Despite vowing to keep Brandon Saad in Chicago for “years to come,” GM Stan Bowman shipped the pending restricted forward to Columbus on Tuesday as part of a seven-player deal.
The deal is surprising considering both Bowman and Saad appeared confident a deal would get done just two weeks ago.
“The money’s going to come and go,” said Saad on June 17. “To win championships and play on a great team, that’s what it’s all about.”
During a conference call on Tuesday, Bowman admitted contract talks didn’t go as he predicted.
“I think it’s fair to say we both tried hard to make it work. It just wasn’t going to work in this scenario,” he said. “We certainly tried our best. I don’t think we ever came close on a contract. It wasn’t for a lack of effort.
“I respect their side, it just didn’t work for us. Obviously it didn’t work for them and that’s why we had to move on.”
The 22-year-old spent parts of four seasons with the Blackhawks winning Stanley Cups in 2013 and 2015.
His three-year, $2.8 million entry-level deal expires tomorrow, making him a restricted free agent.
“It’s a challenge to try to negotiate a contract,” said Bowman. “We gave it our best shot, we worked hard at it with Brandon and his agent. We weren’t able to reach an agreement. When that became apparent, then we turned our focus to trying to improve our team for next season.”
Bowman admitted an offer sheet from another club was a possibility and something that factored into his decision making process.
With the Blackhawks mired in a nine-game losing streak, plenty of solutions have been thrown out on how to fix the team. Shake up the lines. Trade Patrick Kane. Get a new goalie.
Fire Joel Quenneville.
The latter recently came to the forefront when Chicago GM Stan Bowman gave Quenneville a vote of confidence. While some might see that as the kiss of death — most coaches say a public vote of confidence is often a sign of future unemployment — Quenneville might appreciate the gesture given all the grief he’s faced. And according to one ex-coach, that grief is probably weighing on Quenneville.
“I’m sure the criticism will bother him in some shape or form,” Crawford told the Chicago Sun-Times. “[But] he’s been through that before in Colorado and in St. Louis. He’s a smart veteran coach. He knows they’re a win away from turning this around.”
Two current NHL coaches also offered their thoughts on Coach Q.
Barry Trotz, Nashville: “I’ll say this, when you win, coaches get too much credit, and when you lose, you get too much blame. I don’t know all the criticism they’re giving him, but I know he’s one of the best coaches in the NHL. They’re just going through a dry patch.”
Dave Tippett, Phoenix: “It’s funny when you coach that long, and all of a sudden people think you’ve just forgotten everything you’ve learned over the last 20 years. It’s a volatile business, but you’ve got to look at the big picture, not just the last nine games.”
The ‘Hawks will look to snap their losing streak tonight at MSG against the Eastern Conference-leading Rangers. It won’t be easy — the Blueshirts at 18-6-2 at home this season — but you’d expect Chicago to play with a previously-unseen sense of desperation. The Blackhawks’ losing streak is their longest since an 0-8-2 stretch in 2007 and they’ve dropped 11 in a row on the road for the first time since the 2003-04 campaign.