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‘Hawks GM: Goaltending was “not our strength this year”

Apr 25, 2012, 3:24 PM EDT

Corey Crawford Getty Images

Stan Bowman admitted the obvious today when the Blackhawks’ general manager met with reporters to discuss his team’s second straight first-round elimination.

“Our goaltending in general was not our strength this year,” Bowman said, as reported by the Chicago Tribune. “I don’t think it’s fair to lay the blame on [Corey Crawford]. You win as a team and you lose as a team. We need to be stronger defensively and that includes our team commitment to defense, not simply the goaltender and not simply the defensemen. It’s really a team concept.

“Individually, [Crawford] has to be better. He would agree on that. As a team we have to make a stronger commitment to playing fundamentally sound hockey without giving up on the offensive side.”

What Bowman plans to do about the goaltending is the big question. The Blackhawks have Crawford under contract through 2013-14 and they just re-signed backup Ray Emery for next season.

That said, both goalies account for less than $4 million in cap space, so there’s flexibility to make moves. Hey, we hear Roberto Luongo is available, and wouldn’t that be something. (Yeah, that’s not happening.)

Some other topics Bowman addressed:

—- Unlike Eddie Olczyk, he’s fine with Patrick Kane playing second-line center and doesn’t understand why there’s been so much talk about the position. “Not only did our team play well when he was in the middle, he played well.”

—- The power play (26th, 15.2%) has to get a lot better. “The results speak for themselves. A huge disappointment this year. The power play was unacceptable to have the caliber of players we do and not have it work.”

—- In a possibly related story, Bowman denied his relationship with coach Joel Quenneville was strained: “Obviously there was a challenge when we had the long losing streak — if anything we came together as a unit.” Bowman didn’t say this, but assuming Quenneville sticks around,  it’s extremely possible the guy in charge of the power play, assistant coach Mike Kitchen, won’t.

—- The Blackhawks haven’t decided which unrestricted free agents they’re going to bring back. All Bowman would say is, “We’re not going to bring everybody back.” Pending UFAs include Andrew Brunette, Brendon Morrison, Jamal Mayers and Johnny Oduya, the latter of which Bowman is “very interested in continuing to talk to his group about where he fits in with our team next year.”

  1. 1943mrmojorisin1971 - Apr 25, 2012 at 5:10 PM

    If that OT goal in Game 4 is any indication then I’d say it’s fair to lay some blame on Crawford.

    • chiadam - Apr 25, 2012 at 5:18 PM

      The curling play? Yes, I would say so. When the skaters are moving as fast as the puck and it still goes in, that’s not good.

      • 1943mrmojorisin1971 - Apr 25, 2012 at 5:43 PM

        Yeah, when the guy doesn’t actually shoot the puck you should probably stop it.

  2. chiadam - Apr 25, 2012 at 5:16 PM

    This is me not being surprised that Bowman is “very interested” in Oduya. If you’re a flea-sized defenseman than can skate, welcome to the Blackhawks. Sign on the dotted line, please.

  3. kcprof926 - Apr 25, 2012 at 6:03 PM

    Bowman got a contract extension but really has not accomplished anything. He is living in Dale Tallon’s shadow and that shadow is proving to be pretty large. Needs to make the right moves this year.

  4. esracerx46 - Apr 25, 2012 at 8:14 PM

    “defense is an issue” ….insert Ryan Suter. 2nd line center was an issue….Trade 1 or 2 of your plethora prospects and your mid first round pick to move just inside the top 10 if Galchenyuk slides. As far as goaltending If you could pry Bernier, Lehner, or possibly Lindback away….All are younger and have a real beating heart…oh yeah and their not bad netminders either

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