Insider: Getting under the cap, analytics and more
/ Chicago Blackhawks
Below is an excerpt from General Manager Stan Bowman's interview on the 2014-15 season debut of the Blackhawks Insider podcast. To listen to the full interview, click here, or subscribe to the podcast in iTunes.
On making a roster move to get under the salary cap:
Well, we do have a lot of options. I think there are some decisions we have to make. Depending on who you put in the lineup will determine that. I don’t want to get ahead of ourselves. The whole point of an exhibition season is to get some of these young players in some game action, see which ones are close to playing. Some guys who have played in Rockford for one or two years, they might be ready to make that jump and you don’t know until you see them do it in game action. There are a lot of aspects at play there... we’re focusing on that over the next weeks with some decisions to make. But I’m confident that we’re going to be able to do what we want to do before leading into the season.
On the Blackhawks moves this offseason and the addition of Brad Richards:
That’s a good question. I don’t know if we had one glaring weakness. If we look back at our performance as a group last year we got out of the gate strong, so we had a good start and we continued that all the way through the end of the season. I think coming off the Olympic break we had some tired bodies, and the couple weeks following the Olympics wasn’t our best stretch of the year. We got things back in order in time for the playoffs.
When you go the way we did right down to the wire within one shot of being in the final, you had to do a lot of things right. That’s not for me to handicap what we did or did not do well because, as a group, we know how to play big games. We had a pretty good combination of scoring goals and defending. You always want to be a good team defending in terms of controlling the game and not giving up too many chances. We look to do more of the same this year. I don’t think we’re going to change the style of our game at all. Just getting off to a good start is the one thing we’re focused on.
It’s nice to see [the Saad-Richards-Kane] have some success as a group, whether that’s at Notre Dame or even last night getting the goal [against Detroit]. You’ll just see that develop over time. Our other line with [Marian] Hossa, [Jonathan] Toews and Patrick Sharp—they’ve played together quite a bit so there’s a lot of chemistry there naturally. I think we’re going to see that develop with the Kane line. The play-making ability is what you notice. Obviously Kane’s an elite player with being able to find guys out of the corner of his eyes. Brad Richards has a lot of those similarities: he’s a great passer, he’s got a great shot as well. He adds a little bit of everything to the line.
On the use of advanced analytics and the evolution of fancy stats:
That’s certainly the buzz word and has become mainstream in hockey. I think that’s good--more information for fans to get excited about and dive into the game. We’ve been doing our version of that for a number of years now. We’re not trying to broadcast or make a big deal of it because I think like anything else, we think what we do is unique and distinct and gives us an advantage. We don’t want to go into details and explain it because once everyone starts doing it you lose your advantage. I think that what we’ve been doing sets us apart and it works for us.
I think what teams are doing now may be good for them, and I certainly welcome that. More information for fans is exciting. It brings more attention to the game and there’s a dialogue among fans. From what we do, we don’t necessarily look at what is in the media. We have a system that works well for us. It helps us prepare our team and I think Joel’s always been smart enough to know that you can’t completely rely on it and you can’t completely discount it. There’s always that combination of the old-fashioned gut instinct and what you see. He’s done a good job of understanding that there is value in the information. We don’t talk about it a lot but that’s because we want to maintain what we think is an advantage.