The Dale Tallon Firing
I can say this, there is no such thing as a hockey off-season anymore. I mean, we are into the middle of July and there have been about two slow hockey news days total since 2009 began. So, I can’t say I was shocked to hear late last night that Dale Tallon had been fired by the Chicago Blackhawks.
Clearly Tallon’s mistake concerning qualifying offers to a set of players on his team (which included Cam Barker and Kris Versteeg) was the straw that broke the camel’s back. One of the reasons I was not surprised by the news was because rumblings have been going on for a while (I believe Al Strachan started rumblings of possible discord in the Hawks front office on the Hot Stove late in the year) that Tallon may have been on thin ice.
Now, I have to readily admit that I’ve been puzzled by many of Tallon’s moves. While he made some great additions to the team’s young core, his attempt to augment the team’s young talent with a number of veteran players was not very successful. The contracts given to Brian Campbell and Cristobal Huet have come back to bite the Hawks, never mind the funds needed to sign Cam Barker, Kris Versteeg, et. al, after the team’s qualifying disaster; and I didn’t even mention Dustin Byfuglien.
But while Tallon can be criticized for some moves, he did turn this team around. He drafted Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane, (even though they were high draft picks, he still selected them), traded litte to acquire the highly underrated Patrick Sharp, and re-signed Martin Havlat to a contract extension when things in Chicago weren’t exactly rosey.
My biggest question at the end of the day is: Why on earth did the Blackhawks organization make this move now?
People will respond to that by referring to the Barker and Versteeg contracts, however, that is not the issue in my opinion. Instead, the issue really centers around Tallon being on such thin ice that his mistake resulted in his firing. Clearly people within the Blackhawks management structure did not think Tallon was doing a great job because this mistake, while significant, does not seem to be the only reason he was fired.
So, if that is the case, then why not fire Dale Tallon prior to free agency? To me, it seems odd that the organization would let the GM sign a player, Marian Hossa, to a twelve-year deal when they are hardly confident in his managing ability. Additionally, the re-signings of Versteeg, Barker, et al, eat up a lot of cap room. For a team that is going to have serious cap troubles next season, it makes little sense why you’d let the person who made the mistake, rectify it at his own volition.
All in all, I understand the Hawks firing Dale Tallon. Each franchise has a vision, and clearly Tallon’s was not the same as what the Blackhawks had in mind. However, if the team was this unhappy with Tallon, you have to wonder what took the Blackhawks so long to make this move?