One of the most popular talking points last season as the Chicago Blackhawks were busy winning the Stanley Cup was about how the win might be a one-year wonder.
The Blackhawks were going to be victims of the new NHL where managing salary cap has become as important as finding someone who can play.
The Hawks were blessed with some of the most talented — and least-expensive — young players in the league, young players who were key elements of their Stanley Cup victory.
But with their rookie-cap contracts expiring, the Hawks knew they would have to re-sign stars like Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane and Duncan Keith to big contracts. It would put them over the salary cap forcing them to shed players who helped them to their first Stanley Cup win since 1961.
The list of players gone is impressive, led by playoff star Dustin Byfuglien and goaltender Antti Niemi. Among others gone are Ben Eager, Brent Sopel, John Madden and Kris Versteeg.
Start the death march?
Not according to Scott Bowman and when a man who has the most wins as a coach in NHL history and won five Stanley Cups says not to jump to conclusions, you’d better keep your feet on the ground.
“They may have lost some players but their nucleus is basically the same,” Bowman said. “They have a good farm system. Players like Kane, Toews, Keith, Brent Seabrook, David Bolland are all still there. They have to add some pieces and they already have. You have to remember that some of the guys that are no longer here played a lot better in the playoffs than they did in the regular season.
“It is what it is. Chicago signed their five or six top players. A lot of teams don’t have five or six top players.”
Bowman is entering his third year as a consultant with the Blackhawks. The former coach of the Montreal Canadiens and Detroit Red Wings, among others, will be in London for a special charity event on Oct, 16.
The event includes dinner and a Bowman speech. Earlier in the day, he will be at the Hermitage Club where he will chat and sign autographs or anything else.
It is all in an effort to help raise money for Robbie Stilson, his 4˝-year old great nephew who was born with a rare genetic condition called Pachygyria. Money raised will be used to purchase a wheelchair lift van to help with Robbie’s mobility.
Bowman says the Hawks were in a unique position because their top players were also their youngest.
“When Kane, Toews and Keith are making $3 million and you re-sign them for more money, deservedly so, for about $18 million, it doesn’t take much math to know that $15 million has to disappear,” Bowman said. “The effect of having players being a bargain last year allowed them to win the Stanley Cup.”
Bowman also said that since everyone was aware of the Hawks’ financial situation, it made dealing players and getting what the Hawks consider fair value, a little more difficult.
“We couldn’t take anybody back that was signed to a contract. We weren’t in a bargaining position,” Bowman said. “No one is going to give you good young players because they need them themselves.”
Despite the difficulties, Bowman thinks the Hawks did well.
As part of a Byfuglien trade, the Hawks got 19-year-old Jeremy Morin, who almost made the main roster.
In a deadline trade last March, they got Nick Leddy, another 19-year-old who will start on defence for the Hawks.
“He might have made the team even if Brian Campbell didn’t get hurt,” Bowman said. “He can play.
“You can rebuild quickly with good young players. Look at Colorado. They have great young players like (Matt) Duchene and (Ryan) O’Reilly.”
Bowman is enjoying his time as a consultant. He left the Wings to be with son Stan who is now the Hawks general manager.
“Winning made it a lot easier transformation.”
IF YOU GO
An Evening with Scotty Bowman
Dinner and a Silent Auction
Saturday, Oct. 16
Wolseley Barracks Officers Mess
Cocktails: 6:30-Cash Bar
For more info contact:
Nancy Haley at 519-471-3322 or
All proceeds from the evening will go to Robbie Stilson to be used to purchase a van with a wheelchair lift.
An Afternoon with Scotty Bowman
Saturday, Oct. 16
The Hermitage Club
1040 Commissioners Road
4 to 5 p.m.
Fans are asked to be there by 3 p.m. so they can take part in prize giveaways.
All proceeds from donations will go to Robbie Stilson Fund to be used to purchase a van with a wheelchair lift.