Chicago Blackhawks president John McDonough appeared this morning on the The Score 670 in Chicago, addressing lingering issues from the team's controversial decision to reassign GM Dale Tallon and promote assistant GM Stan Bowman to the role.
Oh, and the fact that he's got a former player calling him a jealous phony in the Canadian media.
The full interview with Matt Spiegel and Barry Rozner can be heard online, and we encourage you to take a listen for the full context of McDonough's responses. But here are a few of the highlights in an interview that asked some essential questions but ultimately featured more softballs than a company picnic:
• Had to stifle a laugh when Rozner applauded McDonough for being "incredibly kind" to Dale Tallon, after giving him a raise and a new position in the organization. How, exactly, can anyone in Chicago not be familiar with the concept of hush money?
• On whether he's worried about player loyalty to Tallon being a problem in the locker room, McDonough said he doesn't see it "at all" and that Tallon will be around the United Center this season.
• The hosts addressed the restricted free agent/qualifying offer snafu that provided perhaps the tipping point (or the excuse, depending on what you believe) for Tallon's dismissal. In particular, they spoke about the accusation from Kevin Paul Dupont in the Boston Globe from Sunday that said McDonough "had a hand in delaying the mailing of the offers."
McDonough offered a cynical denial:
Earlier, McDonough said that the RFA issue wasn't at the core of the Tallon reassignment.
"Barry, I hid the stamps. (Laughter) When you dignify something like that, it's really embarrassing. Here is somebody, a writer for the Boston Globe ... really, that is so fictitious that you couldn't even make that up. It's really kind of frightening that thought process is out there."
"It wasn't just about this. It was something I had been contemplating for a while. What I had said earlier is that we have an obligation to do the best we can for our organization, and we're going to continue to do that going forward. But as far as the clerical error is concerned, that's an organizational mistake. Ultimately, I'm responsible for what goes on in the organization, so ultimately I'll take that responsibility. When you hear things from the Boston Globe ... sometimes you hear these things and they're beyond humorous.
• In response to Martin Havlat's broadside on TSN, McDonough was all over the place. He started by saying the usual "big fan/classy guy" stuff that anyone says when they're publically humiliated by a former comrade. He then declared that he has "never talked to Marty Havlat or his agent about a contract extension. I empower people to make those decisions. For anyone to intimate or infer that I, a civilian, would be making decisions on Marian Hossa(notes) over Marty Havlat, it's preposterous."
He added that signing the Detroit Red Wings winger to a long-term deal was a "hockey operations decision."
Two things: First, Havlat never claimed that McDonough negotiated with him or his agent; he claimed that McDonough and Tallon had their own private negotiation about Havlat's future.
But more importantly: McDonough's now on the record that the Hossa signing wasn't his decision. So take that for what it's worth.
• He's also on the record about the signings of Brian Campbell(notes) and Cristobal Huet(notes). Listen to the interview for the full answer, but essentially McDonough defended the signings as use of Rocky Wirtz's "resources" as an owner, and reiterated that hockey operations made the decisions on both controversial signings -- not him.
• Stan Bowman's promotion was dealt with in a superficial way, with McDonough claiming that fixing the cap is Bowman's "area of expertise" and that, much like the Cylons on "Battlestar Galactica," Bowman has "a plan."
• McDonough put over Bowman as having earned the job and understands everything from drafting to finances. But when asked if Stan Bowman was better qualified for the job, McDonough said, "Time will tell on all of those things. But the accountability for hiring a general manager is certainly on me and I expect Stan to achieve great things."
Overall, the case for Bowman over Tallon (at least publically) still appears to be "time will tell if he's better"; which normally would be cause for much outcry and outrage from the fans, until one thinks back to the last epically unpopular decision McDonough helped make involving a beloved figure in Chicago.
Hint: He finished seventh for the Jack Adams and coached in the Western Conference finals last season.