Just like the Oscars are an annual reminder of the fact that the fight against aging is still a losing battle, again the the trade deadline came and went with the reminder that there are no magic fixes or miralce cures.
While to an extent we all wanted to see a daring move and a major shakeup, we were largely kidding ourselves. It wasn't going to happen because (1) it would be entirely against our GM's rather conservative MO, (2) what was there to be had, really, and (3) Stan elected to pass on the most dramatic shake-up option he had available to him, which was firing Q.
(1) While Stan's rather conservative approach to the front office, as opposed Paul Holmgren's burning down the building for the insurance check approach, repeatedly earns the ire of numerous fans and beat writers, is there really another suitable style for the Blackhawks' GM? The core is in place for a long time. The pipline is rich in talent. It's hard to argue that the future in Chicago is anything but bright. Given, then, that Bowman possesses the luxury of time, then the correct approach to the deadline was patience. Given futher that only very rarely (if ever) can a team whose post season outlook appears to be going nowhere morph overnight into a cup contender then, no, the farm wasn't worth selling. Not for Gaustad, not for Roy, not for Grabovski, nor Nash, nor Carter, nor Ryan, nor anyone else who was on, off, or near the trading block. So, in the end, the fact that - more or less - Bowman gave up essentially nothing to add some depth to a team that - at one point - was atop the league's standings seems pretty good to me.
(2) For a consideration of the opposite, lets look at the Nashville Predators. Time is not a luxury our dear friends in Tennessee possess. David Poile has clearly seen the big-market carion birds circling, waiting to pick over the carcass of his team at season's end. Poile knew the summer of 2012 was going to be ugly no matter what and decided that it was time to sell the farm and go all in. However, has he really improved the Pred's chances all that much? Its hard to say that Andrei Kostitsyn and Paul Gaustad are the pure scorers that the Pred's offensive attack needed to match Detroit and Vancouver punch for punch. If the Preds do have a chance to win it all it will be because of the same old guys, Weber, Suter, Rinne. And Poile gave up pieces and picks that would help put this franchise back together after the great Shea Weber and Ryan Suter Auction goes down on July 1.
The question remains, though, whether or not firing Quenneville was the big move that Bowman could have made (again, seemingly against his MO). Perhaps more importantly was firing Q the big stretch-run move that Bowman should have made? The fact that the Hawks can't cobble together a more imaginative powerplay unit from the wealth of offensive talent the organization possesses is a major red flag for the situation behind the bench. As is the PK unit, which at one time was among the best in the league but hasn't been able to conjur any answers in nearly two years. Hell, much of the frustration we have felt collectively over the past two seasons can be boiled down to horrendus special teams play, the situation in the cage being what it is. And that deficiency, the fact that the Hawks struggle most in man-advantage situations reflects, at least to my mind, on the coaching staff more than anything else.
It's a problem where only time will tell if Bowman made the correct choice in retaining Q (and considering the way that the players lined up in support of Q it may be that Bowman didn't really have a choice). With the trade deadline gone and the playoffs and then the offseason looming, the next great decision for Bowman will be whether or not Quenneville is the right coach for the personnel on the roster, and he may want to pay attention to the opinions of guys like Stalberg, Frolik, Lepisto, and other who have been greatly mishandled.
For now, Quenneville is our man. And who knows the ship may get righted yet. At one point this roster was winning those close games and leading the league. If the ship never does get righted, however, and the Hawks limp into the first round and then meekly retire to the golf course again, with a roster that, on paper at least, is clearly superior to the one that took Vancouver to Game 7 last year, then perhaps this summer will call for some uncharacteristic actions from Bowman. At this point, if the hang man comes in the form of a pink slip, he should come knocking on Q's door first. Yet, Bowman ought not rest laurels for long either.