guys ready to play. ... Personnel-wise, we certainly have a lot of pieces we like. ...We’re just excited to see how it looks when we start playing. But we’re going to see what this group can start doing first.”

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Hawks intent on winning over fans

January, 13, 2013
Powers By Scott Powers
CHICAGO -- Chicago Blackhawks president/CEO John McDonough vowed Sunday the Blackhawks would do whatever they have to win back their fans following the NHL’s four-month lockout.

“The message to our fans is very simple,” McDonough said at a news conference at the United Center. “We are going to have to earn our way back. We do take any of this for granted -- their loyalty. And we have an organizational commitment to win. Our expectations here, as always, are very high, and we are totally committed to winning.

“Again to our fans, we don’t take any of this for granted. It was a difficult period for all of us. But we certainly respect and understand it was particularly difficult for you. And we’re going to do everything we can to earn their allegiance back.”

McDonough wouldn’t get into specifics, but he said the Blackhawks would reveal “fan initiatives” later in the week.

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Stan not worrying about free-agent misses

July, 5, 2012
Rogers By Jesse Rogers
Zach Parise, Ryan SuterGetty ImagesStan Bowman said the proximitiy to their hometowns influenced Zach Parise and Ryan Suter.
Chicago Blackhawks general manager Stan Bowman confirmed Wednesday that his team made offers to high-profile free agents Ryan Suter, Zach Parise and Martin Brodeur before missing out on all three.

Suter and Parise signed with the Minnesota Wild on Wednesday morning, turning down offers from multiple teams, including the Hawks.

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Will a new Q be the Hawks' biggest change?

May, 22, 2012
Rogers By Jesse Rogers
BlackhawksJeff Vinnick/NHLI/Getty ImagesLook for Joel Quenneville to use ice time as a reward and punishment next season.
Chicago Blackhawks fans must be wondering: What's the biggest offseason change coming for a team that underachieved in the 2011-12 campaign?

Surprisingly, the answer may not come in the form of roster changes. There'll be some new players, of course, but in order for a blockbuster trade to happen the Hawks would most likely have to move from their core group, something general manager Stan Bowman said he's not fixated on doing.

There will be some free-agent signings, as there always are, but with Patrick Sharp's new contract kicking in and all the other core players signed to big deals there isn't a lot of money to go around. The Hawks can make one decent splash -- if they choose to -- but that's about it. Everything else is filling in some blanks at the bottom end of the roster both on offense and defense. At least that's what it looks like here in late May. If, say, Nashville defenseman Ryan Suter wants to come to Chicago at a decent rate then things might change, but all in all, the Hawks have their core group and a few ancillary younger players to maneuver with as they head into 2012-13.

So what will be the biggest change?

Joel Quenneville.

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Does Hawks' 'dysfunction' start at the top?

May, 9, 2012
Rogers By Jesse Rogers
Quenneville-Bowman AP Photo/Nam Y. HuhStan Bowman has given Joel Quenneville more responsibility, which carries inherent risks.
CHICAGO -- Chicago Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville opened the door for plenty of speculation when he said on Tuesday there was "dysfunction" among his coaching staff with regard to the firing of assistant Mike Haviland.

The picture emerging from West Madison Street is one of dysfunction that extends beyond just the coaching staff. Whispers and rumors of dissension beyond the normal back and forth of a team trying to achieve its goals have been rampant. And for good reason. The situation boils down to two camps: Quenneville's and the Bowmans (general manager Stan and senior advisor Scotty).

Each side lost an ally over the last week when Marc Bergevin (Quenneville) left for Montreal and Haviland (Bowman) was fired on Tuesday. With Haviland's firing -- by Quenneville -- a line was drawn in the sand: This is his team, his coaching staff and the results will be on them. He will choose who replaces Haviland and the power to do so is the first Quenneville has had with the Hawks.

"[Bowman] did offer me the opportunity for the first time since I've been here to look if I need [to make] a change to our coaching staff," Quenneville said in a conference call with reporters on Tuesday.

That's a far cry from this past season when the line between coaching and the front office was as muddled as it could get. Maybe it was inevitable given the set-up. When the younger Bowman was hired as a first-time general manager at age 37 he instantly became the boss of a seasoned veteran coach. To boot, Bowman's father was a senior advisor who was commonly known as the best hockey coach in the history of the game. Can it really come as a surprise, when things went south, dysfunction would reign?

It's exactly when things started to go bad on the ice that the rift between front office and coaching became noticeable. In the midst of a nine-game losing streak in February, Scotty Bowman accompanied the team on the road and saw first-hand the problems the Hawks were having on special teams. Not long afterward, director of player development Barry Smith was asked to help with some coaching duties. But not by Quenneville, according to multiple sources. Smith is a Bowman confidant and the unusual idea of helping a Stanley Cup-winning coach came from Scotty. Quenneville wasn't given a choice in the matter, according to the sources. In fact, it was at that point that assistant Mike Kitchen's job was in jeopardy. But Kitchen is a Quenneville confidant. So Kitchen stayed, and Smith was forced upon Quenneville, no matter the coach's public proclamations of his acceptance of help.

Smith took an active role talking to players and instructing the special teams. It prompted one member of the hockey community to say Smith's involvement was undermining Quenneville. "And the whole coaching fraternity knows it," a source said.

Smith kept the front office appraised of on-ice matters and while the special teams improved incrementally with Smith's involvement, they regressed as the regular season wound down. Things came to a head on the final day of the regular season in Detroit. Multiple sources said there was a loud argument between Quenneville and Smith during which loyalties were questioned. It was the last the team saw of Smith. He never again ran a practice, and his travel with the team was limited to Game 5 against Phoenix. Quenneville eventually won that battle and now has full control of the coaching staff, but he certainly doesn't have full control of personnel. It's assumed he has control of how that personnel is used, but even that is in question.

Kane at center

On purpose or not, a difference of opinions became apparent at the Hawks' end-of-year news conference. Stan Bowman said of Patrick Kane, "Having him in the middle, he's certainly better than any other center that's available." It wasn't even completely clear if Bowman meant on the market or on the Hawks, but does it matter? His views are clear: He likes Kane at center. It was Bowman's idea in the first place to play Kane in the middle when the team didn't acquire a second-line center last offseason.

Quenneville, on the other hand, was high on Marcus Kruger and the job he did in a role he was thrust into when Kane was moved back to wing. Quenneville praised Kane's work in the middle but left most of the accolades for Kruger, calling Kane "a nice option."

The difference of opinion came on the ice as well. If Kane was best for the team at center -- as Bowman said in the news conference -- then why was he ever moved from the middle?

[+] EnlargePatrick Kane
Marc DesRosiers/US PresswireIt's believed one subject the Hawks' front office doesn't agree on is whether Patrick Kane should play center, where Stan Bowman believes Kane is a solid option.
Kane played the entire middle portion of the season back at wing. He returned to center when Jonathan Toews went down with a concussion, playing well there the final month of the season. But at the most important point of the year -- the postseason -- Kane was back at wing. He moved back to center again only when Kruger faltered early in the series against the Coyotes.

The bottom line is it appears Quenneville does not believe the Hawks can win a championship with Kane at center. On top of it, other NHL head coaches have expressed privately their satisfaction with Kane playing center, according to sources. Opposing teams want him to have to play a 200-foot game. Common thinking is, any moment of attention or energy on the defensive end takes away from his offensive prowess. If Quenneville has truly been given full power for all on-ice personnel decisions moving forward, then don't expect Kane at center unless under dire circumstances.

Special Teams

Stan Bowman put the Hawks special teams problems squarely on Quenneville. He was asked if he was satisfied with the coaching with regard to the power play.

"The results speak for themselves," he said. "They were a huge disappointment this year. It's unacceptable to have the caliber of players we have and not have it work. That's a question Joel is probably better able to answer. That's more of a coaching thing than anything. ... For whatever reason ours didn't work. We need to be better in that area. There is no doubt about that."

And to answer that remark, Quenneville eventually fired Haviland but not Kitchen. Haviland was part of the coaching staff that won a Stanley Cup in 2010. Kitchen has been part of one that has overseen two first-round exits. Quenneville has been purposely able to deflect blame for the special teams woes on all coaches, and it's extremely hard to discern who was at fault where, so he has plausible deniability when it comes to explaining why Haviland and not Kitchen was let go. All were seen using the chalkboard in practice and players said all were involved instructing them. Quenneville denied his friendship played a part in Kitchen staying on but the fact remains the coach that Quenneville inherited is gone and his good friend is still here.


Why is all this important?

All along, the younger Bowman was telling his bosses the Hawks had enough personnel to win, and when things didn't go their way in the second half of the season the elder Bowman took steps -- in the form of Smith -- to prove it was on coaching and not personnel. Those steps undermined the authority of Quenneville. And that's something players pick up on immediately. It wouldn't be a surprise if more than one wondered who was in charge.

Maybe a compromise has been struck. No more front office meddling and now the blame -- or credit -- can fall squarely on Quenneville's shoulders. Unfortunately, coaching and personnel are always intertwined. Look at the Kane situation as evidence. The question is can the two sides coexist to bring another championship to Chicago?

CEO John McDonough is an obvious supporter of Scotty Bowman and Quenneville. If he has to choose it's still not clear who would win out. With more defined battle lines, it should become much clearer over the next 12 months.

Quenneville quashes Montreal rumors

May, 8, 2012
Chicago Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville said Tuesday that despite speculation he has no plans to head to the Montreal Canadiens, where friend and former Hawks assistant general manager Marc Bergevin is now the GM.

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Special-teams assist ruffled no feathers

March, 20, 2012
Isaacson By Melissa Isaacson
CHICAGO -- When Chicago Blackhawks Director of Player Development Barry Smith took the ice during practice last month to help the team improve its special teams play during its nine-game losing streak, observers wondered if the unorthodox move caused any behind-the-scenes tension.

Smith, the right-hand man of Hawks senior advisor Scotty Bowman during much of Bowman’s Hall of Fame career and a part of five Stanley Cup championships, did, in fact, help improve the Hawks’ penalty kill almost immediately.

But one Toronto paper linked the move to perceived dysfunction in the Hawks’ front office, a suggestion at which team owner Rocky Wirtz scoffed.

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Bowman gives Coach Q vote of confidence

February, 13, 2012
Chicago Blackhawks general manager Stan Bowman gave coach Joel Quenneville a vote of confidence on Monday, despite the team's eight-game winless streak.

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Blackhawks GM confident in goalies

February, 3, 2012
Rogers By Jesse Rogers
CALGARY, Alberta -- Chicago Blackhawks general manager Stan Bowman is already on record saying he's looking to trade for a defenseman before the deadline on Feb. 27. But on Friday he stood by his goaltenders, in particular, Corey Crawford.

"I'm happy with the guys we have," Bowman said before his team took on the Calgary Flames. "We need to be stronger in that area but they've proven they're good goaltenders. [Thursday] night it wasn't a good performance, but just two nights before that Corey had a great game."

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Blackhawks GM in no rush to make deal

November, 18, 2011
Rogers By Jesse Rogers
CALGARY, Alberta -- With the recent demotion of forward Rostislav Olesz, the Chicago Blackhawks have between $6 million and $7 million of cap space to spend if they want to make a deal.

But as the NHL's best team entering play Friday, they aren't in any rush.

"We do have more cap space than we've had before," general manager Stan Bowman said before his club took on Calgary Friday night. "When the time is right, if the opportunity comes we won't be hesitant to move on it. Right now we don't have any things that we're close to doing or looking at, but we're always looking ahead about what might be there. We'll see what happens."

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Chris Campoli won't be a Blackhawk

July, 15, 2011
Rogers By Jesse Rogers
CHICAGO -- Defenseman Chris Campoli won’t be back with the Chicago Blackhawks, according to general manager Stan Bowman.

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Hawks working to build cost-effective roster

June, 27, 2011
Rogers By Jesse Rogers
Make that 13 Stanley Cup-winning Chicago Blackhawks from the 2010 roster who have moved on, after Tomas Kopecky was traded to the Florida Panthers on Monday. And that number doesn’t include Cristobal Huet, who won’t play another game for the Hawks, or Jordan Hendry, who might not either.

It could be the biggest turnover of a championship roster in just over a year that the NHL has ever seen. The difference between this summer and the last one is general manager Stan Bowman isn’t being forced to make these moves, as he was a year ago. He’s doing them willingly.

The three latest players who left, Kopecky, Troy Brouwer and Brian Campbell, all conceivably would have been overpaid entering the 2011-12 campaign. Campbell’s situation is well documented and while Brouwer and Kopecky were nice players, they were due raises into the $2-million range and both could have ended up playing fourth-line minutes.

[+] EnlargeTomas Kopecky
Bill Smith/Getty ImagesAdd Tomas Kopecky to the long list of Cup-winning Blackhawks cut loose by the team in just over a year.
Kopecky getting dealt to Florida was a head scratcher from the Panthers' angle. He's set to be an unrestricted free agent come Friday, and while he had a decent season, he's hardly a player that will instigate a bidding war. Panthers GM Dale Tallon gave up a pick for him when he could have gotten him for nothing at the end of the week. And Tallon has more cap money to spend than anyone in the league. Bowman must have wondered what the catch was for a moment before agreeing. Kopecky has some leverage now, because if he doesn’t sign with Florida, Tallon will come out of it looking bad.

Bowman is simply setting up his roster so he can get close to full value throughout. As the saying goes, this is business, not personal.

Just like last offseason, the Blackhawks who were jettisoned are talented, but don’t fit the team's plans at the prices they were commanding. With the news that Jake Dowell might not return, since the Hawks did not extend a “qualifying” offer to him, the shedding might be complete.

It’s time to add, starting with the re-signing of Chris Campoli, Michael Frolik and Viktor Stalberg. Expect quick and bloodless negotiations, though the restricted free agents don’t have to be signed by Friday when free agency begins. It’s doubtful any will be extended an offer sheet as Niklas Hjalmarsson was last July.

As for Dowell, the fourth-line center simply didn’t live up to the gritty two-way player the Hawks envisioned. He’s not expensive, but the Hawks don’t want to be tied to a one-way contract as they explore rebuilding that trio. A two-way contract could be in the cards for Dowell if he doesn’t find another team to offer better.

Friendly faces

The relationship between the Hawks and their former front office employees has been interesting to watch, to say the least. Last summer, Bowman and Rick Dudley, then with Atlanta, pulled off the blockbusters. This time, it was Bowman and his predecessor, Tallon.

Tallon did the Hawks a huge favor by taking on Campbell’s contract. It’s doubtful anyone else would have. Listening to him at the NHL draft this past weekend, he sounded like a man still wanting to justify the money and years he gave Campbell in 2008 while he was the GM in Chicago and Campbell was a big-ticket free agent. But Joel Quenneville didn’t play him like a $7-million man, and maybe the Panthers will. Bowman and another former Hawks’ GM, Bob Murray, have also done business since the former took over the job in 2009.

For those pining for a return of some of the other championship pieces who exited, ironically, the Hawks now have money to afford some of them back if they desire. John Madden and Brent Sopel are available and both undoubtedly would love to return. Adam Burish is signed for one more year in Dallas and his cap hit is $1.15 million. That seemed like a king’s ransom a year ago, but it’s exactly in line with what the Hawks can -- and probably will -- spend to help rebuild their fourth line. Ben Eager is also available, and the Hawks already kicked the tires on reacquiring him last season before he was eventually moved to San Jose.

“Sometimes you target players, and we do have a little bit more room now to make sure we get guys that we value at that position,” Bowman said of the fourth line on Saturday at the NHL draft. “It’s an important thing.”

Reacquiring players who won the Cup just because they won the Cup is shortsighted and way too sentimental for an NHL general manager. But in the case of a few of these names, it might not be a bad thing.

Burish, Madden and Sopel are capable of providing some of what went missing last season, in terms of character in the dressing room. They also play a role which Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane were weary of even before the latest trades: they’re all good interviews. Especially Burish.

Campbell, Brouwer and even Kopecky were all willing and able whenever a microphone was placed in front of them. Every interview they did was one less Kane and Toews had to do. And those stars appreciated it. Burish might talk too much for a coach’s liking, but if he takes pressure off other players, there is plenty of value in it. Of course, the Hawks would have to deal for him, but they have plenty of trading chips with the plethora of players they’ve acquired since last offseason..

New faces

Of course, there are plenty of other players that fit the Hawks’ needs and salary structure who will be available come Friday.

Zenon Konopka, Joel Ward, Mike Rupp, Jamal Mayers and Aaron Asham are some names that could fit the bill. Some might be too old, or not the right fit, but the point is the Hawks can pick and choose instead of being left with scraps. Maybe former Hawk Michael Handzus will get a look. Replacing one Slovak with another would make at least one Hawk happy.

A case could be made it was wrong for any of the players to be moved in the last three days, but the case for the trades is stronger. It starts and ends with the flexibility the trades provide the Hawks moving forward. The purge (part II) is over. Now starts the retooling.

Blackhawks extend Scotty Bowman's contract

June, 15, 2011
Rogers By Jesse Rogers
The Chicago Blackhawks promoted three members of its front office staff and extended the contract of senior adviser Scotty Bowman, the team announced Wednesday.

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Source: Cheveldayoff offered Winnipeg job

June, 5, 2011
LeBrun By Pierre LeBrun
The owners of Winnipeg's NHL franchise, having told Rick Dudley he won't be retained as general manager, have offered the position to Chicago Blackhawks assistant GM Kevin Cheveldayoff, a source tells

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Patrick Kane
21 8 13 -2
GoalsJ. Toews 10
AssistsP. Kane 13
+/-N. Hjalma... 8
GAAC. Crawford 1.98