Don’t be the least bit surprised to see Scotty Bowman as either the GM or the coach of the Chicago Blackhawks before the end of next season.
Bowman joined the Blackhawks Thursday as senior advisor of hockey operations, but those in the industry maintain that nobody should be fooled - Bowman didn’t leave a great situation with the Detroit Red Wings to just sit back and be a consultant in Chicago.
In fact, there are those who maintain Bowman’s hiring is simply greasing the skids for him to take a much more prominent role in the organization, with either GM Dale Tallon or coach Denis Savard, or possibly both, being replaced before long.
It is well-known new Hawks president John McDonough is not a big fan of either Tallon or Savard and that McDonough was the driving force behind the signings of unrestricted free agents Cristobal Huet and Brian Campbell.
In fact, industry insiders maintain Tallon didn’t want to sign either player July 1, but McDonough insisted the Hawks sign them as both hockey and marketing moves.
The Atlanta Thrashers had the inside track on Campbell in the first hours of free agency. He was reportedly about to accept Atlanta’s offer when McDonough apparently ordered Tallon to improve the Chicago’s offer to Campbell, who ended up signing with the Blackhawks for $56.8 million over eight years.
It was much the same with Huet. The night before free agency opened, the Capitals thought they had a deal done with Huet for $15 million over three seasons. But again, apparently at McDonough’s insistence, the Hawks sweetened their offer, adding another year and $565,000 per season.
There are those who maintain Tallon is on very shaky ground with McDonough and having Bowman around will give the Blackhawks a convenient hire should McDonough decide he can’t work with Tallon.
After all, why would Bowman leave the Red Wings for the Blackhawks, aside from the chance to work with his son Stan, who is an assistant GM in Chicago and is currently fighting Hodgkin’s lymphoma?
Certainly Bowman doesn’t need the money. To be sure, he can’t possibly think he’d be going to a team that has a better chance of winning the Stanley Cup.
All that leaves is an opportunity for Bowman to get back into the game at the management level, either as a GM or coach. But if the Blackhawks have designs on him becoming GM of their team, they might want to check Bowman’s record the only other time he held that job, in Buffalo. He wasn’t a great GM and no coach lasted more than 18 months under his watch.
With McDonough at the helm, the Blackhawks are being driven as much by marketing forces these days as they are by hockey decisions, so hiring a recognizable and successful figure such as Bowman makes a lot of sense.
Expect to see more of Bowman when it comes to determining the Blackhawks’ fortunes this season.
Ken Campbell is a senior writer for The Hockey News and a regular contributor to THN.com. His blog appears Tuesdays and Fridays and his column, Campbell's Cuts, appears Mondays.
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