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BLOG: Bowman Speaks on Opening Half of Season

Key points from SVP/GM Stan Bowman's media availability on Tuesday just past the halfway point of the 2019-20 season

by Chris Kuc @ChrisKuc / Blackhawks.com

Not long after the Blackhawks left the ice following their morning skate in preparation for Tuesday night's game against the Flames at the United Center, Senior Vice President/General Manager Stan Bowman met with the media to discuss a variety of topics.

Here are some of the highlights:

Video: Stan Bowman Part 1

On if the Blackhawks are becoming the team he envisioned this season…
I think we've played our best hockey probably over the last couple weeks, looking at our record. It did take a little bit of time to get everything together. We did have spurts of it earlier in the year where we played well, but we couldn't sustain it enough probably to get enough wins on the board. We've played better lately and now we've got to build on that, so consistency is probably the hardest part to nail for this team so far.

On the development of youngsters Adam Boqvist and Kirby Dach
Those two players are going to be a big part of our future. I think we've expected to build around them going forward. But they're young players so you can't put too much on their shoulders. In Kirby's case, he missed a lot of training camp with the concussion and we worked him in slowly the first probably 10, 15 games but now I think you're seeing just scratching the surface of what he can become. He certainly looks more comfortable out there. I think we're giving him a bigger role. His minutes have gone up over the past month and deservingly so - he's played well so I expect that to continue.

But it is hard for those young players to be given the task of leading a team. I think they can grow into that role over the next year, year-and-a-half where they can take bigger parts of the responsibly. But right now, we're trying to get them acclimated to the league. 

In Adam's case, he's a little bit older than Kirby, but he's still pretty young for a defenseman to be in the NHL. He just turned 19 at the end of the summer. He's got that ability to create offense. We've seen him score a couple goals and I expect him to be the kind of defenseman that can put the puck in the net. It's a valuable asset in today's game and he's held his own defensively. I've been very pleased with the way he's played. He has to defend a little bit differently because he's not a big guy but he's got a good stick and his reading of the play has really improved. He's understanding how to play against really good players and do well in his own end.

On rookie winger Alex Nylander...
I think it's a mixed performance. I thought he's had some great games this year and … we've seen it with some of our other young guys (it) is trying to get it consistency out of them. Alex had flashes were he was really effective and I think sometimes he needs to just gain more reliability both ways. But (I'm) still encouraged by what he's shown and I think if we can get his best game it can really impact us in a positive way.

On using available salary-cap space...
Well, we have the flexibility to do it. Right now, we're not chasing down any trades. I think part of this time of the year is to have some conversations with other managers to see where they're at. I think everyone's trying to assess their team. It's been half a season (and) some trends have emerged. Some teams are struggling in certain areas. We're missing some players out of our lineup right now, but we've been able to have other guys step up, so it's been nice to see that happen. Financially, we can fit some other players in. Whether we're going to make moves or not, we'll just have to see what comes down the pipe. We don't have anything we're close to right now.

Video: Stan Bowman Part 2

On if the Blackhawks are a postseason-contending team...
Well, we're right there. We're a little bit behind the pack - a couple points. But it's a pretty tight pack that are fighting to get into that (last) spot. We've got a lot of hockey left, so at this point I think the biggest excitement is just the fact that even though we've had five veterans out of the lineup, we've had some young players step up. In particular, Dach and Boqvist have taken a step forward and they've shown that they can help our team win. That's something that is progress from where we were in October with our young players. Really the biggest way our team is going to improve is for those players to continue to progress in their career and help the veterans because the veterans know what it takes to get into the playoff and make a push because they've done it before. The young guys don't, but if they keep on their path forward, I think it bodes well for the team.

On coach Jeremy Colliton...
Jeremy has a great approach to things. Even when things were frustrating where we weren't getting the results early on, he stuck with it. Positive demeanor, communicates really well with the players-that's the one thing, when you have a young team, you need to have a lot of information flow back and forth between the coaching staff. He's done a great job of incorporating all of his coaches into the mix and making sure that our players are getting the information that they need. He's certainly settled into his role right now.

It's been a little bit over a year that he's been behind the bench with us, and certainly his knowledge of the league, it's one thing you can study it from a distance, but now that he's been through over a year and he knows the league better, that's one thing that has helped him understand the different coaches you're going against. You can study it from afar, but until you're coaching against someone, you don't really know their tendencies and adjustments in-game and Jeremy has done a very good job this year of making little changes to help our team win.

On goaltender Robin Lehner...
It's been a consistent refrain from everyone how great our goaltending has been. For the longest time there, it was pretty much going back and forth (with Corey Crawford), but then Robin really got going. He got injured, but it's not a long-term injury, so it was good to see him back on the ice (Tuesday). He makes it look pretty easy. He's such a big guy, but he moves really well for a guy that size, and his reading of the game is second-to-none. Put that together with the amount of net that he covers on his own and then his reaction time and his anticipation. He makes some great saves and even when we're not on top of our game, he keeps us in the games long enough to get going. That's what you're hoping your goalies can do. He's been excellent.

On forward Andrew Shaw's recovery from a concussion...
He's in concussion protocol and he's progressing through it. The hard part with those injuries is that there is not really a timeline. He could be back playing in a week or two, it could be a month or two. It's not really fair to speculate because nobody really knows. We just follow the doctor's progression to play, and whenever that is, then we'll welcome him back.

Video: Stan Bowman Part 3

On veteran defenseman Brent Seabrook...
He's a warrior. I know he doesn't say much about himself ever. He's a man of few words, especially out to the media. But in that locker room he never complained once with the stuff he was dealing with. When he finally took a step back and looked at what he's been playing through for a long time, some of these injuries have been there for several years, but he was the type of guy who never wanted to talk about it, just put your head down and keep playing. I think he deserves a lot of credit or admiration of the way he's handled it. He's a real character player. He's been a big part of this team.

He's really been a warrior for our team. It's finally time to take care of his body. It's good that we can get him fixed up. It's going to take some time to go through all the rehab, but I know he'll work at it and come back stronger.

On defensive prospect Ian Mitchell...
I've met with Ian a couple times this year. The last time was right before he left for the Spengler Cup, and I've had some great feedback from players who were there, Kris Versteeg as well, was really impressed with how he played in that tournament. I know Ian follows our team closely. I don't want to speak for him, but my conversations with him have been very positive. He knows our team well. I think it's exciting to see some of his fellow players from this summer's camp, Boqvist and Dach here, not only on the team but playing a big role.

(Mitchell) dominated the games I saw at Denver this year. He's such a good skater, very involved in the play. He does a little bit of everything for that team as their captain. I think it bodes well how he's going to transition to the NHL. I think his game lines up exactly how we want to play. He's a fun player to watch. I wish he was here now, but I understand being captain of your team, you want to go back and try to win the championship of the NCAAs. We wish them well. Whenever that time's right, we're going to be looking to bring him here.

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