In Jonathan Toews’ return to the lineup after an 11-game absence, the Blackhawks captured a 4-3 overtime victory over the Oilers. It’s been a busy month-plus for the Hawks since Toews last laced up the skates. Most recently, the team hired Kyle Davidson as its new general manager. Following Thursday night’s win, Toews spoke for the first time on Davidson. And in the process, he delivered some apparent criticism of Chicago’s former GM, Stan Bowman.
When pressed on Davidson and the Blackhawks’ rebuild, here’s what Toews had to say:
“Ultimately I believe he’s [Davidson] that kind of guy that knows how to make decisions not based on attachment or ego, and he’s going to do what’s right for the organization. At the same time, there’s still a lot of uncertainty, but it’s exciting to at least know that this team will have some direction in the next little bit here.”– Via Ben Pope of the Chicago Sun-Times
While Toews was addressing what Davidson brings to the table, his comparative tone clearly hints at some dissatisfaction with Bowman’s recent history as Blackhawks GM.
Examining Toews’ Comments on the Blackhawks GM Position
First, Jonathan Toews believes Kyle Davidson won’t make decisions “based on attachment or ego.” The flip side of that? Stan Bowman showed plenty of both qualities in several of his moves at the helm.
Attachment? Look no further than how often he brought former players back, some on multiple occasions. Not all of those transactions were bad moves per se, but was that approach really helping the Blackhawks build for the future? Short answer: No.
As for ego, shipping a first-round defenseman prospect out of town for a project of a one-way forward who couldn’t crack a bad roster with his former team is a big-brain move, and not in a good way. That’s what Bowman did when he sent Henri Jokiharju to the Buffalo Sabres for Alex Nylander in July 2019. That’s not the only example, but it’s one that many Hawks fans remember vividly.
Beyond pointing out differing GM approaches, Toews commented on the team’s future. The Blackhawks’ captain is excited to “at least know that this team will have some direction in the next little bit here.”
Stan Bowman and the former Blackhawks’ regime were experts in mixed signals. If you’re keeping score at home, this week’s developments technically mark the second Hawks’ “rebuild” announcement since 2020. In case you forgot about the first one, that’s because Bowman ditched it not even a year into the process.
Just nine months after the above message went out, Bowman traded another first-round defenseman prospect, Adam Boqvist, and two high-round draft picks to the Columbus Blue Jackets for Seth Jones. Of course, Bowman then signed Jones to a mammoth eight-year, $76 million contract. And that extension doesn’t even go into effect until 2022-23.
So much for being “committed to developing young players.”
All Eyes Ahead
Stan Bowman is the past; Kyle Davidson is the present — and future. Jonathan Toews believes Davidson is “the right person for the job,” an assertion that will be tested over the next several years. Only time will tell if Toews is right, but he clearly sees differences between the Blackhawks’ new GM and his predecessor.
“I’m not Stan [Bowman], I’m a different person. With that comes philosophical differences,” Davidson said shortly after filling Bowman’s former role in October.
There’s no reason to doubt him yet, but guiding the Blackhawks through a proper rebuild will speak louder than any words ever could.
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