It sounds like Chicago Blackhawks general manager Stan Bowman may have something of a mutiny on his hands.
The Blackhawks stunned many of their fans and pundits alike on Saturday when they made the decision to trade veteran forward Brandon Saad, viewed by many as one of the team's most valuable trading chips, to the Colorado Avalanche in a trade that netted the Blackhawks veteran defenseman Nikita Zadorov, and saved them a little money against the cap as well. It was the latest in a series of moves from general manager Stan Bowman that appear to have left the team in a weaker position than it was before the move was completed, and it has many raising questions about a potential rebuild for the Blackhawks moving forward.
The other big move that sent shockwaves through Chicago, and now we know through the Blackhawks locker room as well, was the decision by Bowman and the organization to move on from veteran goaltender Corey Crawford. Despite being 35 years old Crawford was coming off of a decent season, one that saw him record a 2.77 goals against average and a .917 save percentage over the course of 40 games, all the more impressive when you consider the fact that the Blackhawks defense had its fair share of struggles last season.
That move did not go over well with the team's core group and when speaking with Chicago Blackhawks insider Mark Lazerus over the weekend, Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews confirmed as much.
"It’s sad," said Toews as per Lazerus. "It’s really disappointing. Crow has given so much to this team. I feel he was ready to bring more in the next few years and still be a big part of this group. He had that mindset that he could help this team go deep in the playoffs again, and there’s no doubt that he could."
Although Bowman has been under fire for the decision he has made, you also have to realize that, due to the clauses attached to some of the Blackhawks biggest contracts, his hands are largely tied. One need look no further than this trade involving Brandon Saad, who had a 10 team trade list and could very well have limited Bowman's ability to get the best deal. Despite managing to move out Saad the Blackhawks are still very much in the same predicament given the deals they still have on the books.
Both Kane and Toews have full no-movement clauses, and both men count for a whopping $10.5 million against the cap, each. Those contracts both have 3 years remaining on them, as does the contract of defenseman Duncan Keith who counts for $5.53 million against the cap and also has a full no movement clause. Perhaps the most infamous deal of this nature however is the one belonging to defenseman Brent Seabrook, a deal with 4 more years on it at a cap hit of $6.875 million per season for a defenseman that is a shadow of his former self and who has a full no movement clause for the next 2 years, and a modified no trade in the final 2 years of the deal.
In fact there may be a method to Bowman's madness here. Although Lazerus himself admitted it was perhaps a little melodramatic, he has been informed by a source close to that core group that there is a sense Bowman may be trying to force their hand, to make things so uncomfortable for them in Chicago that they will want out, allowing the team to truly pave the way towards a rebuild.
One thing is certain however, according to a source the core group has had enough of the recent decisions from the Blackhawks organization.
"They’re pissed," said the source as per Lazerus. "The core guys have had enough."