Now We'll See Who Kyle Davidson Really Is As The Blackhawks' General Manager

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Now We’ll See Who Kyle Davidson Really Is As The Blackhawks’ General Manager

Chicago Blackhawks

Over the past few months, we’ve been slowly piecing together what type of general manager Kyle Davidson hopes to be in Chicago.

He has given us small, bite-size pieces of information along the way to give us an idea of his plan for the rebuild of the organization (like his trade efforts at the deadline or how he’s built the inner circle of his front office), but words and actions need to align for the new front office to succeed. And he just hasn’t had many opportunities to do so (yet).

Fortunately, in speaking with the media, Davidson has dropped more hints about his goals as the general manager of the Chicago Blackhawks.

What we’ve learned so far

Back in early May, Davidson gave us a few nuggets about his plan. He told us he doesn’t want to take on “bad contracts” just to get an asset. He also said he wants the Blackhawks to play a more up-tempo game and will start tweaking the roster to make that a reality. But he isn’t going to throw money around and tie up cap space; he views cap flexibility as a luxury the organization hasn’t had in years.

Davidson has consistently preached patience with his prospects, and detailed that philosophy in May.

“[Prospects are] gonna learn what they need to do to get to the NHL and stay in the NHL and it’s not a race to the NHL for any of our prospects, it’s more of that journey of getting to the point that when you do get recalled we can’t send you back. That takes time, that takes development and that takes commitment but it takes commitment from our side working with them to the point that they come up and stay.”

Later in May when he appeared on a podcast on The Daily Faceoff, Davidson doubled down on the importance of properly developing young players. The renewed importance of Rockford in the immediate future of the organization was seen this year as Davidson allowed players like Ian Mitchell and Lukas Reichel to spend the majority of their seasons in the AHL. In that interview, Davidson was clear about his intentions.

“We’ve already made a couple moves that have given us some good draft capital in this year’s draft and the years moving forward and we’ll look to capitalize on that. We’re also going to explore every avenue to enhance our prospect pool and strengthen that draft capital and bring in potentially some young players. We’re not ruling anything out one way or the other I think it’s really important to stay nimble and stay agile and take what comes and not force anything because once we start forcing things you start making mistakes. We want to be very intentional with what we do in the summer.”

Read that last statement again.

“We want to be very intentional with what we do in the summer.”

Welcome to the summer, folks. We’re in the thick of it now. It’s Draft Day.

Staying in May at the press conference introducing Norm Maciver and Jeff Greenberg, Davidson was directly asked about the draft — a draft in which he didn’t have a first-round pick because his predecessor traded it for Seth Jones. Again, Davidson made a strong statement.

“Being where we’re at in our trajectory, [the first round is] where the talent is at,” Davidson said. “That’s where we need to bring players in at. So [trading up is] definitely something we’ll look at. Whether that’s a possibility is a different question, but it’s something I’m definitely interested in.”

When asked what characteristics they’re looking for in prospects, the first word from both Davidson and Maciver was “speed.” And anyone who watched the playoffs this year knows how critical that will be to being competitive in the NHL moving forward.

When we spoke with Maciver that day, one quote really stood out. The front office he was part of in Seattle was building from the ground up; they literally had a blank slate. But what he said about how they viewed potential additions to their roster and how that will play in Chicago was striking — and important.

“[The] culture and the types of players we wanted to bring in right away to set the foundation in Seattle [were important] so when we brought in the right players you’ve got a structure in place where they’re going to be able to flourish in a way you want them to flourish. That was the whole mindset in Seattle last summer. Make sure we get the right players.

We knew the team was going to struggle to score goals, to win games was going to be challenging, but if we have the right pieces in place so when we do get elite talent, it’s in a real comfortable environment where they can grow and be better and the team can take the next step forward.”

Build the structure with quality players who do it the right way so when the talent arrives it’s easy to play freely. Sounds ideal, right?

If we then fast forward from those conversations in May to the end of June and the press conference introducing Luke Richardson as the team’s new head coach, Davidson reiterated something he spoke about after the trade deadline when there were questions about the trades he didn’t make.

He isn’t going to make trades just for the sake of making them. He isn’t going to sell assets below his perceived value (which was directed specifically at questions about pending UFAs like Calvin de Haan at the deadline) if they can help his club. In late June, Davidson also said he isn’t going to “force” anything for the sake of making headlines or generating buzz.

What we have built so far is a package that indicates Davidson is a thoughtful, patient, calculated general manager that is very aware that big steps need to be taken, but they also have to be done right to benefit the short, medium and long term of the organization.

So where do we go from here?

Everything you’ve read from us over the past months is simply the foreword to the book on General Manager Kyle Davidson. It’s the character development that tells you who he is in ideal with limited action to show us how he can act on his intentions.

Now the tires meet the road.

Now he gets to run an NHL Draft for the first time as a general manager.

Now he gets to prepare for and execute free agency for the first time as a general manager.

And, now, he gets to make decisions on some of the most significant trade(s) the organization has executed since the last championship — maybe ever if one of 19 or 88 is ever moved.

We’ve heard what types of players the front office wants. Now they get a chance to draft players to fit their mold. Will they move up to specifically target individual prospects? Will they move back to add more future assets?

And, next Wednesday when free agency opens, we’ll see what kinds of contracts he is willing to give and to what types of players. Who will he target? And how much is he willing to spend?

We’ve heard about their plan to develop players. Next week’s development camp will provide an opportunity to see how they start coaching up the next generation.

It’s go time for the Kyle Davidson Administration. Now we get to watch how the front office’s actions align with the vision he’s painted for us.

Author: Tab Bamford

Tab is the Lead Blackhawks voice for BN. He is the author of two books about the Blackhawks, most recently "Chicago Blackhawks: An Illustrated Timeline" (Reedy Press, 2021). Find him on Twitter at @The1Tab