Daily Herald
Why doesn't Tallon get more credit?
By Mike Imrem | Daily Herald Columnist
Published: 5/18/2009 5:20 PM

Blackhawks general manager Dale Tallon has been an issue during hard times and good times.

Today is a bit of both considering the Hawks have had a rousing season but are down 1-0 in their best-of-seven Western Conference finals against the Red Wings.

Monday morning Mike Mulligan and Zach Zaidman interviewed Rocky Wirtz on WSCR-AM. The Hawks chairman did little to quiet rumors, speculation and doubts about Tallon's future.

First Wirtz sort of danced around the subject with remarks like "Dale is going to be just fine" and "Let's just get through Detroit and worry about it (later)."

Then speaking of assistant general manager Stan Bowman, Wirtz used the term "nitty-gritty" and added, "He is the braintrust behind Dale on this one."

In other words, restrained reviews for Tallon and rave reviews for Bowman.

Maybe I didn't hear Wirtz correctly. Maybe I misinterpreted what he meant to say. Maybe he isn't media savvy enough yet to express himself clearly enough for a dunderhead like me to understand.

There always is the possibility that Wirtz was posturing in advance of negotiations on Tallon's next contract.

But it sure was curious that Wirtz was subdued in his praise of the GM who built a team that appears poised to be Chicago's sports franchise of the future.

What's not to appreciate about Tallon's job performance? He did assemble this group of players that conducts itself admirably on and off the ice, didn't he?

Not that the Hawks' arrow spiked unwaveringly up during Tallon's tenure. In a way, the Hawks were revived through trial and error, hit and miss, a step backward and two forward.

But considering where the Hawks are right now and where they appear headed, Tallon should receive considerable credit, a gushing vote of confidence, and a lucrative contract extension.

So, reading into Wirtz' interview on the Score, it's reasonable to wonder whether something is bubbling below the ice at the United Center.

One notion could be that Wirtz and club president John McDonough are following White Sox/Bulls Chairman Jerry Reinsdorf's handbook. You know, that certain manager types can take a team from Point A to Point B but can't get them to Point C.

Maybe for some reason that's what Wirtz and McDonough think of Tallon.

Complicating matters is that Hawks assistant GM Stan Bowman's father, hockey legend Scotty Bowman, serves as muse to Hawks ownership and upper management.

One prevailing inkling is that Scotty Bowman was the force behind replacing Denis Savard with Joel Quenneville as coach early this season.

Is Tallon next on Bowman's hit list, with his son the next general manager?

Anyway, justifiably or not, Tallon has been the one person in the Hawks' organization not deified by fans and the media for his contributions.

Wirtz is a godsend for reversing his late father's archaic policies. McDonough is for marketing the Hawks back into the public consciousness. Quenneville is for guiding the team deep into the playoffs.

In that context, seems odd that the best said of the man who built the on-ice product is "Dale is going to be just fine."