According to ESPN and TFP, the Chicago Blackhawks have fired General Manager Dale Tallon. A statement will be made later today to announce the fact, together with the promotion of Assistant GM Stan Bowman as the new GM.
Update! It is now being reported that Tallon has been reassigned to be a senior advisory of hockey operations instead.
Dale Tallon was appointed General Manager on the 21st of June 2005 and oversaw the drafting of young talents such as Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews, whilst also making expensive plunges on the free agent market; acquiring players such as Nicholai Khabibulin, Brian Campbell and Cristobal Huet.
He was also the one responsible for steering the Blackhawks away from the doldrums. When he arrived in town, Chicago only managed 65 points over the course of his first season in charge, whilst in his last campaign, the club totaled 104. Moreover, the team progressed as far as to the Western Conference finals; where the Hawks were finally stopped by rivals Detroit.
Tallon was then surrounded in controversy this summer, when making the high profile signing of Martin Havlat from Detroit and tying the star winger to a massive 12-year contract. Whilst this would normally be a reason for celebrations, Dale received criticism for placing the clubs future in jeopardy. The reason being that star players such as Patrick Kane, Jonathan Toews and Duncan Keith are all to become restricted free agents next summer – and question is if the Hawks will have the Cap space to resign them all. That is, unless someone would be willing to take on the massive contracts of Cristobal Huet or Brian Campbell, which many analysts seriously question.
A second reason for controversy was the failure to notify pending restricted free agents of qualifying offers before the deadline. Dale sent the offers out in mail, which however is not the proper way to handle affairs. The players association filed grievances against the club, but everything was finally resolved as the Blackhawks re-signed all the players in question; including Kris Versteeg and Cam Barker.
According to TFP sources, this embarrassment was the "clinching blow". ESPN meanwhile doesn’t agree: "It may have had little to do with Tallon’s firing" they state and think an ulterior motive was to rid the franchise of a GM that was appointed prior to the current President John McDonough; and Dale simply wasn’t part of the plans for the revamped organization. If this latter explanation holds up, it is possible that Dale Tallons number has been up for some while and the saga of failing to notifying agents simply was the excuse to fire/reassign him from the GM position.
Last summer’s appointment of legendary coach Scotty Bowman, certainly was a sign of new things to come and speculation was rife back then that Dale would soon be shown the door, so that Scotty’s son, and long-time assistant GM – Stan Bowman, could take over the reins. It seems that today that scenario has finally come to fruition.
Stan Bowman has for the last 10 years been at the club as an Assistant GM and has primarily handled contract negotiations, collective bargaining agreement issues and free agency. Considering these are the areas of contention, currently within the franchise and in the media, questions must be raised as to the wisdom of this selection.
Certainly, Stan will have his hands full this coming season – one that could shape the long-time future and stability of the club. Success or failure – bust or boom – we shall soon see….