As I was driving to work this afternoon, I heard a few people on the radio expressing their surprise that the Blackhawks fired, errr... reassigned, GM Dale Tallon on Tuesday.
I wasn't surprised at all. If you've been following the team for a long time as I have, you saw this one coming. After the Hawks fired former coach Denis Savard four games into the season last year, I knew Tallon was on borrowed time. He was the last link to the Bill Wirtz regime, and even if the Hawks had won the Cup this year, he was going to get shown the door.
Hawks president John "McCub" McDonough (pictured, left) announced the promotion of assistant GM Stan Bowman (pictured, right) into Tallon's position. Tallon will become Senior Advisor for Hockey Operations, which probably means he's now in charge of the Bud Light Ice Crew.
I actually think Bowman will do fine in his new job. He's been in the Hawks front office for eight years, and he'll have his famous father, Scotty, to lean on for advice.
As for Tallon, I think McCub is using this recent fiasco with the Hawks restricted free agents as an excuse to make this move. The Hawks didn't get their qualifying offers out on time to nine restricted free agents. Tallon managed to sign them all, but in the process, he probably doled out more dollars than he needed to -- just to prevent a grievance from the NHLPA from being heard. I'd guess that affair cost the Blackhawks somewhere between $2 million and $4 million in extra money rewarded to players.
Still, though, I think McCub and Tallon hate each others guts, and that is the primary reason for this decision. McCub is known for his marketing prowess, and every seat was sold last year at the United Center. But he doesn't know beans about hockey -- he just thinks he does. I think Tallon has always resented McCub's meddling on the hockey side of things.
Fortunately, the work in building the 2009-10 Blackhawks is essentially done. Free agents have been signed, and the team looks primed for another strong run in the season to come. As a fan, that's what matters most to me.