RE­MOD­EL­ING THE OF­FICE

Hawks have moved some key folks around to in­vite fresh ideas, strengthen scout­ing

Chicago Sun-Times - - SPORTS - BLACK­HAWKS BEAT bpope@sun­times.com | @BenPopeCST

The Black­hawks qui­etly shuf­fled the job ti­tles of sev­eral front-of­fice em­ploy­ees dur­ing the coro­n­avirus pan­demic, not long af­ter fir­ing pres­i­dent John McDonough and ef­fec­tively end­ing the pre­vi­ous era of the fran­chise.

The mo­ti­va­tion be­hind the shuf­fling was twofold, gen­eral man­ager Stan Bow­man said Mon­day — first, to give greater weight and in­flu­ence to some younger voices, and sec­ond, to put more re­sources to­ward find­ing cheap, young play­ers who can help the Hawks sur­vive their im­pend­ing salarycap crunch.

“We took this as an op­por­tu­nity, with the pause in the sea­son, to look at where we were as an or­ga­ni­za­tion and where the league was head­ing and how we were go­ing to be bet­ter po­si­tioned to be suc­cess­ful in the fu­ture,” Bow­man said.

The Hawks pro­moted Mark Ea­ton, Ryan Ste­wart and Kyle David­son to as­sis­tant gen­eral man­agers — in player de­vel­op­ment, pro scout­ing and hockey ad­min­is­tra­tion, re­spec­tively.

They also pro­moted Mike Doneghey from head USA scout to di­rec­tor of player eval­u­a­tion and re­cruit­ment and filled Doneghey’s old role by pro­mot­ing one of their ama­teur scouts, Rob Facca.

Mean­while, Norm Maciver — a 13-year vet­eran of the front of­fice — was tech­ni­cally de­moted from as­sis­tant gen­eral man­ager to vice pres­i­dent of player per­son­nel.

“Look­ing at our makeup, we had a lot of younger peo­ple that were ready for big­ger roles,” Bow­man said. “When I say that, I’m talk­ing about Ryan Ste­wart, Mark Ea­ton and Kyle David­son. The three of those guys were re­ally blos­som­ing in their cur­rent roles and ready to do more.”

Ea­ton, 43, has adopted an es­pe­cially large pub­lic role. The re­tired NHL de­fense­man has worked closely in re­cent years with Adam Bo­qvist, Ian Mitchell, Ni­co­las Beaudin and other de­fense­men to aid their de­vel­op­ment in ju­nior and col­lege hockey.

Ste­wart, 46, was a Hawks video and as­sis­tant coach from 2006 to 2008 be­fore shift­ing into scout­ing.

David­son, 32, started as a Rock­ford IceHogs in­tern and spent the last nine years deal­ing with the salary cap and player con­tracts.

Af­ter many years of con­stancy in the front of­fice, Danny Wirtz’s move into the in­terim pres­i­dent role has brought a more busi­nesslike ap­proach to run­ning the Hawks. Ea­ton, Ste­wart and David­son are ex­pected to sim­i­larly al­ter the dy­namic.

Maciver’s “de­mo­tion” is the most cu­ri­ous change.

“If you look around the league, it’s not a sur­prise to see that most teams have two — some teams have three — as­sis­tant GMs be­cause those re­spon­si­bil­i­ties in to­day’s game are ex­pand­ing,” Bow­man said. “We found that we put a lot on Norm’s plate.”

Now, the as­sis­tant GM du­ties will be split up more evenly among Ea­ton, Ste­wart and David­son. Maciver will in­stead lead a newly formed group of scouts, in­clud­ing Doneghey.

“[With] Norm’s back­ground as an as­sis­tant coach in Bos­ton ... he’s re­ally good at iden­ti­fy­ing play­ers,” Bow­man said. “We wanted to try to give him an op­por­tu­nity

to do more of that. He’s go­ing to have a num­ber of peo­ple who re­port to him, and he’s re­spon­si­ble for guid­ing that whole group.”

The Hawks hope the new Maciver-led team will be able to find young and/or over­looked play­ers with NHL-cal­iber ta­lent. Most play­ers fit­ting that bill will be in the Euro­pean leagues — where the Hawks his­tor­i­cally have had great luck find­ing di­a­monds, from Artemi Pa­narin to David Kampf to Dominik Kuba­lik — as well as in col­lege hockey.

These new finds will be­come es­pe­cially valu­able in the com­ing years be­cause they’ll be avail­able on cheap en­try-level con­tracts, which the Hawks can stuff in around their ex­pen­sive, ag­ing core in or­der to stay com­pli­ant with a stag­nant NHL salary cap.

Once ex­pected to rise to $84 mil­lion to $88 mil­lion, the cap will in­stead stay at $81.5 mil­lion next sea­son, the league an­nounced last week.

“That’s re­ally the key if you want to have suc­cess in a sys­tem where the cap’s not grow­ing — you need to have those young play­ers,” Bow­man said. “It pro­vides the op­por­tu­nity to re­main com­pet­i­tive. You’re go­ing to rely on those guys, give them big­ger roles, more op­por­tu­nity.”

BRUCE BENNETT/GETTY IMAGES (ABOVE), JONATHAN DANIEL/GETTY IMAGES

Mark Ea­ton (above, in 2013) is now the Hawks’ as­sis­tant gen­eral man­ager for player de­vel­op­ment af­ter his work with Ni­co­las Beaudin (be­low, left), Adam Bo­qvist and other young prospects.

Stan Bow­man

BRUCE BENNETT/GETTY IMAGES

Norm Maciver (hoist­ing the Stan­ley Cup in 2013) will lead an ef­fort to scout hid­den gems who can help the Hawks with their salary-cap pain.

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