The NHL trade deadline on Feb. 24 is quickly approaching and the Blackhawks find themselves in an interesting spot. They're on the outside looking in but close enough to the playoff bubble where a postseason berth is within reach.
The question Chicago fans want to know the answer to: Will the Blackhawks be buyers, sellers or stand pat?
To get a better feel on which direction the Blackhawks will go, GM Stan Bowman chatted with NBC Sports Chicago over the weekend to discuss the organization's potential trade-deadline approach:
With the trade deadline two and a half weeks away, are you getting a better idea on how you want to go about things or do you still want to see how this plays out?
"I think we're going to take as much time as we have the luxury of that. We don't have to make any decisions in the next couple days. I've been saying for a while, we'll have a better picture as we get closer to the deadline and that's still the case. As of today, it's hard to really draw too many conclusions, so we're going to be patient with it and take a look at how everything's going with our team and other teams. So I don't have much of an answer other than it's still a wait and see approach."
At what point do you have to make a decision? Obviously, you don't want to go down to the final day, but you don't want to be too premature either, right?
"True. I don't know if there's a perfect answer for that, as far as a drop-dead date. Right now, there's still enough time. I guess patience is the word and keep evaluating and keep taking in that information and seeing what happens. I can't say it's going to definitely be a certain day where we're going to sit down and have some definitive meeting and say, 'This is it.' I don't know if it'll play out that way, it'll probably be a little more organic than that."
Mathematically is there a cutoff point that you have in mind as far as where you need to be in the playoff race or is it based on performance? What goes into that decision?
"No, it's not a mathematical thing. We've been through these situations enough to know where your team is at. You're always trying to balance the short term and long term and I think that's what we're going to look at as well. We've been in this situation many times before. Our team's been in different places in the standings but this is always something that comes up at this time of year is you're looking at the present and then you're looking at the future and you add it all up and you make the moves that you think make the most sense weighing both those factors."
How challenging is it to find that balance of wanting to reward the group but also doing what's best for the long term?
"Sure it's a challenge. It's no different than any other year though. There's always that give and take between the present and the future and that's why these things aren't simple decisions and you don't do them quickly. We've got a lot of smart people that we're going to lean on and talk with as a group and we'll come to a good decision when the time is right."
Can you envision a scenario where you do become a buyer — maybe not a big-game hunter, but where you add externally to improve your chances — or would a rental-type move of some sort jeopardize things?
"I guess it would depend on what that would look like as far as what pieces are going back and forth. So without knowing, it's hard to speculate on that. Of course, anything is possible, but I don't like to deal in theoreticals because there's a lot of crazy theoreticals you could throw out and they're never going to come to be. So we don't usually look at it that way, it's more in the concrete than the fans or the media don't get to look at that. When we're having conversations with teams you get a feel for what things would look like, and either they're going to make sense or they don't make any sense. So we're not going to do things that don't make sense for our organization.
"But I've been doing it long enough where you get some really interesting ideas as you get closer to the deadline. General managers tend to be more open-minded at that time of year of things you never thought that people would propose. I'm not expecting anything, I'm just going to let it play out the way it does and we'll take it as it comes."
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