Here are some of the highlights of Blackhawks general manager Stan Bowman's press conference Wednesday during clean-out day at the United Center:
On the season overall:
"When you don't reach your goal, which is to win the Stanley Cup, it's a big disappointment. I can speak for myself as well as the organization that we set out every year to win the Stanley Cup and we didn't do that this year. So, it's a disappointment clearly.
"I think you have to look at the whole season, not just the ending. Ultimately that's what we're focused on right now, because it's so fresh in our minds and we didn't reach our goal, but we did have a lot of good things that happened this year as well. Obviously, getting 100 points in a very tough division, we saw some young players emerge and I think the future's very bright for our organization.
On what he needs to do to improve his team:
"We're still in the assessment phase. Up until two days ago you're so focused on that next game and now that we're not playing anymore is when the time starts to look at what we need to improve upon. We have our meetings scheduled with each player and we get to talk to them about their season and ways they can be better and ways as a team we can be better. We'll review it with our coaches, as well and find out what aspects of that can we improve upon. Then we look at the personnel and talk to hockey ops staff to see if there are young players that are ready to make that next step and maybe push some other guys out of the lineup or if we need to go look either at a trade or the free agent market. That's really how it's going to play out."
On the players he signed to one-year deals:
"I think some of the guys ... we're not going to bring everybody back. We haven't made the determination which of our unrestricted free agents we would try to pursue or let go. That's the process we're going to undergo over the next few weeks here. We saw some good things out of a number of the players we brought in. Carcillo, unfortunately his injury ended his season prematurely, but that was really a positive step when we brought him to our lineup and the things he brought."
On Corey Crawford and the Hawks' goaltending:
"Our goaltending in general was not our strength this year. I don't think it's fair to lay the blame on one player. You win as a team and you lose as a team, and I think we need to be stronger defensively. That includes our team commitment to defense, not simply the goaltender and not simply the defensemen. It's really a team concept and I think if you look back over the season, when we were struggling in our losing streak there, the way we got out of it is we played a strong team game. It kind of coincided that our goaltending improved during that time, as well. Was it the goaltending
that won those games or was it because our whole team was committed to playing the right way? It's probably a combination of that. Individually, he has to be better but I think he would agree on that."
On his relationship with coach Joel Quenneville:
"Our relationship wasn't strained at all. Obviously, there was a challenge when we had the long losing streak, but if anything we came together as a unit. Joel did a great job. It's a testament to his track record as a coach to weather the storm in tough times and like I mentioned, our team came out of that tough stretch and we played great hockey for the last six weeks of the year. It was a case where everybody kind of came together as opposed to pull apart. We have great comminucation back and forth. We see things very similarly in terms of areas that need improvement. So, from that perspective I think there's a lot of synergy between the two of us."
On Marian Hossa's status:
"We've had a lot of similar-type injuries with players in the past and it's too hard to predict a recovery time on these things. There's no reason to think he's any different than any other player that has that type of injury. I'm very optimistic that he's going to be back, certainly, we're here in April and training camp doesn't open until September. That's a lot of time to be rested and prepared and training in the off-season, so we don't approach that any differently than a different injury."
On Johnny Oduya and the possibility of signing a bigger defenseman:
"Johnny played great for us down the stretch. He came in at a time when the team needed some experience and some veteran presence and also somebody who could eat up some minutes. He was an important part of that stretch run, so we're very interested in continuing to talk to his group about where he fits in with our team next year. Beyond that, we're open to anything. I know that sounds general, but we do an assessment of how can we get better as a group.
"We don't want to be sitting here not playing beyond the first round of the playoffs next year, and if that entails bringing in different types of players we're open to that. I think the strength of our team is we do have talented forwards. They do like to play with the puck as opposed to chasing the puck down and Johnny Oduya complemented that. If you throw in Nick Leddy, Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook, we've got really four defensemen there that that's really a strength of their game. So, if we were able to fin another player that had some size but could also complement those players, that would be somebody we would be very interested in, as well. You've got to play to your strengths,
which is we've got a lot of talented offensive players and surrounding them with players that make them better is something that we're focused on."
On the power play struggles and whether a coaching change is needed:
"The results speak for themselves. They were a huge disappointment this year, the power play was unacceptable to have the caliber of players that we do and to not have it work. Ultimately, we've got to improve that and that's really a question Joel's probably better able to answer. It's more of a coaching thing than anything. There's a lot of different ways to run a power play and to orchestrate it, and for whatever reason ours didn't work. We need to be better in that area. There's no doubt about that.
"It was a season-long struggle for our team and I think more than anything you lose momentum, which is what ultimately the results are what you want ... but more than anything you want to have it be a momentum-generator, as opposed to a momentum killer within a game. And I think too many times this year, we would be so strong play and we would generate power plays because of our strong play and then the momentum would seem to die when the power play would sputter. That's one of the key things we need to be better at next year. There's no doubt about it."
On the possibility of breaking up the core players:
"When you're looking at the guys we're talking about, they're All-Star type players and difference-makers in the organization and it's really difficult to remove one of those pieces unless you've got somebody you think can fill that person's spot to try and fill a different hole. It doesn't make a lot of sense to just trade one of those and get the same part back, because we know these players and we've won with these players. They've got a lot of character. They've got a lot of ability. They're young. They're proven winners. That's something that is very valuable."