Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Blackhawks Give in to Bowman Power Play

Sometimes, even organizations that appear to be exceptionally well-run commit exceptional blunders.

It appears to have happened to the Chicago Blackhawks.

Just weeks after a potentially embarrassing flub involving restricted free agent qualifying offers was brought to light, the Blackhawks have fired a guy who might not have been responsible for the blunders at all.

As relayed by FanHouse colleague Adam Gretz, the team has reportedly fired general manager Dale Tallon. The replacement? Assistant general manager Stan Bowman, son of Hall of Fame coach and current senior advisor Scotty Bowman.

(The Blackhawks say Tallon has been "reassigned to Senior Advisor, Hockey Operations", the same position Scotty Bowman currently holds. Something tells me Scotty will have more say.)

My immediate reaction? The Blackhawks brass gave in to the Bowman family power play, aided by the qualifying offer "controversy", which Tallon took full blame for, even though he insisted that the offers were mailed on time.

No, I have nothing to back it up, and I'm sure that many hockey people will step up and insist that Scotty Bowman would never push a guy out of a job. That doesn't matter. Reality is that Scotty Bowman has a voice with Blackhawks brass (John McDonough and Rocky Wirtz). He should have that voice. He's Scotty Bowman, after all. In this case, whether it's right or wrong, Scotty appears to have used that voice to help get his son a valuable promotion.

Is that so Scotty can run the team through his kid? Only time will tell.

This is the second awkwardly-timed firing by the Blackhawks in less than a year. They canned coach Denis Savard four games into what would become a highly-successful 2008-2009 season. His biggest crime? Daring to lose road games against the Rangers and Capitals.

Tallon was hardly perfect in the GM role. He signed huge deals for defenseman Brian Campbell and goalie Cristobal "Ole!" Huet, and he signed 30-year-old Marian Hossa to a 12-year contract.

He also drafted Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane, Dustin Byfuglien, and a host of other young stars on this Chicago team. Not only that, but he engineered brilliant one-sided trades for Patrick Sharp and Kris Versteeg.

Not exactly the picture of incompetence, and not the resume of a guy you'd think just lost his GM job.

The Bowmans -- namely Stan -- will be under the microscope now. Tallon has been a longtime figure in this organization, as a player, broadcaster, and now executive. If Stan Bowman can't step in and continue the building of a championship contender in the Second City, the two-handed shove of Tallon will look all the worse in the end.

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