With the Blackhawks only three points out of a playoff spot in the Western Conference, team president and CEO John McDonough said he wants to see the team “make a run for the playoffs” during a one-on-one interview with Mark Lazerus of The Athletic.
“I want to see us make a run for the playoffs. I know that Stan is burning up the lines and there’s a lot of interest out there and he has to do what’s best in the long run for the Blackhawks,” McDonough said.
While Chicago is three points away from a playoff spot, there are also four teams above them in the standings and they’re also three points away from the bottom of the conference. That doesn’t matter to McDonough, who “guaranteed” the team will not be tanking for better odds in the NHL draft lottery for a higher pick in the upcoming draft in June in Vancouver.
McDonough also said general manager Stan Bowman’s job is “absolutely” safe.
In the interview, McDonough touted the moves Bowman has made since the team fired Joel Quenneville as head coach and promoted Jeremy Colliton in November. Bowman traded forward Nick Schmaltz to Arizona for winger Brendan Perlini and center Dylan Strome, in a deal involving three former first-round draft picks. Strome has slotted into the second-line center role and scored 10 goals and 24 points in 30 games, while Perlini has been in a bottom-six role and tallied three goals and four points in 24 outings.
Bowman then traded defensemen Brandon Manning in late December and Jan Rutta in January, which brought in forward Drake Caggiula and defenseman Slater Koekkoek, respectively. Caggiula, who chose to sign with Edmonton over Chicago as an undrafted college free agent in 2016, has two goals and five points in 11 games since the trade. Koekkoek, the No. 10 overall pick in the 2012 draft, has not recorded a point in four games.
McDonough’s stance on Bowman’s job security hasn’t changed since the team’s press conference back in November when he said firing the GM was not discussed.
Read the full interview, here (subscription required).