Wirtz: Blackhawks to hire GM before March 21 trade deadline
Three months after Stan Bowman resigned as the Blackhawks' general manager, CEO Danny Wirtz issued a release Wednesday updating fans and media on how the franchise expects to move forward.
Wirtz said the Hawks "plan to create a next generation Hockey Operations department with a path to sustained success."
Step 1 will be finding the general manager, and the Hawks will reach out to perspective candidates this week. Whomever is hired will report directly to Wirtz.
Interim GM Kyle Davidson, who took over for Bowman, is an option and he will interview for the position.
Other possibilities include former Hawks forward and TV analyst Eddie Olczyk, as well as NHL Network analyst Kevin Weekes.
Wirtz said the role will be filled before the March 21 trade deadline.
"We are looking to hire the best strategic mind who can build and develop a Hockey Operations leadership team that will be best in class across professional sports," Wirtz said. "This new leader will create a team environment that brings the best experts together to guide decision-making on the future of the Blackhawks while ensuring they share in the overall organizational goals of consistently competing at a championship level.
"And without question, he or she must be someone who exhibits our organizational values."
Wirtz will lead the interview process and be joined by President of Business Operations Jaime Faulkner. An advisory group will "offer perspective on the role and those being interviewed."
Whomever is hired will eventually decide if the team will retain interim coach Derek King, associate coach Marc Crawford and all of the assistants, or if it will go in a new direction.
The Hawks also plan on hosting a town-hall style meeting next week with fans, partners, staff and media to explain the franchise's "greater vision."
In the bigger picture, the new GM faces a monumental task in attempting to restore the Hawks to glory.
Which path will he or she take?
• Should the Hawks tear everything down and go through an entire rebuild? Trade Patrick Kane and/or Jonathan Toews? See what they can get for Alex DeBrincat and/or Seth Jones? Look into what Dominik Kubalik might net in return? Connor Murphy? Could anyone be shipped out?
• Or should the Hawks try to win again with Kane and Toews? That seems like a longshot, but maybe Marc-Andre Fleury brings a promising prospect or two, the Hawks make the right moves in free agency and they become a playoff team again.
After watching the way the Minnesota Wild and Colorado Avalanche play, it would seem Option A is best. The Hawks don't have near enough talent up and down the roster to seriously contend with teams like that on a nightly basis.
The Hawks have needed new blood at the GM position for years. They're finally going to get it -- whether that's Davidson, Olczyk, Weekes or someone else. That person can come in, take a hard, honest look at the roster and prospect pool and make the right decisions for the long haul.
That is, as long as Wirtz, Faulkner and Co. put the right person in charge.