Meet The New Boss....
I'm going to jump the gun a little bit, before this is all official, and express the bile that is rising in my throat right now over the firing of Dale Tallon. It's a complete joke, and proves that the Hawks still have some way to go before they can pronounce themselves the perfect organization, which they're in such a rush to tell everyone.
Though I have had to stake out a position as one of Tallon's biggest supporters, that does not mean I think he's a perfect GM by any means. He's made his share of mistakes, that team coming out of the lockout was birthsauce on ice, and he was the first one to admit it. However, he took that team and built one that AT WORSE will be the second or third favorite to be hoisting the Cup in June 2010 in a little over four years. After the season ended, I wrote on my offseason checklist that the Hawks either needed to extend Tallon's contract or fire him immediately. Well, they chose the option that required no balls whatsoever. What kind of overturned shortbus lets a guy run the offseason wagon, and then fires him as soon as its over? You're upset about the RFA-qualifying offer thing? What exactly did that cost the Hawks? Some marginally bad PR? To slightly overpay Kris Versteeg, who's still movable, by the way? If you really didn't believe in this guy, why wasn't Bowman handed the keys before the draft? First one to come up with an answer that makes any sense wins a coke.
When the Hawks first hired Scotty Bowman, I was behind it, because I thought this was Rocky and McD admitting they didn't know enough about hockey to make informed decisions, so we'll find someone who does. But the more and more this has gone on, it's smelled worse and worse. I defended it when Rozner went off, as he does, as Scotty wanting to be with his son, who had just survived cancer, seemed to be on the up and up. But after numerous reports of his daily tea with Mike Babcock and his shawdowy workings, I've completely soured on this. If your main advisor has his own son poised to assume the throne, just how objective is he going to be? I also said that though Scotty Bowman has no peer as a coach, his record as a GM was spotty at best, and we're trusting his talent evaluation? Gonna need more Pepto.
Let me say I know nothing of Stan Bowman. I don't know what his exact role is, how much influence he has and whatever else. From everything I read, he's the cap-ologist, so if you're miffed at the Hawks cap situation, wouldn't Stan be just as responsible for it as Tallon? What the Hawks have done here is put what they think is "their guy" in an absolute no-lose situation. If the Hawks go on to win, it'll be Stan shown on TV hugging everyone in the skybox, even though Tallon did all the work. If it all goes pear-shaped, Stan can throw up his hands and say, "This is what I was left with, what do you want me to do?", or as it's known around here, pulling a Piniella. It's gutless and cutthroat.
Again, Tallon was by no means perfect. Our cap situation is tricky, but hardly unsalvageable. This isnt' Hendry handing out 24-year contracts with no trade clauses that will weigh down the Cubs until I have arthritis. Perhaps Mark Streit would have been a better signing than Campbell, but we've had that debate for far too long for me to rehash it here without throwing up a lung. You can pan the Huet signing all you want, but what had Khabibulin done over his first three seasons here to prove that he could backstop a team that looked like it had every chance of making a huge leap (which it then did)? This was tallon correcting a previous mistake, and perhaps he erred in thinking how easy he could move Khabby along, but again, what did that really cost the Hawks?
This is still the guy who brought Patrick Sharp here for Matt Ellison. Who brought Martin Havlat here for Mark Bell. Who brought Kris Versteeg here for Brandon Bochenski. Who drafted Toews, Kane, Barker, Bolland, Hjalmarsson, Seabrook, Keith, and everyone else who's going to take the ice in October. Is he Ken Holland? No, he is not. But he certainly has earned the right to see this through, and the Hawks took that away.
And how does Coach Q feel right now? The Hawks still do not have a structure where the guy hired a guy who hired a guy. Coaches love working for GM's who didn't hire them, and those situations work out so well (Homer Simpson being sarcastic here). In the past two seasons, the Hawks have presented a structure to their fans and players, and then immediately changed it. How many times can you go to that well?
It's at times like this that I always feel so powerless. What can I and the rest of us who feel this way do? I'm not turning in my badge and tickets, and even if I did there's a line around the fucking block to take it, so they wouldn't even notice. All I can do is trust a hierarchy, that for all the world looks to be compromised, to know what they are doing.