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Stan Bowman Sits Down With Me For A Q&A

Stan Bowman

Just kidding. Stan hasn’t spoken with me yet. Hasn’t even sent a care package to the office to congratulate us for going full-time with Barstool Chicago. Bowman did, however, sit down with Scott Powers of The Athletic. Stan’s media tour has slowed since the team started winning in December. He’s talked to Scott Powers a few times now, he’s done the NHL podcast, he did Spittin Chiclets and if you’re wondering…yes, I’ve asked to do interviews. The Blackhawks have said that they’re “open to it” but the conversation hasn’t gone much further than that. Honestly, I get it. It’s fine. I’ve been hard on Stan and John. On Chiclets Stan said with a glib tone that “there’s probably a market for the (fire stan) shirts”.

He’s right. We’ve sold out of a few sizes already. Big market. I want to be wrong about Stan and everything I’ve said. I would love to have to apologize. I don’t think I am wrong, but I would love to see the team win right in my face and then I’ll sell other t-shirts. Anyways, until Stan agrees to a friendly sit down with your Ukrainian Village neighborhood Blackhawks blogger, I’ll just have to have to comment on the other interviews he does to boil down to the truth(as I see it).

Here’s the link to the entire interview:

Stan’s opening remarks about the impact of firing Joel Quenneville were refreshingly honest

“I think the hardest part was really for a lot of our veteran guys. Some of the younger players, they’ve played for college coaches, been to camp, like they’ve played for multiple coaches in the last three years, even some guys from Europe. Nobody had played for one coach for 10 years. I hadn’t really thought it through like that in terms of the impact. Now you are realizing it is hard to form habits. I think  the younger guys it was easier for them to be like, all right, you want us to do that, OK, we’ll do that, all right. It wasn’t that hard. Now we’ve made progress.”

Stan, again, I appreciate your honesty here. My first response to this comment would be:

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Aside from firing Joel Quenneville and making him the scape goat for a bad roster, my biggest problem with the coaching change was the timing. If you wanted to fire Joel, you should’ve done it after the season. Everyone could’ve come to grips with it. Both the fans and the veteran players. The Blackhawks would’ve had a full summer, training camp, and preseason etc to learn new systems and create new habits. It would’ve been a smoother transition. The decision to fire Joel Quenneville in early November will likely end up being the difference between missing or making the playoffs. Had to do it either last summer or next summer if things went poorly(which I don’t think they would have if Joel had this current roster to work with). That decision would be a fireable offense in it of itself, EXCEPT…

I think that decision STINKS like John McDonough. It has his frosting licking sticky fingers all over it. I am sure Stan wanted to fire Joel in the summer, but McDonough looked at all the season ticket holders bailing and lower tv ratings and vetoed the firing of Joel for PR reasons at the time. Big mistake.

Furthermore…I would be pretty pissed if I were Rocky. They’re paying a lot of money to coaches who aren’t coaching right now and they gave Colliton a BIG bump. John’s job is to keep the team in the black. I wonder if carrying like an extra 8 million dollars in coaching over-head is hurting the bottom line. Something to think about. Not to mention no playoff gate. Not a great look, John.

Scott Powers then asked him to assess where the team is right now

Bowman:”Setting the standings aside…

Totally…just set the standings aside. Nbd, Stan. I’m looking to buy a condo in Lincoln Park. I’d just like to set my bank account, credit, assets, and salary aside while looking for places. Is that cool?

Bowman:…we dug ourselves a big hole that way, but the way we’re playing now is much more like a regular team. For a while there, we were sort of underwater where we’ve had some glaring issues and then we’d finally fix those and something else would (go wrong). Now we win and lose games, but we’re like a normal team, right?

Very normal. I actually agree. The Blackhawks SUCKED in November. Past tense, though. Now they’re pretty solid. Just had to sacrifice an entire month of the season to get back to square one, being average. Tough look for a GM.

Powers: Did you have to swallow some pride to trade Brandon Manning and re-assign Jan Rutta after signing them and expecting them to play larger roles this season?

Translation: “Was it hard knowing that you fucked up?

Bowman: I don’t spend any time trying to analyze the question that you asked which is we are where we are. We got to make the most of … this is how we’re playing. Manning didn’t fit that at all. It’s not that he’s not a good player. It’s not that he can’t be successful. He could fit in well with Edmonton. They have a different coach then they did before, right? That’s the thing, you’re always trying to get players that can adapt to the way your team wants to play. I’m not saying we’re dramatically different than we were before, but sometimes those little nuances to the game which one player goes from being a valuable part of that and having success under one coach to now like …

Love that answer too. Fuck up big time? Just pretend that it didn’t happen. Don’t waste time trying to learn from mistakes or explain mistakes. We are on to 2019-20 or whatever.

In all honesty, it’s this type of response that bothers me. He keeps trying to blame the Manning signing/failure on Joel. He says that he had Joel in mind when he signed him as if he’s a Joel type of player. Think back through the good years of the Blackhawks…did they ever lean on a guy like Manning? It’s always been guys who can skate and/or move the puck. Keith, Seabs, Hjalmarsson, Rozsival, Oduya, Leddy, etc. Those are Joel guys. Manning doesn’t resemble any of them. Saying that Manning is a Joel guy and Dahlstrom isn’t is dishonest. It’s also dishonest to say that Dahlstrom didn’t play well for Joel. He was fine last year as a rookie on a bad team. He’s been good under Colliton, but he was probably always a better option than Manning and Rutta. If Stan signed Manning with Joel in mind it was just to sabotage him by saddling him with players who can’t help the Hawks win.

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Powers: How do you weigh the rest of this season? This team is playing more like a playoff team now, but the postseason still seems unrealistic. You’d have to win something like 28 games down the stretch.

Bowman: I think there’s no question we’re on the rise. We’re a team that’s going to be better a year from now than we are now and two years from now. We should be trending upwards. A lot of our best players are our young players with the exception of a couple guys. We’re not a veteran-laden team like some teams are.

This…this is where I’d want to be sitting there in the room with a follow up question. Look, are some aspects of the team going to be better in a year or two? You’d hope so. You’d hope that Jokiharju, Mitchell, Boqvist, and Beadin all pan out and reshape the team. {extreme Stephen A voice} HOWEVAH…NONE of those guys are going to be able to carry a team the way Toews, Kand, Keith, and Crawford have in previous years. Those guys are still your most important players and it’s safe to assume that they absolutely won’t be as good as they’ve been this year. Kane and Toews are having the best years of their career, Keith is still a top 4 guy(but is showing some decline) and while Crawford is out right now he’s still highly regarded. Who knows what the team will look like in 2 years. That is unpredictable. What is predictable is father time and as the cliche goes…that fucking guy is undefeated. It’s likely that Toews and Kane won’t be THIS good and it is very possible that Crawford and Keith aren’t even in the league in 2 years. It’s a GIANT leap to say that the team will be better in two years. Stan himself has said that the forward pipeline is weak. He’s right. They don’t have an all-star type talent in the forward group besides Toews and Kane. Strome, Debrincat, and Sikura all show promise. None of them are true cornerstone players you can build a team around. It’s not a slam dunk that Hughes or Kakko are that type of guy either. Look at a guy like Barzal…he’s AMAZING. If Hughes is that good that’d be a huge piece to the puzzle. Is Barzal good enough to be the best player on a Cup winner…I don’t think so.

And THAT is why Stan essentially punting on this year and wasting the 4 total seasons is a fireable offense. You can’t waste the prime years of generational talents. Failing to win a playoff series with Toews and Kane on your roster in 4 straight years in execusible.

Powers: Do you think you can turn this around quickly with potentially another high draft pick and the cap space you’ll have? 

Bowman: …To answer your question, I do think we can turn it around quickly. Our goal is not to be in this position a year from now. We’re not trying to not win games. I think even if we brought the exact same roster back next year, which we’re not going to do, but if we did, we would be better because we would not have to go through the adjustment period. We’re playing now like a team that if we played this way from the beginning we’d be in the mix, right? Still not the team we want. We want to be a team at the top. We certainly need to add a couple players to the group we have here. Whether that’s through trade or draft or free agent, there’s no reason to think we can’t look at our team next October and be, like, really excited about where we’re headed next year as well as the year or two after that.

Again, this is admission of guilt that they fumbled the coaching decision. Every issue with this team is a Stan Bowman and/or John McDonough shooting their own legs off. The Blackhawks absolutely would be in the mix if Stan had a better summer and if he hadn’t fired Joel. The roster now is way better than the one from October. It could’ve been that way all along. Whether they made these decisions consciously or not, they were still bad decisions and it sunk the season to the point that they need an incredible second half in order to sniff the playoffs.

The entire interview is MUCH longer, obviously and definitely worth the read if you subscribe to The Athletic. Powers asks some tough questions, many questions that I would ask. I just wish that Stan’s answers could get cross examined. That’s what I want to do. Challenge his answers to the original question. I’m extremely jealous of everyone that has had that opportunity. Stan, you know where to find me. Maybe Stan has an answer for some of these follow ups and he is just bullshit Belichick-ing his way through the interview. Why answer a question that hasn’t been asked?

The Blackhawks have Nashville tonight. If they are able to win that game I’ll be ALL over the JoinOrDie movement. There’s a glimmer of hope still alive. I don’t want to be a seller at the deadline. Let’s go.