With the hockey world’s focus now centered on Chicago for this weekend’s draft, Chicago Blackhawks head coach Joel Quenneville and Stan Bowman held press conferences at the United Center on Thursday afternoon, their first public comments after what’s already been an interesting start to he offseason.
The recent news involving Marian Hossa’s inability to play for the upcoming season was a popular topic.
Both Quenneville and Bowman discussed just how good of a player the Hawks are losing:
Bowman on Hossa: "Off the ice he helped establish a tradition and a culture here that’s going to live on for decades and decades."— Mark Lazerus (@MarkLazerus) June 22, 2017
Joel Quenneville on Marian Hossa: "You lose a class person and player. ... You lose 17 minutes of playing the right way." #Blackhawks— Mark Lazerus (@MarkLazerus) June 22, 2017
And that this was not a recent problem for Hossa: he’d been battling this issue for multiple years.
Quenneville said Hossa said he "wishes I could give you a number" on the many ways they tried to treat Hossa— Chris Hine (@ChristopherHine) June 22, 2017
Remember all of those days when Hossa would miss the morning skate and it was always chalked up as a maintenance day or sometimes described as “Taking a Hossa?” Now we know.
Joel Quenneville said the Hawks would give Hossa days off so he didn't have to put his equipment on certain days.— Chris Hine (@ChristopherHine) June 22, 2017
As for actually replacing Hossa, Bowman said that it wouldn’t be as simple as some might think. Even if he goes on long-term injured reserve, which would allow the Blackhawks to go over the salary cap upper limit, the situation is more complex than just adding $5.275 million (Hossa’s cap hit) to the Blackhawks’ books.
Yes, having Hossa on LTIR will clear cap space and open up some possibilities for the Blackhawks, but it’s not like this is some grand win that creates a huge advantage over other teams. When Bowman says the Blackhawks have less cap room than people think, he’s referring to the how LTIR complicates things, especially if the team wants to maintain flexibility to make in-season trades.
The recent shuffling of assistant coaches also came up, with Quenneville confirming that he wasn’t happy when Mike Kitchen, a longtime friend, was let go.
Quenneville on Kitchen's firing: That day, I was not happy. I was disappointed.— Scott Powers (@ByScottPowers) June 22, 2017
There was also discussion about the roles new assistant coaches Ulf Samuelsson and Don Granato will handle.
Ulf Samuelsson will run the PK/be on bench; Granato will do pre-scouting as well as helping coaches and the young guys.#Blackhawks— John Dietz (@johndietzdh) June 22, 2017
As far as the current roster goes, Bowman was asked about Marcus Kruger, who’s been the subject of trade speculation for much of this offseason. But Bowman was tight-lipped on that topic.
Bowman wouldn't comment on Kruger (staying or going). #Blackhawks— Tracey Myers (@TramyersCSN) June 22, 2017
This likely won’t be the last we hear from either Bowman or Quenneville during what is expected to be a busy weekend.