Blackhawks make front office changes + more
Before I get into the changes the Blackhawks made to their front office, let's touch on the key dates for the return-to-play that the NHL announced.
… And thank you Frank Seravalli of TSN for that update.
Listen, I want to be optimistic about this whole thing, but I'm still wary of the NHL playing a game anytime before this fall.
I want it to happen, I really do.
But then I see stuff like this:
Yes, that Edmonton. The one that is one of two host cities for the NHL to RTP.
I will continue to process with caution with the NHL – and other sports for that matter.
Despite what I think may happen on the ice, I'm elated to see some off-ice action taking place in Chicago.
Scott Powers of The Athletic had a great update this morning on the changes the Blackhawks made to the front office.
This was the first that I have heard of any of these moves but not surprisingly as Scott also notes that the Blackhawks typically do not announce promotions/demotions/changes to the front office.
You will have to subscribe to The Athletic or pop over to the Blackhawks website to see all of the new official titles and changes, but here are the 3 moves I want to focus in on:
Norm MacIver – It looks like Norm has been demoted from Assistant GM to Vice President, Player Personnel.
MacIver joined the Hawks executive team in 2006 and when Marc Bergevin left in 2012, he moved in the Assistant GM role behind Stan Bowman.
He's known to be a smart hockey mind and whispers of him being targeted for GM roles outside of Chicago have surfaced over the years.
We'll see if he sticks around in Chicago or moves on in the next couple of years out of frustration.
Kyle Davidson, Mark Eaton, and Ryan Stewart – It appears that these 3 gentlemen have been promoted.
This restructure in Chicago's front office sees them going from 1 Assistant GM to 3.
Let's start with Kyle Davidson who has served as the Manager of Hockey Administration for the last 7 years. That's a big jump to Assistant GM/Hockey Administration. This was either a role that the Hawks wanted to put more emphasis on and/or a person in Davidson that thought needed a bigger voice in the front office.
Mark Eaton goes from Director of Player Development to this new role of Assistant GM/Player Development according to the Blackhawks website.
Eaton is a guy who is praised for his work with the Blackhawks prospects. He oversees all prospects in amateur and minor leagues in North America and Europe. This is a nice stick tap of recognition for Eaton who, by all accounts is doing a great job.
Ryan Stewart now goes from VP of Pro Scouting to Assistant GM/Pro Scouting. Stewart was a name that I brought up as a possible casualty and I only based that the Hawks' track record in the pro scouting area. I thought that was a spot where they really needed to improve.
Well, Stewart has been with the team for 14 years and in a pro scouting role – in some capacity – since 2010 and is being rewarded for his time. I obviously don't know what goes on behind closed doors and the Hawks have deemed Stewart a valuable piece moving forward.
Pierre Gauthier, Barry Smith, Ron Anderson – All of these cats seem to have gone from Director titles to Senior Advisors. What does that mean? Well, could mean they are shifting these "older hockey minds" to more of a part-time advisor role or it could be that Danny Wirtz wants to change titles and overall structure.
Overall, the Blackhawks made some changes but also let go of 17 people in operations and other departments.
Elliotte Friedman predicted this may happen on the 31 Thoughts podcast after the Buffalo housecleaning. It sounds like a lot of organizations are looking to get leaner as their businesses have all ultimately suffered during this time. The Blackhawks were no exception.
Danny Wirtz continues to do an audit of the business side and it will be interesting to see if his fingerprints make it to the hockey side once the offseason sets in.
For now, Stan Bowman appears to be safe.
In other Blackhawks news:
Max Shalunov – Powers also reported this, "Shalunov's agent, Shumi Babaev, said Wednesday the likely plan was for Shalunov to sign in Switzerland to begin the 2020-21 season. Their hope is the Blackhawks will eventually sign him to an entry-level contract once the 2019-20 season officially ends. He would then move from his Swiss team to the Blackhawks whenever the NHL's 2020-21 season begins."
This is not surprising as the Blackhawks (like many other teams) will be making low-risk moves like this to bring in cheap help over the next few years.
Shalunov has been talked about for a while and there's no harm in bringing over your own prospect that has been playing in a professional league vs. men if you're the Blackhawks.
If Shalunov ever joins the team, I don't expect big numbers from him but more of a 3rd line support guy. I wouldn't get your hopes up.
Ian Mitchell – What is going on with these deals? It now looks like Mitchell will be able to burn off a year of his contract, yet he's not allowed to play in the 2019-20 post-season?
What?! How does that make any sense?
This is less than ideal for the Blackhawks who will be tight against the cap for the next few years. Mitchell's entry-level deal will now end the same summer as Kirby Dach and Adam Boqvist. Woof.
Wyatt Kalnyuk – Let's end on a positive note, the Blackhawks have reportedly signed Wisconsin Badgers defenceman Wyatt Kalynuk.
Kalynuk is a former 7th round pick of the Flyers, however, opted to not sign with them as he had his eyes set on Chicago... apparently.
Don't overlook that Kalynuk is a late-round pick and an undersized dman is "an elite offensive talent" according to his last coach Tony Granato (a guy I have plugged as a future coach of the Blackhawks).
It's a wait and see approach as we need to evaluate his game at the pro level, but it appears to be a nice signing by Stan.
That's all I have for now.
Stay safe and see ya out there!