CHICAGO – The Chicago Blackhawks abruptly re-assigned general manager Dale Tallon on Tuesday, less than two months after the team he helped revive from the bottom of the standings reached the Western Conference final.
A clerical mistake hastened Tallon’s departure. President John McDonough said the miscue was not all Tallon’s fault and that he bore ultimate responsibility.
But asked if the move would have been made if not for the mix-up, McDonough said: “Probably not.”
Tallon, 58, was replaced by assistant GM Stan Bowman, the 36-year-old son of legendary NHL coach Scotty Bowman. The elder Bowman was hired last year as a senior adviser and remains with the team. Tallon accepted a two-year extension to remain with the team as an adviser.
“He’s been a tremendous mentor to me,” Stan Bowman said of Tallon.
The decision comes after the NHL Players Association filed a grievance when the team missed a deadline for sending qualifying offers to restricted free agents. Tallon earlier denied that the problem and grievance had caused the Blackhawks to overpay the players, including Kris Versteeg, the team’s top rookie last season.
“It costs us some money on the front end but we’d be paying this money eventually,” team owner Rocky Wirtz said.
Tallon has been a member of the organization for more 30 years, including five as a player and 10 in the front office. He was named general manager in June 2005 and under his guidance, the team drafted young stars Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews, made trades for scorers like Martin Havlat and Patrick Sharp, and signed free agents Nikolai Khabibulin, Brian Campbell and Cristobal Huet.
Last season, the Blackhawks started drawing fans back to the United Center and advanced to the playoffs for the first time in seven years, losing to the Detroit Red Wings in the conference final.
Earlier this month, the Blackhawks signed free-agent Marian Hossa from Detroit to a 12-year, US$62.8-million deal. Havlat, the team’s leading scorer last season, was let go and he was signed by Minnesota.
McDonough also said the team needed to improve its communication and decision-making, though he said he played no role in the Hossa and Havlat developments.
“I have been with this organization in several different capacities since coming over as a player in 1973 and although my position has changed, my goals have not,” Tallon said in a statement released by the team. “I’ve seen Stan come up through our ranks and I’m confident he is the right person to step in.
“This is what is best for the Chicago Blackhawks.”
Bowman has been with the team for nine years, including two seasons as the director of hockey operations and four seasons as an assistant to the GM. He called the promotion an honour.
“We will not rest until we reach our goal of winning the Stanley Cup and establishing consistent success,” he said.