RALEIGH, N.C. – The Blackhawks have long preached continuity with their group, finding ways of keeping the right players and their head coach as they look to continue their run of success.
To that end, they’ll be keeping their general manager for a few more years, too.
The Blackhawks signed Stan Bowman to a three-year contract extension, which will run through the 2020-21 season. Bowman has been at the helm for the Blackhawks’ last three Stanley Cup runs, balancing a salary cap while still finding the players the team has needed to continue its success.
“It’s a great honor,” Bowman said prior to the Blackhawks game against the Carolina Hurricanes. “I love what I do and there’s nowhere I’d rather be than in Chicago.”
It’s been a busy month for the Blackhawks in signing their leadership group. On Jan. 12 coach Joel Quenneville was signed to an extension that will take him through the 2019-20 season. The two have combined to lead the Blackhawks to a lot of great achievements lately.
“We’re both respectful of each other’s position. He has to do what he has to do and he has respect knowing what we have to do,” Quenneville said. “We’re in the now business of trying to win today whereas he has a longer perspective of the goals of the organization. Winning has helped a lot of it, but mutual respect for each other is what you have to [have] to be successful.”
When Bowman was named GM he inherited several core players, including Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane and Duncan Keith. While Bowman’s locked up some of those core players for the long haul — most recently Toews, Kane and Brent Seabrook — those big contracts, combined with the salary cap, have meant annual personnel changes. Assembling and re-assembling this team has meant tough decisions for Bowman, but he’s nevertheless constantly found ways to build a reliable group around the core players.
Besides the salary considerations, Bowman said figuring out whom to hold onto and who to keep usually comes down to a few factors.
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“You have to identify how can you keep it together for the most part and analyze which players are contributing the most. Then you have to have internal candidates that you think are ready to take that next step and, depending on where they are and what positions they play, that may dictate which players are ones you may be able to move,” Bowman said. “It’s never a matter of wanting to weed out players who don’t fit. It’s more trying to determine how can you keep this going forward. And there has to be some changes every year, so that’s the hard part.”
Sure, not every decision Bowman has made has worked out perfectly – which general manager has? But many have worked; and the fact that the Blackhawks have won several Cups in the salary-cap world is a testament to what Bowman has done.
“I think it’s impressive what he’s done, not just with the salary cap but with as many changes as we’ve had over the course of five, six, seven years. He’s done a great job of putting teams together that are able to win consistently,” said Kane, who lived with Bowman when he first came into the league. “I have nothing but good things to say about Stan."