DREGER: WHAT LED TO CHICAGO'S FRONT OFFICE SHUFFLE?
Sentiment - bordering on outrage - best describes how many NHL people responded to the news of Dale Tallon's dismissal as general manager of the Chicago Blackhawks.
However, anyone shocked by this move by team president John McDonough didn't pay attention to the constant speculation of Tallon's demise at varying points of the season.
Some close to the organization believe McDonough was looking for an opportunity to make his move which was made very difficult by Chicago's trip to the western conference final and a season most around the league would consider a great success.
There's no question the Blackhawks' recent fumble with qualifying offers (that weren't filed on time for the team's restricted free agents) was an enormous unforced error and while it has been suggested Tallon wasn't responsible for the blunder, as GM he took responsibility.
Was this mistake - as costly as it turned out to be - really his undoing?
What we know is there is a groundswell of sympathy for Tallon, who, upon learning his fate, was also handed a two-year contract to act as an advisor at the same rate of pay he was earning as Chicago's general manager.
This groundswell also extends to former Blackhawks forward Martin Havlat, who - through the direct link of Twitter - continues to tease Hawks fans with suggestive tweets that indicate Dale Tallon's firing was very predictable. "Tip of the iceberg," Havlat wrote in one tweet. In another, he asked, "shouldn't fans know the truth?"
Shortly after that, Havlat's Twitter account crashed because of an overload of responses.
Yes, Chicago Blackhawks fans want to know the truth.
They want to know what Havlat believes led to Tallon's firing.
Hawks fans want to understand how a negotiation that lasted better than three months, focused on keeping Havlat a Hawk long term and involved his agent Allan Walsh, Tallon and now Chicago's newest GM, Stan Bowman, mysteriously eroded.
Aside from reaching out via Twitter, Havlat has been silent and wants to move on and focus on his new home and opportunity with the Minnesota Wild. However, Havlat also wants to clear the air and set the record straight and has offered his thoughts exclusively to TSN.ca on a number of issues he observed while in Chicago, starting with his failed negotiation.
"My negotiation with Chicago was not between Dale and my agent, it was between Dale and McDonough," Havlat said "Why? Because McDonough couldn't stand that Dale was so successful and getting the credit for building the Hawks from a last place team to making the Conference Final in three short years. Remember, we were also the youngest team in the NHL last year."
"I was too closely identified with Dale," he continued. "McDonough knew long ago he was going to fire Dale. He wanted someone he could claim as his own He wanted to stand up at the convention and claim credit for signing this guy or that guy."
Havlat's candor won't be easily accepted by the Blackhawks, and there may be claims of this being nothing more than the backlash of a jilted player, but Havlat's appreciation for Dale Tallon is what drove him to speak up mere hours after Tallon's firing was confirmed.
"Dale and I were very close and I stand for loyalty. The players loved Dale and they are with him. Every single player on that team is with Dale. I still talk to the guys all the time, hockey players know a phony when they see one."
"I was part of a very special team but that team doesn't exist anymore. I am really disappointed that Rocky Wirtz would let something like this happen," Havlat told TSN.ca.
Havlat's parting request follows up on a tweet sent on Tuesday. A challenge for the Blackhawks faithful who may share his views on Chicago's future.
"It's up to the fans now to be heard on this. If you care about the direction of the team, do something about it," Havlat concluded.
That's powerful stuff from a player who loved Chicago, loved the Blackhawks organization, and clearly has a deep connection with Dale Tallon, now the former general manager.