Stan Bowman likes what he has with this current Chicago Blackhawks lineup. He said on Saturday that he didn’t want to change things. And as the trade deadline reached its end on Wednesday, with one small exception, he didn’t.
The Blackhawks stood pat, as their general manager said they would, as the NHL’s trade deadline passed on Wednesday afternoon. The Blackhawks are currently third in the Western Conference standings, two points behind Central Division foe St. Louis, heading into their final 19 regular-season games. While the Blackhawks have had some inconsistency lately, Bowman is happy with this roster and is confident they can win another Stanley Cup.
“We like our group here,” Bowman said. “Most of the guys have been together for a long time, have a lot of chemistry. Everyone has a defined role from a coach’s perspective. Sometimes when you bring in someone else, it upsets the apple cart a bit and you spend time reassigning different roles and ice time for players. It’s tough to do that in a short amount of time. We’ve had this group together all season long, and we’re looking forward to a strong finish here.”
Bowman said there was no temptation to try and match other teams’ deadline moves, including the Blues. Marian Hossa’s injury didn’t concern him enough to make some calls around the league — “he’s out for a little bit but I talked to him and (coach Joel Quenneville) and he’s coming along fine.” Bowman also didn’t get into talks over big-name players that were on the market. One of those big names, Ryan Kesler, stayed with the Vancouver Canucks through the deadline. For Bowman, the price to pay for some of those players is ultimately too high.
“I always chuckle when I see the reports that we’re close to getting (some big names), but that’s the world we live in today,” Bowman said. “In order to do those things, you’d have to trade players away that are effective contributors to your team. It’s different this year with the salary cap being lower than it’s been in recent years. It causes you have to trade money to add money. We believe in our group here. We want to keep them together and give them a chance to continue the great season they’ve had so far.”
The Blackhawks’ moves have come over the last few months. They got Kris Versteeg back in November. They acquired Peter Regin right before the Olympic break and got defenseman David Rundbland from Phoenix on Tuesday. Blackhawks players are fine with the subtle changes made.
“Chemistry is a big part of it,” Brandon Saad said prior to the deadline. “We have a lot of depth, regardless of big-name players or not. Sometimes guys come in and disrupt the room. (Blackhawks management) does a good job of finding the right fit for players and it shows on the ice.”
Patrick Kane agreed.
“It’s good to have the same group of guys who have been around the past two or three years,” he said. “You look how Pittsburgh did it at the deadline (last year). They were on fire going into the deadline, made a bunch of moves and it ended up not working out for them. They know what they’re doing up there. They have a feel for the group we have and the chemistry. If moves happen, they happen. But as of now, I think we’re comfortable with what’s in this room.”
The Blackhawks like what they have and didn’t want to disrupt it. They like what’s coming up through the system and didn’t want to part with it. They’ll be in a fight for playoff positioning the rest of the regular season, but they wanted to go into that fight with a group that knows how to handle it.
“We’re comfortable with the way things are going and what’s happening,” Quenneville said. “Some years there’s a lot more involvement and more anxiety of what you’re trying to get done. Sometimes you’re disappointed and sometimes you’re extremely excited. Our expectations are, we’re happy with everything going into it.”