The Chicago Blackhawks are projected to have roughly $6 million in cap space around the trade deadline this season. This is the most cap space the Blackhawk’s have had to play with in many years. The lack of consistent cap space stems from many of the large contracts that current general manager, Stan Bowman has given to the veteran players that helped the team win three Stanley Cups in five years.
Right now, Corey Crawford, Duncan Keith, Brent Seabrook, Jonathan Toews, and Patrick Kane all have no-movement clauses in their contracts. Seabrook is currently the thirteenth highest paid defenseman in the NHL ($6.875 million). He is 33 years old and his contract doesn’t end until after the 2024 season. No, you didn’t misread that, and freshly fired coach Joel Quenneville didn’t offer that contract to Seabrook, Bowman gave Seabrook that contract and he should’ve fired himself when he did.
“This is all based on feel and experience.” President John McDonough said during Tuesday’s press conference, when asked what made them so quick to fire Quenneville? “We are built on continuity. Joel was here as our coach for ten years. . .Loyalty plays a big role in this, but it has to be loyalty tethered to results.”
Contracts like the Seabrook’s have regularly put the Blackhawk’s in a salary cap prison and forced Bowman to trade top players like defenseman Niklas Hjalmarsson in an effort to get under the cap. Even if Seabrook didn’t have a no-movement clause, moves like the Hjalmarsson trade would still have happened since no NHL team would willingly take Seabrook’s salary considering his recent sub-par performances.
At the core of the Blackhawk’s three Stanley Cups are Kane, Toews, Keith, and Seabrook. Bowman didn’t draft any of those players. So, if you’re going to talk about results, the results of Stan Bowman are big contracts that cannot be moved, draft classes that have failed to make a major impact, other than Brandon Saad, and constantly having to retool the roster due to these bad contracts. If McDonough wasn’t satisfied with Coach Q’s results, he shouldn’t have been satisfied with Bowman’s either.
With Quenneville now gone, the Blackhawks have named Jeremy Colliton their new coach. The coaching change appears to be Bowman trying to protect his job and McDonough backing his hire of Bowman as most general managers would.
“He’s got to feel my support,” McDonough said regarding Bowman. “I have to give him the autonomy and the independence to hire the coach that he wants to.”
This is the first coach Bowman has hired and if Colliton isn’t successful in his new role, it will likely be Bowman’s last.