BUFFALO — Stan Bowman didn’t want to ship Andrew Shaw out of Chicago.
But he didn’t have any other option.
“We’re trying to build our team for many years to come,” Bowman said on Friday night, just hours after sending Shaw to Montreal for a pair of picks. “In order to have the future Blackhawks coming through, you have to sometimes make tough decisions.”
Bowman admitted this decision didn’t pop up overnight, and that it’s been clear for a while that Shaw, a pending RFA, wouldn’t be back in Chicago. But within the last week, everybody’s fate was cemented. Once Shaw’s initial ask was leaked — believed to be $4.5 million annually — and next years’ $73 million salary cap ceiling was confirmed, Bowman had to make a move.
“It was evident long ago that something was going to have to give, with the money we have committed and where the salary cap is,” Bowman said. “We looked at a lot of different options, and this is the one that made the most sense.”
It’s going to be odd seeing the ‘Hawks without Shaw in the lineup. One of the team’s most colorful players and a fan favorite, the 24-year-old has been a key contributor to a pair of Stanley Cup championships, and scored at least 14 goals in each of the last three seasons.
His grinding, agitating ways make him a royal pain to play against, and his postseason value is large. Shaw was a point-a-game player against St. Louis in the opening round this year — missing one game due to a suspension for making a homophobic slur — and was very productive during the Cup run of ’15, scoring five goals and 12 points in 23 games.
A fifth-round pick in 2011, Shaw defied the odds to make the ‘Hawks in his draft year, and spent his entire career in the Windy City.
And now he’s off to Montreal.
“You have to make tough decisions some times,” Bowman admitted. “This was one of those.”