The NHL is in the midst of a search for its next head coach, and while it’s been known for months that there was no immediate interest in Chicago Blackhawks general manager Stan Bowman, that’s all changed this week.
In the wake of the trade of former head coach Joel Quenneville, which led to Bowman leaving for the Edmonton Oilers, NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman made it clear to the league that Bowman’s presence is not a given and that the team needed to take a “serious look” at the future of the organization.
Bettman was asked by reporters Wednesday whether the NHL could possibly consider hiring a coach from outside the organization at the moment, and he didn’t hesitate to state the obvious.
“We need to make sure that we have a good head coach.
We don’t need to hire someone from outside,” Bettman said.
“You need to have someone who can be in a position to help us get back to where we need to be.”
Bettmans comments, which came on the same day the league announced that the Chicago Blackhawks had agreed to terms on a three-year contract with John Hynes that will keep the team in Chicago through the 2022-23 season.
In addition to Bowman, Hynes will be responsible for the goaltending situation.
The hiring of Hynes has been one of the key sticking points in the search for a new head coach in recent years, and the fact that the Blackhawks are going to be paying him a significant amount of money while Bowman is gone is one of many reasons why the search is moving forward.
But Bettman was adamant that the organization would not do anything to interfere in the process, even if it meant paying Hynes to stay.
“The Blackhawks have made a commitment to Hynes, they’ve made a promise to him, and we respect his decisions,” Bettmans statement read.
“They are going forward in the right direction and we want to do everything we can to help him and the Blackhawks get to where they need to go.”
In addition to hiring a new coach, the NHL also has to determine what to do about the pending salary cap, and Bettman says the league has already started the process of determining exactly what it will do about that.
“It’s an open question,” Bettmann said.
“[There’s] a lot of discussion going on around the cap, the way the salary cap is set up, how to do it, and I’m not going to prejudge those conversations, but I can tell you that this is the direction we are going.
We are going as fast as we can, but we have to go through the process and get to a conclusion as quickly as we possibly can.”
As of Wednesday afternoon, the cap hit for the 2018-19 season was set at $68 million, and there are still a number of unknowns regarding what the salary caps will look like next season, as well as what the cap will look at if there’s a lockout, as the NHL is set to begin next season on July 1.
If the cap holds at $72 million, it will be the highest salary cap in the NHL history, and as such, it’s expected that there will be some sort of lockout.
Brett Connolly, a hockey analyst and member of the National Hockey League Network, says Bettman’s comments are a clear indication that the NHL has made the right decision.
“If you are going after the best coaches, the ones who can help you get to the next level, and who are willing to take the job, the job is going to come with a salary,” Connolly told Bleacher Report.
“It’s a tough situation.
The Blackhawks are the most important franchise in the league right now, but they need help.”
The Blackhawks will enter the NHL’s 2023-24 season as the defending Stanley Cup champions, which is why they will need to start taking a more active role in the salary-cap discussions as soon as next season.