Blackhawks' Tallon out as GM, takes adviser role
Dale Tallon helped restore the Chicago Blackhawks from a struggling hockey franchise to a young and talented team that went all the way to the Western Conference finals in May.
On Tuesday, less than two months after that run in the Stanley Cup playoffs, Tallon lost his job as general manager.
His ouster came a week after a missed deadline for sending qualifying offers to restricted free agents prompted the NHL Players Association to file a grievance against the team. Tallon was placed by Stan Bowman, the son of NHL coaching legend Scotty Bowman.
"I believe we could have done a better job," team president John McDonough said Tuesday at a news conference that Tallon did not attend.
McDonough said he took ultimate responsibility for the foul-up. But asked if Tallon would have been removed at this time if not for the incident, he replied: "Probably not."
Tallon accepted a two-year contract extension to stay on as an adviser.
"Ultimately when a mistake like that is made that is on me," McDonough said. "But it is also on me to make sure that mistake does not happen again or that we have the proper channels in place to make sure it doesn't happen again."
Tallon earlier denied that the problem and grievance had caused the Blackhawks to overpay the players, including Kris Versteeg, the team's top rookie last season.
"It costs us some money on the front end, but we'd be paying this money eventually," team owner Rocky Wirtz said Tuesday.
Asked what Bowman, who's in his ninth year with the Blackhawks, brings to the job that Tallon didn't, Wirtz said:
"He's 36, Dale is 58. We always want younger people. What he brings is a system in place to get better," Wirtz said.
Tallon has been a member of the organization for more 30 years, including five as a player, and 10 in the front office. He was made general manager in June 2005 and under his guidance, the team drafted young stars Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews, traded for scorers Martin Havlat and Patrick Sharp, and signed free agents Nikolai Khabibulin, Brian Campbell and Cristobal Huet.
Last season, the Blackhawks started drawing fans back to the United Center and reached the playoffs for the first time in seven years, losing to the Detroit Red Wings in the conference finals.
As for reports there was friction between Tallon and himself, McDonough said they had different ways of doing business. He characterized his methods as aggressive and assertive.
"I have great respect for Dale and what he has done for this organization," McDonough said. "I would say there has been some style differences. ... Dale is as every bit as effective, just a different approach."
Earlier this month, the Blackhawks signed free agent Marian Hossa from Detroit to a 12-year, $62.8 million deal. Havlat, the team's leading scorer last season, was let go and he was signed by Minnesota.
McDonough also said the team needed to improve its communication and decision-making, though he said he played no role in the Hossa and Havlat developments.
"I have been with this organization in several different capacities since coming over as a player in 1973 and although my position has changed, my goals have not," Tallon said in a statement released by the team. "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 nine years with the Blackhawks have included two seasons as the director of hockey operations and four seasons as a special assistant to the GM. He has been the team's assistant general manager the last two seasons. Bowman will have to maneuver the team through the salary cap when some of the team's young stars become eligible for big paydays.
Bowman called Tallon a mentor and he has another influential one in his dad, who's been a part of 11 Stanley Cup winners -- nine as a coach. Scotty Bowman joined the team last year as a senior adviser.
"He's just a great resource for me to bounce ideas off of," Stan Bowman said. "He's been through every situation you could imagine. "