By Jay Zawaski-
(CBS) Every year, the NHL’s trade deadline delivers hours upon hours of entertainment. In the days and hours leading up to that moment, rumors spread crazily, while fans and media lose touch with reality.
I am one of those people. Admittedly, it’s easy to get caught up in the excitement and hearsay. It’s fun when your favorite team trades for a new, shiny toy. However, when the smoke clears, it’s often the patient general manager who wins the day.
Chicago’s Stan Bowman has always been a patient GM, and for Wednesday’s deadline he remained as such. While that can be frustrating to observers of the Blackhawks (especially coming off a divisional loss at home), it’s important to remember that the Hawks are in a unique situation.
They’re already loaded with superstars. Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane, Marian Hossa and Duncan Keith would be the best players on most other NHL teams. Even guys like Patrick Sharp, Niklas Hjalmarsson and Brent Seabrook would be considered “star players.” In a salary cap league, having seven players of that caliber is nearly impossible. After Tuesday’s trade for David Rundblad, the Hawks had $52,489 left in cap space. They didn’t have the space to add a school teacher, let alone a second-line center. No number of draft picks or prospects would have changed that fact. The “cost” of having such a deep and skilled team is a boring trade deadline.
“We didn’t have any players that we wanted to trade away,” Bowman told reporters Wednesday afternoon at the United Center. “We’ve got a plan in place to keep this team together, and we’ve got more young players coming up.”
Those are the words of a sensible man, though they’re more likely to rile up meatball nation than calm panicked Hawk fans’ nerves. If Twitter is an indicator of how the Blackhawks will fare this season, they’re going to miss the playoffs by 10 points, Corey Crawford is going to give up six goals a game and Kane will never score again. “Pathetic joke of a GM,” wrote one Twitterer.
Bowman was criticized in the exact same manner last year at the trade deadline, and that worked out pretty well for the Hawks. The reality of the situation is that Bowman didn’t want to trade Nick Leddy or Johnny Oduya or Bryan Bickell in a knee-jerk move.
Would trading any of those guys for David Legwand or Marcel Goc (the only two centers dealt) really have solved the Hawks’ problems? No. It wouldn’t have. Remember, the Hawks’ true second-line center of the future, Teuvo Teravainen, is coming soon — maybe even this season.
Have some faith in the plan, Hawk fans.
Jay Zawaski covers the Blackhawks for CBSChicago.com and 670 The Score. Follow him on Twitter at @JayZawaski670.