The lockout has reduced Joel Quenneville to aspiring pitching ace. Will he and GM Stan Bowman get the chance to improve the Blackhawks this season?
Chicago Blackhawks GM Stan Bowman and head coach Joel Quenneville may or may not be in a power struggle, which may come to a head down the road. One thing's for sure. The NHL lockout has put the clamps on any escalation of a possible difference of opinion.
With no players in camp and the preseason officially cancelled, fans are digging in for what could be a long work stoppage. What might have been seen as a key season for the 'Hawks front office is, so far, completely moot.
Over the summer, Quenneville got his choice of assistants, keeping Mike Kitchen and jettisoning Mike Haviland. Jamie Kompon came over from the Stanley Cup-winning Los Angeles Kings. Bowman didn't make a lot of noise in free agency, but did obtain some defensive depth in Sheldon Brookbank and Michal Rozsival.
Back in May, I charged that both the GM and Coach had a hand in Chicago's early exit. Here's how I saw both sides of the debate:
Argument A: Stan Bowman's the Problem
Bowman decided to solve his second-line center dilemma by having Quenneville convert Patrick Kane from his spot outside. He did not adequately address holes on defense before the season or at the trade deadline.
Bowman let a fat wad of cap space go to waste while deals needed to be made. Most of the one-year deals were disappointments. He is not getting Quenneville the players he needs to make Chicago an elite team.
Who faces more pressure when hockey gets underway?
Argument B: Quenneville's at FaultHe got a defenseman who could have helped clear the front of the net in Steve Montador and opened the season with him as a forward. He yanked Viktor Stalberg's leash even as he was having a breakout season.
Special teams were horrendous, and Quenneville seemed to have no answers as the team went on a nine-game slide in February.
Bowman went out and got Andrew Brunette, one of Q's guys, and the move was exposed as a clinker fairly early in the season. Then the team acquired a suitable bottom-pairing defenseman in Sami Lepisto, who Quenneville chose not to take out of the box. The coach also played John Scott far too often and never gave a lineup the chance to develop chemistry.
Quenneville could stand to use the personnel given to him by his GM more productively. Bowman could get his coach the type of players he wants. I had hoped that the 2012-13 season would see both men working more in sync with each other.
Any kind of progress isn't happening until games start for real. Like all other questions concerning the Blackhawks, this will remain unresolved until a CBA can be reached.