Sure, the writing appeared on the proverbial wall for Dale Tallon long before this week when he was replaced by former Blackhawks Assistant GM Stan Bowman as General Manager. After all, in spite of managing the NHL’s youngest team to a conference final, Tallon hadn’t received even a whiff of a contract extension as the team’s GM.
One of the popular questions around the NHL in regards to Tallon’s dismissal revolves around when the decision was made to replace him. Sure, the RFA snafu occurred just a couple weeks prior to the official decision – perhaps giving the Hawks hierarchy “cover” to make such a decision – but that couldn’t have been the impetus for firing, arguably, one of the league’s most successful GMs, could it?
Well, not if you re-listen to this May 18th interview with Rocky Wirtz on the Score, 670 AM. While Rocky’s answers were less than transparent at the time, each answer seemingly foreshadowed this week’s management shake-up. Among the more interesting answers were the following:
– When asked about Dale Tallon’s future – and this was just following game one of the Western Conference Finals, mind you – Rocky said, “Dale is gonna be just fine.” Just fine? The GM of one of the NHL’s final four teams is going to be just fine? You mean, like, reassigned within the organization for a raise, just fine? Yeah, probably.
– When asked how the Blackhawks would keep its young stars together, Rocky responded, “That’s where Stan Bowman has to come in.” Huh? The Assistant GM has to come in to sign the team’s players – to do, ya know, the GM’s job? Isn’t that a touch odd? Yeah, probably.
– When asked to discuss the role each person in management had in making personnel decisions, Rocky described Stan Bowman as “the brain trust behind Dale Tallon.”
– Rocky also went out of his way to mention that the elder Bowman only offers insights on organizational activities when asked. Odd, don’t you think, for a senior advisor of Bowman’s ilk to provide guidance only when asked? Wouldn’t you think, given Bowman’s experience, that there would be times he could foresee important happenings before they occurred, and in so doing, given he’d be the only one with this knowledge, wouldn’t it be beneficial to the Hawks if he advised members of management on these happenings, ya know, before he was asked by a member of management to do so?
So, what good would it be for an owner of a franchise, absent knowledge that he would soon promote said senior advisor’s son or the senior advisor himself, to tell the world that the senior advisor has an oddly limited role within the organization? Anyone? Anyone?
Weird, indeed. At the very least Rocky’s rewind Nostradamous impression casts John McDonough as an even bigger lying sack than he appeared at Tuesday’s press conference. McD’s comment that the Blackhawks would “probably not” have fired Tallon absent the RFA mishap seems downright asinine given his owner’s comments two months earlier.
And, that brings us to a more recent radio interview: this time with former Blackhawks Assistant GM Rick Dudley this past Tuesday by the FAN in Toronto. (Thanks to Chris over at Third Man In for pointing to this one.) Though Dudley essentially recuses himself through much of the interview, he does admit that John McDonough has recently become increasingly involved in the team’s hockey operations.
And, yes, that’s the same John McDonough who tells anyone who will listen that he’s not a “hockey guy.”
Seems to me that McD is really just a Bill Wirtz in logo-emblazoned lamb’s clothing…