Tallon's work deserves more attention

December, 23, 2008
As the Chicago Blackhawks roll along at 18-6-7 with the third-best record in the Western Conference, it's time to recognize the man who rebuilt this once-moribund franchise: GM Dale Tallon.

"To be honest, I don't think Dale gets nearly enough credit," Hawks assistant GM Rick Dudley told ESPN.com.

The obvious blueprint was to rebuild through the draft. That was done: In came Patrick Kane, Jonathan Toews, Duncan Keith, Cam Barker, Brent Seabrook … the list goes on.

But there have been key moves as well, such as acquiring forward Kris Versteeg (the NHL's rookie points leader) in exchange for Brandon Bochenski in February 2007.

Or how about getting forward Patrick Sharp (36 goals last season, and 18 already this year) for Matt Ellison and a third-round pick in December 2005?

Signing defenseman Aaron Johnson -- who was a big surprise this season before getting injured -- to a one-year two-way deal also was shrewd.

"I think Dale has done the best job of any GM in the National Hockey League," Dudley said. "We have no player left from the 2003-04 season [the year before Tallon took over], when this team had 59 points.

"I can only tell the truth, and since Dale took the job I don't think anybody has done a better job."

OK, so Dudley is enthusiastic (and perhaps a little biased) in his lauding of Tallon, but the truth remains that the Hawks' GM has done a stand-up job of bringing this organization back from the brink.

Even Tallon's most criticized move of late -- signing goalie Cristobal Huet last summer -- has turned into a positive story. Lately, Huet has taken his game to another level, while partnering with Nikolai Khabibulin in a 1-2 punch in goal that arguably is the best in the NHL.

We mention all this because a rumor persists about Tallon's demise as Hawks GM. But as the wins pile up, the safer Tallon becomes. He shouldn't have been in any trouble to begin with.

Pierre LeBrun

ESPN Senior Writer



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