That time again young sir. While we wait to find the energy to dig out our cars, I have something I'd like to discuss. Last week, our friends Bob and John from the Fifth Feather joined Chris Block on his Third Man In radio show. While it would seem a total waste to have that much handsomeness on the radio, it did make for some excellent Hawks discussion. There was one point that John brought up that I found intriguing and wrote about on NBC but I think could merit further discussion. It was John's contention that Stan Bowman is in over his head as GM.
The evidence is there. There's the filling of the 50-man roster to the brim, as well as hitting the veteran limit in Rockford so that Nick Boynton is still part of our lives. There's the promotion of Nick Leddy who clearly isn't ready, as well as the yanking of Brandon Pirri out of college when he clearly is not a pro player. There's the constant Rockford shuffle, which only seems to be a tool to prove how throbbing his brain is.
We don't have much to judge Stan on, really. He had the great summer purge, and just getting Jeremy Morin out of it was probably more than we could have hoped (though I still think if Stalberg were properly coached the Hawks could be getting more out of him). He's only made one in-season move, that was the acquisition of Leddy and Kim Johnsson and it's hardly Stan's fault that Johnsson's brain wasn't up to the task. He re-signed Daydream Nation and Keith, but I still contend that was done in far too much haste at a slightly too high number, but we don't know what pressure he was under from those who market this team with Toews and Kane as the face. Look at how much more deliberate things are going with Seabrook, not quite the face that the other two are. This team has needed a move for a while for a jump, and Stan has tied his hands to make one. Jamie Langenbrunner cost a third round pick, wouldn't he look good?
So I turn it to you, Mr. McClure, is Stan over his head?
While I don't think he's necessarily in over his head, he's certainly wading waist deep through it, to make yet another timely reference to the absurd amount of snow we've received in the last 24 hours. Yes, that he got the return he did during the summer while everyone under the sun knew he had to unload salary is commendable, but there have been missteps. That John Scott was given a contract on a team whose style is about as antithetical to what Scott brings is a severe knock against Bowman, though it wouldn't surprise me if Quenneville's input was heavily taken into consideration for that one. Between that move, retaining Nick Boynton and Jassen Cullimore, and prematurely keeping Leddy on the roster, Bowman realistically could have still had Brent Sopel on the third pairing with Jordan Hendry. Sure it's revisionist history, but it could have provided some stability to a slot on the team that's been in a constant state of flux since opening night.
Stan has obviously gone for quantity over quality, maxing out the allowable contracts on a roster chock full of at-or-near league minimum, but let's not forget that this situation is also exacerbated by the over $4 million in bonuses currently counting against the cap, in the last year of Kane and Toews' entry level contracts. We've gone over numerous times what that additional space could have provided, but the fact of the matter is that it exacerbated what was already going to be a very dicey situation for Stan.
As you stated above, a move or two could have been made to jump start the team, and having cited Langenbrunner, there are bargains to be had out there, but Bowman's been hamstrung. It will be interested to see what, if anything he's able to pull off as the deadline approaches. I think that this deadline will start to give more of an indication of whether or not Stan can pull himself and the team out of it, or whether he's going to get submerged. The Hawks clearly have needs and are dry humping the cap, so if he can get a contributor under those circumstances it would seem to be a step in the right direction for the future, especially with that $4 mildo coming off the books. These next few weeks should be paid close attention to as a result.