Stan Bowman met the media on Wednesday morning and answered questions on a number of topics. Here are a few highlights:
The Blackhawks are not sold on the two goalies they have under contract. He said Corey Crawford needs to be individually better, and that they haven’t ruled anything out.
Patrick Kane will likely be the second line center on opening night. One reporter tossed up the “would you break up your core to get better” question, and was effectively shot down; the summer cries to trade Kane will once again be based in emotion and not reality. Bowman sounds confident that Kane can, and will, be a very good center.
Which, of course, means the Hawks need another top-six wing.
They would love to have Johnny Oduya back.
They might not want Niklas Hjalmarsson back.
When Bowman spoke about his defensive group next year, he indicated he’d like to talk to Oduya’s agent about having him back. When he spoke about the team’s top four defensemen, he referred to Duncan Keith, Brent Seabrook, Nick Leddy and Oduya.
In almost 30 minutes of answering questions about core players, the defensive group, and who they’re looking at for next year, Hjalmarsson’s name didn’t come up once.
As I mentioned when he was injured, I’m not sure the Hawks need Hjalmarsson in the lineup, and I’m not sold that they’re a better team with him out there. From his comments, and the lack of Hjalmarsson being mentioned a single time, it appears Bowman may agree.
When asked about specific players in Rockford, Bowman pointed to three players that were in Chicago this season as having a good shot at a roster spot next year: Jimmy Hayes, Andrew Shaw and, to a lesser extent, Brandon Bollig.
He spoke very highly of the play the IceHogs received from Brandon Pirri and Jeremy Morin as Rockford’s top guys up front in the strong second half. Kyle Beach was mentioned, noting that an injury cost him most of his season. Shawn Lalonde was not mentioned.
Staff changes are coming. Bowman did not say who, but he certainly made clear that the team’s special teams failures are being pinned on the coaching staff as much as the players.