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Tallon 'comfortable' with new role with Blackhawks

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The Canadian Press
7/15/2009 5:59:34 PM
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CHICAGO -- A day after being demoted from general manager to an adviser, Dale Tallon said he still wants to help the Chicago Blackhawks win the Stanley Cup and that the franchise remains in his blood.

"I am comfortable with the position I'm in right now," Tallon said Wednesday on a conference call. "I'm still working for the Chicago Blackhawks, a franchise that's deep in my own blood. I'm passionate about the Blackhawks.

"To have an opportunity to help this team win a Stanley Cup, I feel very fortunate."

The Blackhawks felt a change was needed even though they just reached the playoffs for the first time in seven years, advancing to the Western Conference finals. Missing a deadline to file qualifying offers to restricted free agents last week might have sealed Tallon's fate.

On Tuesday, the Blackhawks moved him from general manager to senior adviser of hockey operations. Now, Stan Bowman, coach Scotty Bowman's son, is the GM.

"We both agreed that this was best for the franchise," Tallon said, referring to team president John McDonough. "We had a cordial discussion, and he wanted to take the team in a different direction. And I was fine with it.

"Although my position has changed, my goal has not. All I want to do is help them win the Stanley Cup."

Tallon said Bowman is "more than qualified" for the job.

As for McDonough?

"It's a very good relationship," Tallon said. "We're open and honest. We're both different. We have different styles, but the whole organization has different people and different styles. We all want to achieve the same goal. We both are open and honest with our opinions."

Asked if he thinks he'll be a general manager again, Tallon laughed and said, "Right now, I'm focusing on winning a Stanley Cup for the Chicago Blackhawks. If we all have success, then who knows what will happen."

The Blackhawks went from a struggling franchise when Tallon took over in June 2005 to a contender last season behind young, talented players, but there were some odd twists the past few weeks.

The foul-up involving the paperwork for the restricted free agents prompted the NHL Players Association to file a grievance, saying the team didn't make the qualifying offers in time.

Although McDonough said at a news conference Tuesday that he took responsibility, he also said "probably not" when asked if Tallon would have been ousted if not for that.

Tallon, who got a two-year extension to remain as an adviser, again pointed the finger at himself for the foul-up.

"We filed the paperwork later than we normally do," he said. "We should have filed it sooner, as we have in the past. And an issue came up because of the lateness of the mail-in.

"We were able to fulfill our obligations and sign all the players that we qualified. We were satisfied with what we did. I'll take full responsibility for the lateness of it."

Tallon has denied that the Blackhawks had to overpay players as a result, including Kris Versteeg, their top rookie last season, although team owner Rocky Wirtz said during Tuesday's news conference it did cost them "on the front end, "but we'd be paying this money eventually."

Wirtz also indicated age was a factor in the shakeup, pointing out that Bowman is 36 and Tallon 58 while saying: "We always want younger people."

Tallon said that comment didn't bother him.

"I have a very young mind, I'm very agile, I'm very fit and I love the Wirtz family," he said. "They've been great to me. I've still got some fight in me. That's a decision that I'm comfortable with and I have no problem with it."

Tallon has spent more than 30 years in the organization, including five as a player and 10 in the front office. He drafted young stars Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews as general manager and made some key trades and free-agent acquisitions.

Even as the Blackhawks rose, there were also reports of friction between Tallon and other members of the hierarchy.

McDonough said there were some communication issues, and Tallon acknowledged them.

"There was no intent, but sometimes, it just happens," he said. "When you're travelling a lot, on the road a lot, you've got a lot of things on your plate. Sometimes, things slip through the cracks, but there was never any intent."

In another front office move, the Blackhawks promoted Marc Bergevin to director of player personnel. He served as an assistant coach last season.

Dale Tallon (Photo: David Banks/Getty Images)

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(Photo: David Banks/Getty Images)
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