Dale Tallon had worked tirelessly to put together a young and talented core of players that are supposed to bring the Stanley Cup back to Chicago.From the time he was named general manager of the Blackhawks in the summer of 2005,
Now it will be up to his former assistant to see it through.
The Hawks announced Tuesday that Tallon has been reassigned to Senior Advisor, Hockey Operations and replaced in the GM's chair by Stan Bowman, the son of legendary coach Scotty Bowman and an assistant GM for the past two seasons.
Stan Bowman, who has a finance background, has been with the Blackhawks for the last eight seasons. He spent four as the special assistant to the GM, two as director of hockey operations and the last two as an assistant GM.
Scotty Bowman remains on the Hawks' payroll, also as Senior Advisor, Hockey Operations.
"I would say that any time you make a change there is not a right time to make any of these decisions," Blackhawks President John McDonough said. "We now are about six weeks out from the end of the season, and we take a look at every single aspect of our business operation. Some of the areas that I think we need to improve on are the decision-making areas. How decisions are made, who is involved, timetables that are involved, just the process. I think we will improve that."
Tallon has been with the organization for more than 30 years. On Tuesday McDonough praised him for his role in helping reshape the Hawks into a Stanley Cup contender.
However, Tallon recently came under fire for sending qualifying offers late to eight restricted free agents. McDonough said that had that snafu not happened, Tallon likely still would be the GM.
"Probably not," McDonough said when he was asked if Tallon would have been reassigned had the offers had gone out in time. He said he was not thinking about reassigning Tallon prior to July 1.
Tallon insisted the offers were sent out prior to the June 30 deadline, but the eight RFAs -- Cam Barker, Kris Versteeg, Corey Crawford, Ben Eager, Colin Fraser, Troy Brouwer, Aaron Johnson and Bryan Bickell -- received them after the deadline. They were mailed, but the Blackhawks had a two-week window to send out the offers.
The NHL Players Association filed a grievance, but the Hawks signed all eight players to new contracts. Barker and Versteeg, a Calder Trophy finalist, received three-year deals reportedly worth roughly $9 million; Tallon said both were "fair-market value" deals, though both were far more than the players made in 2008-09.
Tallon initially took the blame for the tardiness of the qualifying offers, but on Tuesday McDonough threw himself on the sword, saying that as president of the organization, ultimately the mistake lies with him.
Nevertheless, he believes the Blackhawks' front-office staff needs to do a better job of communicating.
"I just think we should be better at doing our business," McDonough said. "This should be something that should have been solved. Ultimately that's my mistake. I believe that the timeframe on this is June 15 to June 30, and I believe we could have done a better job."
While saying the mistake of sending the qualifying offers out too late played a role in his decision to re-assign Tallon and promote Bowman, McDonough threw cold water on the idea that he and Tallon had a frigid relationship.
Tallon was the lone front-office staffer from the regime of late owner Bill Wirtz to have the same job.
"People have been talking the last year about some friction between Dale and I, and I would say there have been some style differences," McDonough said. "I might be characterized as aggressive, assertive and at the same time calculated. Dale's (style) was every bit (as) effective, but just a different approach. Ultimately the president of the organization is accountable and I need information.
"I think that within a period of time, Dale and I worked very, very effectively together. There were certainly times I would have liked to see smoother and better communications."
McDonough and Bowman insisted Tallon still is very much in the front-office picture. He had his contract, which would have expired at the end of the 2009-10 season, extended another two years.
Bowman said he will use Tallon as a guide and mentor. McDonough said Tallon is needed to make the transition go smoothly.
Tallon, who was not present at the news conference, said in a statement released by the team that "although my position has changed, my goals have not. In my new role as Senior Advisor, Hockey Operations, I will continue in any way that will help make this a better product on the ice. I've seen Stan come up through our ranks and I'm confident he is the right person to step in. This is what is best for the Chicago Blackhawks."
Bowman's job won't be easy. While Tallon put together the roster, Bowman will be tasked with trying to keep the Blackhawks' young core together in a salary-cap world.
With hefty contracts already doled out to Marian Hossa, Brian Campbell, Cristobal Huet and Patrick Sharp, plus the prospect of the salary cap going down next summer, there are serious questions as to how the Hawks will be able to keep everyone they want to keep.
Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane and Duncan Keith will be due new contracts after the 2009-10 season. Brent Seabrook and Dustin Byfuglien are up for new deals after 2010-11.
"A lot is going to happen between now and then," Bowman said. "We don't know what the salary cap is going to be and what our team makeup will be a year from now. There are a number of variables, so it's hard to speculate. Our desire through all this is to keep our core together. We want to build an elite franchise here by building with our core players."
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