Hometown loyalties trumped Blackhawks' impressive offers
Blackhawks VP/GM Stan Bowman spoke with the media Wednesday night to discuss the free agency period to date.
On the offer the Blackhawks made to Zach Parise: “It really didn’t come down to a financial offer. We made a very impressive offer to Zach, but I think ultimately it came down to a family decision. You have to respect that… That’s understandable. When that’s the thing that’s the tipping point, you have to wish them well and move on to the next matter at hand. You can’t dwell on it for too long. We made an impressive case; the feedback we got from the agent was that they were very impressed with everything the Blackhawks had to offer. But the family thing was what really carried the day.”
On whether the Blackhawks can still make “a splash” in free agency: “Our objective is not to make ‘a splash’, it’s to win hockey games. You can accomplish that by getting high-profile players – that’s one way to do it – but the objective is to put a team on the ice that has the best chance to win the Stanley Cup next year.
"It’s not like we have seven holes to fill. Even if we brought back the same roster [from last season], I think there would be ways to get better with that group. I think there’s some growth from within that we’re going to have. We’re going to look at adding players from the outside, whether from a trade or free agency. But you can’t overlook the team that we have in Chicago: we’ve got Patrick Kane, Jonathan Toews, Patrick Sharp, Marian Hossa, Brent Seabrook, Duncan Keith, Dave Bolland, and the list goes on. We haven’t even talked about players who will play bigger roles: Andrew Shaw will play a full season, not a half-season, Brandon Saad – who I think will be pushing for a bigger role on our team – and Daniel Carcillo, who played half a year... We have a lot of really good pieces already in Chicago. It’s not about adding a player simply to say we added this guy and made a splash – our objective is to try to put the best team on the ice next year.”
On moving on after Parise and Ryan Suter’s decision: “It’s our job to try to make our team better. That’s what free agency is about: you try to go after players that you think can help your team. It’s the same thing we’ve done every year. We’ve made pitches in the past and I guess there wasn’t as much publicity surrounding it; this became a saga... We’ve pursued players in the past and it didn’t get a lot of play. They have good talent that would complement our team; that’s the reason you go after players. I think it’s obvious that they would be a nice addition, but there are other players who fall into that category. We’re not stopping our pursuit because we didn’t land them."
On developing your own talent: “We did pursue players; the one thing I‘ve tried to convey is that we have a really good nucleus of our team here. We have a full complement of players who we’re confident in; if you can make it better, you make it better. But I’m very confident in the group we have right now. If there’s one thing that is apparent when you look at this free agent class is the importance of drafting and developing you own players. There aren’t a lot of top free agents, and you have to overpay relative to their value to get them, so it really drives home the significance of drafting well and developing your own talent. That’s one of our strengths; the last two drafts, we’ve drafted very well. We intend to bring them to the Blackhawks in short order. If you look at last year’s draft, we have some players already playing significant roles on our team, and that’s a rarity. That’s the thing that’s become apparent to me; if you’re attempting to build a team through the free agent market, that’s really tough to do. It’s always nice to add a piece or two, which is the role we’re in, as opposed to some other teams who are desperate to get their team going. That’s the difference.”