Pro hockey

Hawks in step with Bowman's harmony

2014-03-01T19:00:00Z 2014-03-04T14:55:48Z Hawks in step with Bowman's harmonyAl Hamnik al.hamnik@nwi.com, (219) 933-4154 nwitimes.com
March 01, 2014 7:00 pm  • 

CHICAGO | Blackhawks' Vice-President/General Manager Stan Bowman is a low-key kind of guy, like the team manager who provides fresh towels and the Gatorade.

He prefers it that way, thank you.

But when Bowman does speak publicly, it's about something he sees as being a big deal, like Saturday night's NHL Outdoor Stadium Series at snowy Soldier Field.

In his 13th season with the Hawks and his fourth as their GM, Bowman led the franchise to their fourth and fifth Stanley Cup championships in 2010 and 2013 — the first GM to win a pair of titles in the salary cap era.

With the trade deadline approaching, Bowman said he has no plans to shake things up.

"We're not focused on the deadline. We're happy with the team we have," he said before Saturday's game. "I think it's hard when a guy comes in for a couple weeks and then you jump into the playoffs and you can't get him acclimated to your system and the way you play and who you're going to play with.

"So we're not looking at that at all. We've got a great group here. Lot of chemistry with our guys. We're focused on just playing well."

The Hawks did add Peter Regin before the Olympics for some added depth at forward.

"He's been a versatile player, and his couple years that he's been in the NHL he's played at mostly center. This year the Islanders were using him at left wing. We like his speed and I like his skill level.

"That was the main thing we were focused on — having a guy that can come in and help us out whether it's at center or wing. He complements the style of hockey that we play."

Bowman's strength as a GM has been his ability to assemble a roster where stars and reserves bond well without missing a beat.

"Our group, the coaches, Joel (Quenneville) has a great feel for how to use players and get the most out of them," Bowman said. "That is one of the qualities that is really underrated — finding a skill that a player does well and allowing him to do that.

"I think we allow our offensive players to have some freedom to do the things they do with the puck. In terms of other players fitting in, I think we have a lot of strong players around them. We don't just rely on one line. We try to play a pretty balanced game, top to bottom. People call it our fourth line, but Marcus Kruger played great in the Olympics. He wins the silver medal. I don't know how many other teams have their centerman who won an Olympic medal and he's on their so-called fourth line."

Bowman refuses to be "reactionary" any time a divisional opponent pulls off an eye-opening trade, like the St. Louis Blues picking up Ryan Miller and Mike Ott on Friday night.

"The Blues have been a great team all year. Even if you go back to last year, they're a tough opponent," Bowman said. "You're going to have to play your best against them.

"But I think you can't be reactionary that way. Those guys haven't even played a game yet in St. Louis. You have to see how it all shakes out, but we're more focused on what we can do. We have to play good hockey."

The Hawks and Penguins, Chicago's opponent at Soldier Field on Saturday, are going on six years of sustaining cap success, probably the biggest challenge next to fielding a winner.

"Sustaining some stability is No. 1," Bowman emphasized. "We've had the same coaching staff in place. The main players are there year to year. When you have that, No. 1, when you have success, you want to try to keep the guys that were most pivotal in getting that success.

"We've been able to do that, and obviously, Pittsburgh has done the same thing. They've identified the players you have to keep."

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