As the NHL’s trade deadline approached, Chicago Blackhawks General Manager Stan Bowman wasn’t bunkered in his office furiously working the phones.
Instead, Bowman sat in the stands at the United Center and calmly watched the Hawks practice Wednesday, cellphone in hand but not to his ear. If it appeared Bowman wasn’t even trying to make a deal, it’s because, well, he wasn’t.
“We weren’t looking to do anything [Wednesday],” Bowman said shortly after the 2 p.m. deadline passed. “We made our big move earlier [this season] when we got Kris Versteeg, and we’ve made some other minor moves in between. ... But we weren’t looking to do anything else.
“With the way the cap situation is this year, every team is tight against [it], so in order to make moves, you’re going to have trade money away – and we don’t have any players that we want to trade away. We’ve really accomplished a lot over the last couple of seasons with the group we have here, and we’re not looking to break it apart and try to bring in new players. If we can add to it, which we’ve been doing all year, by not trading away roster players from here, that was always our objective.”
So while some big names changed teams around the league, Bowman stood pat, satisfied with the group that has been in contention throughout this season after winning its second Stanley Cup in 4 years in 2013.
“We have a plan in place to keep this group together, and we’ve got some young players that are right on the horizon that will be pushing for big spots on our team,” Bowman said. “I believe in this group. I’ve talked a lot to our coaching staff, and they believe in the group that we’ve had here. We’ve had a lot of success with the main players, and we’ve been able to surround them with young players who can contribute. All the main guys from last year’s team are back. That doesn’t guarantee you anything other than, if you play your best hockey, you’re a tough team to beat. We have to go out there and do it and earn the wins every night.”
So with the dust now settled after another trade deadline, does Bowman believe he has the team in place to make another run for a cup?
“I do,” he said. “... There are a lot of components to our team that are similar to a year ago. Some of the younger players are better now than they were a year ago, so that’s exciting to see. I don’t think we’ve had any guys that have just dropped off and lost their talent over the last 6 months. We have a really good group that understands what it takes to win.”
Coach Joel Quenneville added, “we definitely like our team in a lot of ways. It will be a great stretch run.
“It you look at the last couple, three deadlines, we’ve added ... I wouldn’t say huge deals, but [guys who] came in and really fit in well with our team. The nucleus and the core has always been in place. ... All aspects of our team, we’re comfortable with.”
• Acquired Kris Versteeg on Nov. 14
• Acquired Peter Regin & Pierre-Marc Bouchard on Feb. 6
• Traded Brandon Pirri to Panthers on Sunday for 2 draft picks
• Re-signed Brandon Bollig on Monday
• Acquired David Rundblad & Mathieu Brisebois on Tuesday