Bowman likes morale boost brought by trades
That sums up the Blackhawks' position after the team completed its third trade in four days, sending winger Ben Smith to San Jose for center Andrew Desjardins hours before Monday's deadline.
The move completed a mini-makeover of the locker room and sent a message to the players -- and the league -- that they plan on taking a run at the Stanley Cup this season despite missing Patrick Kane for 11 more weeks.
The trades by general manager Stan Bowman infused some much-needed life into a Hawks' locker room that has also been dealing with ugly rumors on social media.
"We're just excited as players to know that they're doing everything they can to try and make us better and do everything they can to give us a good chance to win this year," said defenseman Duncan Keith.
Center Antoine Vermette, whom the Hawks acquired Saturday from Arizona, gives the team a veteran presence in all situations on the ice. And Kimmo Timonen, despite not playing all season due to a blood-clot issue, will ease coach Joel Quenneville's anxiety when it comes to shoring up his defense.
"I think we've got a 1-2 punch that can help us," Quenneville said.
Said Marcus Kruger: "Obviously great to get both of these guys and (they) seem like great guys as well."
Bowman said team morale has definitely been boosted over the last few days.
"This time of year is when it's nice to have an infusion of some excitement and some new players," Bowman said. "Just being around the team today, it's nice to be adding to your group."
In addition to Klas Dahlbeck, the Hawks gave up a first-rounder for Vermette. For Timonen, who will be 40 on March 18, the Hawks gave up a second-rounder and a conditional fourth-rounder.
Some NHL observers believe the price for Timonen was too steep, but Bowman doesn't see it that way.
"You don't like to give up draft picks, but at the same time, it is a draft pick," Bowman said. "It's something you have time to recoup down the road. Right now, we're trying to improve our team. I think we have a good chance here to be even better than we've been."
Bowman had been in discussions for months regarding Vermette. When things heated up over the last few days, the Hawks pounced.
"When you get close to a deal, you really want to close it because he was the No. 1 forward we were targeting," Bowman said. "He brings a lot of versatility to the group. ...
"Sometimes his offensive game gets under rated a little bit, but we expect him to contribute in both ends."
Now the question is whether the additions are just rent-a-players? Their contracts are up at season's end and the salary-cap-strapped Hawks would have to get creative to retain Vermette. Bowman, though, cited Johnny Oduya as an example of a player the Hawks traded for who they didn't let get away when his deal expired in 2012.
"He was such a great fit that we made it a priority to bring him back," Bowman said. "If things work well and these players want to stay with us, then absolutely (we'll try to re-sign them)."
Near the end of Monday's news conference, Bowman said the rumors regarding Patrick Sharp "never came up at all" when talking with other GMs. There were reports that Sharp was on the trading block, but Bowman went to bat for his veteran winger.
"Sharpie is a huge part of this and he has been for many years," Bowman said. "He was our leading scorer last year.
"(Despite his numbers being down due to injury), he's a big part of the fabric of the team and we're excited about getting him going. I think he's one of the guys who is probably going to get more ice time as we go here.
"We're looking forward and we're excited about him being a big part of making a run."
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