LAS VEGAS -- Blackhawks general manger Stan Bowman shed some light on the circumstances that led to the recent release of goalie prospect Alexander Salak from his contract.
1. The emergence of Carter Hutton, who had a strong season with the Rockford IceHogs, dropped Salak's status on the depth chart behind Corey Crawford and Ray Emery.
2. Salak, 25, didn't want to play another season in Rockford. It was the NHL or heading back Europe.
"Salak is not with us anymore," Bowman said during a conference call with reporters on Tuesday. "Basically we placed him on conditional waivers. and he's not a part of the organization. When he came over a year ago he was very hopeful of making the NHL and he was close between him and Emery. He just had an up-and-down year, he got injured and that provided the ability for Carter Hutton to come up.
"[Hutton] really surprised all of us with how well he played. He gave the Rockford team a chance to make a strong push in the second half and almost make the playoffs after they had really struggled earlier. It was good to see that and how the players responded to him and played well in front of him.
"I think [Salak] looked at the situation and thought he was likely going to be in a similar position as he was at the end of the year. I think he didn't want that and he made it clear his objective was not to play in the American [Hockey] League next year so at that point we were ready to move on."
In other words, there was a mutual termination of Salak's contract. He initially signed a two-year deal with the Hawks last summer after being acquired in the Michael Frolik deal with the Florida Panthers in February 2011. Salak had a 6-10-2 record and a 2.69 goals-against average in 21 games with Rockford last season.
Bowman always said he was high on Salak. He even said before last season that he was comfortable if Crawford and Salak were his two goalies. But Emery was invited to training camp and won the backup spot.
"Those things happen sometimes and I've found players have to have their heart in it for those things to work," Bowman said. "I think he wasn't real excited about the prospect of spending another year the way he did last year and just indicated that he wanted to go back to Europe."