Early last week, the Chicago Blackhawks touched off a heck of a mid-summer drama when they fired General Manager Dale Tallon and ignited a few rounds of "he-said/he-said/he-said" that probably isn't over yet.
Now comes word from Larry Brooks (standard "consider the source" caveat applies) that Capitals
deadweight scapegoat extraordinaire pivot Michael Nylander may have been at the center of what eventually cost Tallon his job:
The story circulating through NHL front offices, and relayed to Slap Shots by four general managers, is that Dale Tallon essentially had been operating as the Blackhawks' lame-duck GM since late November or early December, when he agreed to trade netminder Nikolai Khabibulin to Washington for center Michael Nylander. [Ed note: seems it wasn't Dustin Byfuglien and Brent Sopel after all.]
That ill-advised deal was vetoed by club president John McDonough, who then bided his time until he could come up with a reason/excuse to dismiss Tallon. The opening came when the Blackhawks were tardy delivering qualifying offers to a handful of Group II free agents, a costly blunder.
Khabibulin, of course, took the Blackhawks to the Western finals before signing a free-agent deal with Edmonton this month. Nylander, who still has two years at $4.875 million per season remaining on his contract, was a marginal player for the Caps, often a healthy scratch in the playoffs.
No wonder Washington GM George McPhee was livid when Chicago backed out of the deal. No wonder McDonough began to have second thoughts about keeping Tallon in power.
Michael Nylander's reach, apparently, has extended to screwing up teams of which he's not even a part. Amazing.
Oh, and lest you think McDonough's player valuation skills are razor sharp as evidenced by the potentially season-saving veto noted above, it's McDonough who gets the blame "for the signings of goalie Cristobal Huet and defenseman Bryan Campbell to large U.F.A. contracts" last summer.
So thanks, Dale Tallon, for trying your best to take Michael Nylander off the Caps' hands - it's truly a shame you weren't allowed to just do your job.