Stan Bowman’s Blackhawks Roster Blow-up Backfiring Big Time

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The party is over now. It’s truly headache and hangover time, Chicago Blackhawks fans.

Sure, four points to reach the playoffs isn’t an insurmountable obstacle, but jumping three teams probably is. Mostly because it’s hard to imagine them playing that much better down the stretch of this hockey season than they have so far. Barring a major trade, this is who they really are and it’s not enough to qualify for the postseason. The Cup was nice, but it’s clear they’re not headed back to the postseason to possibly repeat in 2011.

And with that realization in place, it’s time to label GM Stan Bowman’s off-season purge for what it is- a terrible mismanagement of a precarious situation. And it conveys how Bowman is clearly in way over his head.

By Paul M. Banks

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Now it’s not all Stanley’s fault, but much of it is. Just like how his hockey blue blood family lineage isn’t the only reason he got to where he is at such a young age. But it’s a big part of it.

The man Bowman replaced, ex-GM Dale Tallon, is the one who created the salary cap time bomb. And it was well worth it in order to make a team to finally end the half-century Cup drought, but the post-party clean up leaves a lot to be desired. They kept the four young players of the core in tact (Seabs, Duncan Keith, Kaner, and Tazer), but maybe they should have sacrificed one or two in the name of keeping all the role players?

Maybe if there were a better supporting cast in place right now, superstar Patrick Kane’s alcoholic binges would be less of a story?

The Hawks let a major piece go in Big Buff, and Atlanta has figured out how to use him in ways the Hawks front office never could fathom. And they miss Ben Eager too, especially if they do somehow do get that #8 seed and face Vancouver in the first round. Buffy the Luongo Slayer and Eager got in the Borat lookalike goaltender’s head and in his crease. That’s how they were able to bear the Canucks twice in the playoffs. This year? They don’t have the necessary weapons to beat one of the NHL’s finest.

And the Hawks miss secondary scoring very badly in Andrew Ladd and Kris Versteeg. People really underrated how important that third line offense really is/was.

But the biggest blunder was letting Antti Niemi go to arbitration (a case that was an inevitable loss) and replacing him with Marty Turco. How on Earth could anyone consider this an upgrade? Or even a push?

You need a goalie, especially in the playoffs. And how does getting a smaller, older, less talented goalie strike fear into the hearts of your playoff opponents? We all know how much goaltending matters in the playoffs. Remember how many games in the San Jose series Niemi won all by himself?

And don’t forget the loss of Chicago’s best soundbite, “fourth-liner” forward Adam Burish. By far the most interesting and funniest member of the team (partially because no one else has ever been even remotely interesting to listen to on the team), he could lighten up the locker room and relieve tension in the team when things got tough.

And this year there’s been quite a few of those moments, so his humor is more needed than ever.

Paul M. Banks is CEO of The Sports Bank.net. He is also a regular contributor to the Tribune’s Chicago Now network, Walter Football.com, Yardbarker Network, and Fox Sports.com

He does a weekly radio segment on Chicagoland Sports Radio.com and Cleveland.com

You can follow him on Twitter @thesportsbank

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Comments

  1. I totally agree corey crawford has been a big surprise but still young. And there star players have not really been playing as well.

  2. Agree. The Stanley Cup team was Dale Tallon’s and Stan has done a poor job replacing the players he traded away. Understand the salary cap issue but the replacements don’t even come close to those who left. During today’s Penquins game, Pierre McQuire made a comment that was dead on. The Hawks scored to make it 2-1 and the bench emotion was dead. The camera shots don’t lie. That was a profound comment from a commentator who does not see this team everyday. Apparently it’s pretty obvious. I’m still a big fan but wow!!!

  3. wish I had the time to bring up in the article more about Tallon. Obviously, he could have handled the cap situation and that whole mailing snafu much better.

    Plus I forgot to mention that a big problem is young players growing up and out of their rookie contracts. as they lived up to the potential, market demands more money for their services.

    And I think the long-term outlook isn’t all that bleak, but this year is. And it’s kind of embarrassing to go from title to out of the playoffs

  4. That’s a really telling quote by McGuire, and sums up the season pretty well.

    Basically they’re going to need Crawford to grow up fast and perform at a high level just like Niemi did last year.

    When the summer purge was over, I thought well they were a #2 seed last year, with these changes they’ll be a #4 or #5. to end up #11 is kind of ridiculous.

  5. This is a ridiculous story and observation. What did everyone expect? A repeat? Everyone out there knew the Cup team had to be dismantled. Did everyone think that talent equal to what left was going to come in for less money? Not a chance. I personally think Bowman has done a decent job. The reality is that this team needed to be dismantled and rebuilt. Give the guy a chance. If there is no improvement next year then you can call his decisions failures. Talk about a jumping the gun.

  6. I understand your pt of view, but no one expected them to miss the playoffs. Their play is much worse than even the most pessimistic of preseason expectations. Next year? who knows

  7. Really? There is one person and one person only that is responsible for what happened this offseason and that is the moron Dale Tallon. Bowman came in with his hands tied and did a reasonable job with the situation. With a turnover of that many players, there is not a single team that wouldn’t have been seriously affected.

  8. Tallon still drafted and developed a cup winner, ending a half-century drought. he certainly screwed up a lot at the end, but you can’t designate him a total moron

  9. There is plenty of blame to spread around for this season’s predicament. First, there is Dale Tallon’s foul-ups with offers, forcing him to overpay several players, now departed, to avoid losing them to free agency. Yes, his team won the Cup (and I still celebrate that), those mistakes forced the dismantling of a champion. Second, it is clear that the players Stan Bowman signed or traded for simply are not as good as the players the Hawks lost. Stan’s fault? I don’t know; it seems unlikely that a team will lose the talent the Hawks did and successfully replace it for less money. Banks suggests that Bowman should have considered trading Toews, Kane, Keith or Seabrook. I think Hawks fans would have run Bowman out of Chicago on a rail if he had done that. Finally, with the exception of Patrick Sharp, the “stars” have not played nearly as well as they did last year. Add it all up, and you have a defending champion struggling to squeeze into the playoffs. Hard to watch, but not surprising.

  10. Blackhawk bob says

    brian campbell and his albatross of a contract plus Hossa not playing up to his contract have also hurt

  11. GoingGlobal says

    Look, lets not overreact here. The Hawks are a mere 5 wins from first place. 5 wins. Could you look at this season and pick 5 losses where the team simply did not show up to play? If they make the playoffs they are going to be dangerous. Stan’s done a decent job here. The Hawks are tied for 6th in the conference they are also 4 pts from third. Not bad if you ask me. Considering all the talk ,last year, about how they were going to have to dismantle the team because of cap problems.

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