Stan Bowman reminisced to the late spring of 1992, when he’d wrapped up his freshman year at the University of Notre Dame. His mother asked him what he wanted to do in the future, and Bowman realized it.
“I remember saying, ‘Someday I’d like to work in hockey. And it’d be neat if I could work with dad,’” the Blackhawks general manager recalled on working with fhis ather Scotty. “I wanted to do something on my own (first) but I always had hockey in the back of my mind. And here we are, 21 years later, not only am I working with him, but we have two (Stanley) Cups together. It’s been a special journey.”
But Bowman’s journey is only so much about his famous hockey lineage and other that he followed to general manager, the post he’s had for four seasons and the one the Blackhawks extended him at, through 2017-18, on Wednesday. It’s also how Stan Bowman has made his own mark on hockey and on the Blackhawks, and how he looks to keep doing so.
Most of the Blackhawks’ core was set, or in the process of being set, when Bowman took over GM duties. But in finding the right pieces after the summer-of-2010 dismantling, locking up players like Bryan Bickell, Corey Crawford and Niklas Hjalmarsson long term and the damn good probability he’ll do the same with Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane next offseason, Bowman is making his own mark with his own decisions and moves.
But to Bowman, it’s not about him.
“It’s not just the general manager. We have a great coaching staff. I rely on key people, whether it’s (vice president) Al MacIsaac or (assistant GM) Norm Maciver, day to day we work together,” Bowman said. “In terms of lessons, you have to realize you can’t do it all yourself. You have to rely on other people. We’ve surrounded ourselves with competent people and gave them autonomy to do their jobs, and they’ve done them well.”
True, it’s a team effort for the Blackhawks, as much in the front office as it is on the ice. But when things go bad, the condemning fingers usually aren’t pointed to the entire front office. They’re pointed toward the coach. Or the GM. Both weathered some heat the previous two seasons, when the Blackhawks were out after the first round.
So it’s only fair to now give Bowman his due. As much as the roster upheaval was necessary in 2010, to rekindle the right chemistry and rebuild the depth around that core is Bowman’s doing, and it was done within the next three seasons.
For team president John McDonough, Bowman’s extension needed to be done.
“We had to make sure, with hockey and business operations, that we found the right people. And when you find these people… you recognize and reward achievement,” McDonough said. “It’s important for me on a day in, day out basis, on all levels of our organization, that we look out and see who the difference makers are. Obviously Stan Bowman has done a terrific job. As we put our planning together for the future, we believe Stan Bowman is the right guy to drive our hockey operation.”
[RELATED: Hawks want another quick start in 2013]
Bowman’s focus now goes to that future, starting tomorrow when training camp opens at the Univerity of Notre Dame. The pieces are in place for the Blackhawks to have many great seasons to come. Bowman has come full circle from that college freshman with a hockey dream. Now it’s about continuing to fuel it.
“We had a tremendous season culminating with the ultimate victory. But it’s time to close that book and start a new one,” he said. “This is the first chapter for the new book. We’re excited for what’s to come. We had a great offseason preparing for this. From that perspective, I’m excited to see how things unfold tomorrow morning.”