A handful of reporters had the chance to talk to Blackhawks general manager Stan Bowman last week in Calgary.
Most of the questions were about the March 3 trade deadline and how the Hawks would approach it.
Here are some of the highlights of the conversation:
Question — On whether he had any concerns about the Hawks, who appear to be on cruise control, going forward:
Bowman: “Every game matters still. You can lose as easily as you can win. We’re always looking to get better, and that’s a general comment. … We’re going to meet over the next couple weeks, get ready before the [Olympic] roster freeze. I’m sure we’ll meet over the Olympic break as well and see where it’s at at that point. There’s always talk when you get close to the deadline. I think every team, even the teams that are doing well, are looking to see if they can fine tune it.
“It’s kind of too early now to say where we’ll be five weeks from now.”
On whether team chemistry will be a major factor in his decision-making:
“Chemistry is very important. But having said that, I think we’ve got a really strong group here. It’s not a situation where they wouldn’t be able to accept a new guy into the mix here. Every year teams add players at some point. Some do it early. Some do it at the deadline. If we do anything, we wouldn’t be any different than that. I don’t think our group is any different. If anything, we’ve got a really strong group of guys I think will be accepting … That part of it is not a big concern.”
On whether trading away a certain player could hurt the Hawks’ chemistry:
“That’s something you have to think about. But at the same time, you have to look at what the trade-off would be because presumably you’d be getting somebody back if you’re trading somebody. Those things all factor into the decisions you make. But what’s most important is what matters on the ice. The chemistry does play into that. You can’t overlook it.”
Does the Hawks’ cap position factor into his decision-making?
“I think the decisions we to have to make are going to be based on a lot of factors. One of them would be how the guys play, finish out the season and not just to the deadline but to finish off during the end of our season. We’ll see how those guys perform. I don’t know if the cap in the future is going to impact any moves we make.”
On whether a trade is more valuable now as opposed to the offseason:
“I don’t think you can look at that way. You sometimes out-fox yourself. You don’t really know if a guy’s value goes up or down. You can think he’s got more value at the deadline, but if your team does well and he has a good playoff, than his value can be even higher. I guess you got to kind of assess it on balance. That’s a little bit too much guessing right there to say he is going to be worth more now as opposed to three months from now.”
If defense is an area he would want some depth, since the returns of Dave Bolland (back) and Adam Burish (knee) should add depth up front:
“I think you always use depth on defense. But I think if you would talk to all 30 teams, they’d probably say the same thing. Even the teams that are deep on ‘D,’ in theory, are worried about defense.
“I’m actually comfortable with how our defense has played. Jordan Hendry when he’s played, he’s played really well. The other six guys have been dynamite as well.”
On whether there is any truth in the Hawks and Ilya Kovalchuk trade rumors:
“I’m not going to comment on individual players. What we’re going to do over the next few weeks is we’re going to meet and we’re going figure out where do we think it makes sense to add, whether it’s that type of a player or a different style or a different position. At that point, we’ll see what the price is to get the guy if we think it’s going to make our team better. I don’t want to rule anything in or rule anything out because we haven’t really gotten down the path that far.”
If it’s possible he won’t make any moves:
“You have to assess what makes sense short term and long term. I think obviously we’ve got a good group here, and you want to try to give ourselves the best chance. That might mean doing something, but it also might not. Sometimes things don’t materialize for a number of reasons. There is cap implications. Sometimes it’s tough to fit a certain player in even if you could acquire them.”