Dale Tallon is an interesting case. For two years he was credited with turning the Chicago Blackhawks' fortunes around and guiding them back to prominence. He paraded around in front of adoring fans and media with owner Rocky Wirtz, the bag man behind the rise of the Phoenix and yin to Tallon's yang. Gone to the heavens was the tight-fisted Bill Wirtz, the long-time owner of the Blackhawks, the man that kept the Hawks in the basement and off of the air. Wirtz the younger had no such problems with free television and had no limitations on his checkbook. The two of them were credited were bringing about a culture change, instilling a family atmosphere, turning the team into a brotherhood, building the team from the ground up and sprinkling in key free agents when necessary.
Everything was going along swimmingly until the summer of 2009 when Tallon made what he and Blackhawks management deemed a "clerical error" and forgot to send qualifying offers to Kris Versteeg and Cam Barker, missing the deadline that would have kept them restricted free agents.
Blackhawks GM Dale Tallon admitted Wednesday the team made a mistake getting qualifying contract offers to his restricted free agents on time but claimed the goof did not force them to overpay for Kris Versteeg and Cam Barker.
That was enough for the Bowman Cabal to move in and install Stan the Younger as GM, sending Tallon into an advisory position somewhere a basement room nearest the boiler. The Junta had been a resounding success.
But was Tallon's performance so far above the norm that all of Chicago should have kissed his ring? Let's review Tallon's key moves in his time as General Manager of the Blackhawks:
Free Agent Signings:
Adrian Aucoin - August 2nd, 2005 - Four years $16 million
Martin Lapointe - August 4th, 2005 - Three years $7.2 million
Nikolai Khabibulin - August 5th 2005 - Four years $27 million
Brian Campbell - July 1st, 2008 - Eight years $56.8 million
Cristobal Huet - July 1st, 2008 - Four years $22.5 million
Marian Hossa - July 2nd, 2009 - Twelve years $62.8 million
In the one area where a General Manager has the most direct impact, Tallon failed miserably. Over four years, he he made six "key" signings, and inked six massive overpays. The immovable Campbell contract continues to hang over the franchise and will likely see someone like Kris Versteeg or Patrick Sharp shipped out.
1st Round Draft Picks:
2005 - 7th overall RW Jack Skille - ranked 11th among NA skaters
2006 - 3rd overall C Jonathan Toews - ranked 3rd among NA skaters
2007 - won lottery from 5th - LW Patrick Kane - ranked 2nd among NA skaters
2008 - 11th overall - Kyle Beach - ranked 7th among NA skaters
The draft is the area of hockey operations where a General Manager has the least amount of influence. The scouting department is responsible for the draft and the General Manager may veer from their recommendation, but typically the scouts shoulder the outcome of a draft. The Blackhawks went off of the board for Skille, then went back to Central Scouting's list for Toews, flipped a coin for Kane after hitting the lottery, literally, and got a supposed bargain in Beach. There's nothing really to complain about or laud here.
December 5, 2005: Sent Matt Ellison and Eric Meloche to the Philadelphia Flyers for Patrick Sharp.
July 10, 2006: Swapped Tom Preissing, John Hennessy, Michal Barinka and a second-round pick with Ottawa for Martin Havlat and Bryan Smolinski.
February 3, 2007: Traded Brandon Bochenski to the Boston Bruins for Kris Versteeg.
As bad as Tallon was in Unrestricted Free Agency, he flipped the compass when it came to trades. All three "key" trades were major checks in the win column for Tallon and all three players were key to the conference finals run.
Tallon's run as General Manager of the Blackhawks can be summed up as mediocre. Terrible work in free agency, standard selections in the draft and outstanding work in the trade market gets him a solid "C". All in all, Dale Tallon wasn't better than Kevin Lowe over the same time period, he just had the benefit of a pair of top-three picks.