The following is excerpted from the 2015 Stanley Cup Playoffs First Round issue of Blackhawks Magazine, featuring a season review by Bob Verdi. Pick up the newest issue of the magazine at the next Blackhawks home game, or by calling the Blackhawks Store at 312-759-0079.
It seems that Stan Bowman is forever taking his cellphone for a walk. As the peripatetic Blackhawks Vice President/General Manager, he is the 24-7-365 emperor of procuring talent, developing it and, whenever possible, keeping it. Bowman has been extremely agile lately, whether acquiring players through the free agent route or via trades.
But after signing a decorated center in Richards during the summer, Bowman evinced the benefits of exploring unbeaten paths and thinking outside the box. His hard work brought two important pieces to the mix: Scott Darling and Trevor van Riemsdyk.
Darling is the Marco Polo of goalies, having toiled in various leagues for obscure teams, many of which are unknown to even hockey savants: Florida Everblades, North Iowa Outlaws, Louisiana IceGators. But it was the 26-year-old nomad’s performance with the Milwaukee Admirals last season that caught Bowman’s attention.
“Every time I saw him with the Admirals, Nashville’s American League farm team, he kept beating our Rockford team,” recalled Bowman. “He had six shutouts.”
The Blackhawks pursued Darling, a Newport News, Va., native who grew up in Lemont following them. He is 6-foot-5 and a half, plays as big as he looks and is extremely athletic while maintaining a “less is more” style. He bypasses histrionics and possesses balance, stability and selective amnesia—a must for goalies because they all surrender the occasional softie. Best yet, Darling had a dream.
“Beyond my comprehension,” he said upon signing a two-year extension with the Blackhawks during the winter, between his first NHL victory and first NHL shutout. “This contract makes me really feel like part of the Blackhawks. Amazing.”