The following ran in Wednesday’s edition of “The Committed Indian”:
Hey everybody! It’s me, Stan Bowman. You know me, I’m the General Manager of the Chicago Blackhawks, that cool new team your popular friends told you about a couple years ago. Most of you would probably confuse me with that squirrelly guy from your office who’s always hanging out in the bathroom.
Anyways, I’m here to teach you some of the cool new tricks I’ve learned about running a professional hockey team. Sure, everyone in the media seems to think my job consists of simply making trades and signing free agents, but I’ve recently found ways to make things more unreasonably difficult for myself! That way, when I do make trades, I look so much smarter.
Are you ready to learn all about it? Ok, here we go!
The NHL only allows me to keep 50 players under contract per year. So, the first thing I like to do is try and sign every prospect I own. This summer I signed Brandon Pirri and Marcus Kruger even though one wasn’t ready to play professional hockey and the other was going to play in Europe regardless.
Another little trick I like to use is signing every minimum wage contract player I find, even if my team has no use for them. Nick Boynton for $500,000? Where do I sign? John Scott for $512,000? Let’s give him another year on that contract. Jeff Taffe? Yes, please. Garnett Exelby? I have no use for him and neither does Rockford; sign him up. Nevermind that I could have used the combined $1 million of Boynton and Scott to keep Marty Reasoner. I’d much rather have Fernando Pisani. How good was he in the playoffs that one time?!!? All those guys add up and before I know it, I’m at 50 players!
With those 50 players under contract, it makes any trade way more difficult and waiver claims impossible. Sure, I could have re-acquired Ben Eager for a draft pick. He would have looked nice on our fourth line. Maybe Jamie Langenbrunner would have waived his no-trade to come play for us and all I would’ve had to give up was a 3rd round pick. He could have played on any of our four lines. I liked Mike Commodore and Craig Rivet and all they would have done is cost my boss, Rocky, some more money. But where’s the fun in that? I like to make trades where I have to give up a player.
Then, once the regular season begins, I like to spend my whole season wiggling around the cap so I can make that big mid-season acquisition. This whole salary cap thing can be very confusing. The good thing is all I have to do is tell the beat writers that it’s confusing and I don’t have to explain anymore. See, I learned this cute little trick where I conserve small amounts of cap space each year by shuttling our fringe NHL players back and forth between Rockford and Chicago. It only ends up saving us a few thousand dollars per day but everyone thinks I’m a genius for it! Trust me, it works.
So maybe we ended up losing games early in the year where we basically dressed 10 forwards. Does anyone even remember how we pissed away games against New Jersey and Edmonton because we had a fourth line of Jordan Hendry and John Scott? Most certainly not.
Besides, look at my shiny new toys! That Michael Frolik can really stickhandle and just wait until you see Chris Campoli. Dad says he’s really good.
I guess I could just give my team every available resource to win as many games as possible. It’s also true that by doing this I end up putting more pressure on myself to make a significant trade in the middle of the season. But this is my book and it’s not titled “How A Veteran General Manager Makes the Best Out of a Tough Situation.”
As the trade deadline approaches, I like to tell everyone what I’m looking for. This is a really important one. The closer the deadline date approaches, I will give as many interviews as the media asks of me. Whenever they ask what I’m looking for, I always tell them the truth.
For example, this year I made sure everybody from Alberta to Libya knew I was looking for a defenseman. In fact, I basically said if we didn’t get one, we would be screwed. All this will only make trying to make a trade so much harder! Plus, most of my general managing counterparts will try to rake me over the coals. That Steve Tambellini demanded I give him Nick Leddy for Ladislav Smid. Oh, Steve. He’s so silly. Doesn’t he know I’d sooner part with my Micro Machine collection than give up on Leddy?
So as the deadline approaches, I really work myself into a frenzy trying to swing any kind of trade. If I don’t, some people are really going to be mad at me! I learned this lesson the hard way last year. I didn’t say what I wanted and no one knew. So when I swung a deal for Kim Johnsson and Nick Leddy for the corpse of Cam Barker, all people said was that I made a really good trade. No talk of what a genius I am. No one talked about how hard I worked to swing that deal.
This year, look at how much credit I got for making the Campoli trade! Jesse Rogers told me I made a good deal for a player I needed. Sure, Bryan Murray made me give up a 2nd round pick for a guy who’s probably only worth a 4th rounder, but I ask again, where’s the fun in that?
There are a couple other subtle things I like to do.
Whenever I acquire a player, he either has to be a puck-moving defenseman or versatile. If he’s both, even better! My dream is to have a defensive corps of guys all 6’0” or shorter and who skate like the wind. I’d like to see Detroit and that bastard Ken Holland try to top that!
If the player I acquire is a forward, I just like to automatically assume he’s played center at some point in his career. Michael Frolik hadn’t played center since he was running around the streets of Prague. So what? He’s still played it before. That makes him versatile. Just saying versatile makes me sound so much smarter.
And don’t forget, if anyone ever questions why I do certain things, if I can’t it blame on the mysterious salary cap, I just blame it on Dale Tallon.