Fan Q&A With GM Dale Tallon
Is there room on this roster for an enforcer and is David Koci the guy?
-- Bob, Chicago
Yes and yes.
Given Kevin Lowe's attempts to sign RFAs, do you anticipate this approach will increase throughout the league, and if so, how much more difficult is it going to be to manage existing Hawk contracts as well as plan for what would have been potential UFAs? Will you start negotiations with Brent Seabrook earlier than planned?
-- Jeff from Salt Lake City
I imagine there will be depending on cap room on certain teams and what your needs are. Of course I think moving forward people will try. I don't know how often and how many times it'll happen, but you have to be prepared to protect your own and we're willing to step up to the plate and keep our own players; develop and keep them. Yes, it probably will expedite our contract negotiations.
The Radim Vrbata/Kevin Adams trade doesn't make a lot of sense to some fans. For a team that lacks scoring, the Hawks gave up their #2 point scorer for a limited skilled player who will not help in that category. Can you explain your thinking along this line? Do you believe that you've improved the club to the point where lack of scoring may have been overcome? Thanks for your efforts. -- sulaco
That's a legitimate question. But with the additions of Samsonov, Perreault, Kane, Toews and Lang, and Ruutu's health, we expect that we'll have more scoring right there with those guys and we felt that we needed a player to shut down other players, win face-offs, kill penalties, and to fill that role was a very important need for us. We had to give up something to get something, but we feel that we make up for his offense with the other players that we've added to our lineup.
Your first foray into building a team with veteran free agent signings did not work and I think you've done a remarkable job rectifying those mistakes while still rebuilding from the ground up. It seems like you now are entering another new phase: building your young core and deciding which players will be a part of it and which ones will be used for trades, depth, etc... How comfortable do you feel about you and your staff making the correct calls on these players and maximizing the values of those who will leave via trade?
-- Ziggy, Chicago
That's the million dollar question. We do have a lot of assets now and keeping the right ones and fitting them into the roster... I think we're in better shape now than we have ever been as far as depth. Now that we do have a nice mix of veterans and young players, it'll give us more time to make decisions on these young players. You're hopeful you will bring in the right players at the right time and we are very confident that we have depth at all positions. It's going to be a battle for these young guys to make our team now. The guys up in the big club will realize that they have to perform or they'll lose their jobs to some of these young players. The difficult job is putting it all together.
We are very comfortable with the staff. Our staff has done a great job over the last few years. Stan Bowman, Marc Bergevin, Rick Dudley, Mats Hallin, Al MacIsaac... we've had input from everywhere and everyone and we're very confident in their abilities and we have a good relationship. We agree to disagree at times and moving forward we will make decisions for the organization and not for individual benefits.
If I am not mistaken, the Hawks still own Pavel Vorobiev rights. Will he be given an opportunity to play for the Hawks or in the NHL again? Do opposing teams ever ask for his rights in proposed trade offers?
-- Greg, Ontario, Canada
No and no.
Although you would be sure to credit your entire staff for the positive strides this organization has taken thus far, can you speak specifically about assistant general manager Rick Dudley -- his input level and role in helping you to rebuild the Blackhawks, as well as how his prior experience in the GM position has helped you in getting acclimated to your GM role? I think you and Mr. Dudley (scouting staff as well) make a good team. I'm hoping you guys stick together for a while. Keep up the good work and thanks for your time.
We are very fortunate to have Rick Dudley on our side. His impact has been immeasurable as far as what he has brought to the table. He has rebuilt teams in the league before. He's had success as a winner. His ability to travel, scout and to enjoy that process, plus his ability to read talent, are all positive things.
Was Andrei Zyuzin a targeted acquisition or the best return for Adrian Aucoin? Also, do you really think there's a roster spot for him with the kids, Jim Vandermeer and Magnus Johansson?
-- Jim, Joliet
Definitely there is a roster spot for him. His skating and puck moving ability are assets. He has become a real solid player. When he was originally drafted he was an offensive weapon and it took him a long time to learn how to play the position. As far as being a defensive defenseman, he has learned that; he learned that in Minnesota. He has become a real steady player and his ability to skate and move the puck with his ability now to play defense, yes, we expect him to play well and play a lot of minutes for us.
Mr. Tallon, it seems as soon as the NHL altered the schedule in an attempt to increase rivalries, the league would like to revert back to a more balanced schedule. How do you feel about the current schedule -- would you prefer the league/Hawks to play the current slate or a more balanced one?
-- Brendan, Pittsburgh
If we're not going to play division-based playoffs, we should play more conference games. If we're not going to build up rivalries through the playoffs, then we should just go back to more conference play since we're in a conference-based playoff system.
Dale, thanks for taking the time to answer some questions from the fans. We really appreciate it. In regards to the salary cap, what are your feelings with the way it has played out? Since the cap has grown so rapidly, do you think it has given the small market teams the chance to land big name players they were looking for?
-- Brad Stevenson, Alsip
It seems everything is almost the same as it was before. There are more teams spending more money than before, but they still have budgets to meet. The system has still benefited the teams that are willing to spend toward the cap.
I would assume that the minor league coach, the head coach, and the GM need to be on the same page in acquiring, developing, and playing the prospects in an agreed upon system. How do you, Denis Savard, and Mike Haviland work together to coordinate this?
-- Randy, Ottawa
We meet on a continual basis. We just met, had our coaches meeting a couple weeks ago and all of the coaches and full staff were in. We all believe the people in Rockford have to play the same system that we're playing up top. Mike Haviland is a successful coach and we take input from everybody in the organization. We all agree to do what is right to make us better; that's how it works. Savvy's willing to learn from Mike and Mike is willing to learn from Savvy, and from John Torchetti and Mark Hardy, and Rick Dudley's coaching experience is invaluable as well. It's a team collaboration and we're very positive with the direction both teams are headed.
Bonus question: What changes will there be in the new style jersey, if any at all, and when will the Hawks show off the new jersey?
-- Dave, Northern Illinois
September 14 we'll show it off. Everything is pretty well status quo as far as the look. It's just different fabrics and a different fit. It's a tighter fit -- more aerodynamic, more modern fabrics that are moisture wicking to improve comfort level so players will be able to stay cool for a longer period of time. But the overall jersey will look the same.