By Chris Block
We have further information on Chicago Blackhawks front office and hockey operations shakeups from the off season before we advance into the heart of the matter now that training camps are active.
Michel Dumas, the last remaining relic generally associated with the Bill Wirtz / Bob Pulford era of Blackhawks hockey, has moved on.
Dumas, 65, briefly served as Tony Esposito’s backup on the Hawks during the mid-70’s. Dumas suffered a career-ending right eye injury during a game against Colorado at Chicago Stadium on December 26, 1976. With his playing career over, he was given a job by Bill Wirtz as an amateur scout the very next season.
Dumas tenure on the Blackhawks scouting staff spanned the next 37 years. This lead to a running joke in circles for many years that the Blackhawks top scout was ‘legally blind.’
In 1992, Dumas would be promoted to Chief Amateur Scout. He held that position until Bruce Franklin, who has been on the Hawks scouting staff now for over 20 years, took over from Dumas in 2010.
Dumas’ influence began a descent in the mid-2000’s and more so in 2006 when Dale Tallon hired Mark Kelley away from Pittsburgh. Kelley, a Craig Patrick understudy, chose to move on from the Penguins after Patrick was let go after the 2005-06 season and Ray Shero got the Pens’ GM job.
Kelley had been an amateur scout with Pittsburgh for 13 seasons and stayed on the Pens’ staff through the 2006 draft, then joined the Blackhawks. Prior to Pittsburgh, Kelley was an amateur scout with Quebec under Pierre Page, and was part of the Nordiques’ staff that drafted Mats Sundin, Adam Foote, Owen Nolan, Andrei Kovalenko, Alexander Karpovtsev, Dave Karpa, Bill Lindsay, Eric Lindros, Jocelyn Thibault, Steve Passmore, Tuomas Gronman, Anson Carter, Rene Corbet and Adam Deadmarsh.
In 2008, Kelley was promoted to the Blackhawks’ director of amateur scouting, a position that presided over Dumas, and now Franklin.
This summer, Dumas accepted a temporary position as Team President of his hometown Thetford Mines Isothermic, a minor pro team in Quebec. He is expected to hold that job for at least most of this season while the team finds a permanent president. Dumas played junior hockey for the Thetford Mines Canadiens, which is ten minutes from the town he was born in.
Eric Lecompte, the first player drafted under Dumas’ reign as Chief Amateur scout, played his final two seasons of professional hockey with Thetford Mines (LNAH), prior to calling it a career in 2013. The LNAH is essentially a semi-pro league.
Though he shouldn’t shoulder all the blame, as Chief Amateur Scout, Dumas presided over some of the worst drafts in franchise history. From 1993 to 2003 the Blackhawks used first round draft picks on Eric Lecompte, Ethan Moreau (now a pro scout with Monteal), Dimitri Nabokov, Dan Cleary, Ty Jones, Mark Bell, Steve McCarthy, Mikhail Yakubov, Pavel Vorobiev (still playing in Russia’s minor league), Tuomo Ruutu and Anton Babchuk. He was still onboard, and in that position, though in 2003 and 2004 when the Hawks drafts took an upturn, picking the likes of Brent Seabrook, Corey Crawford, Dustin Byfuglien, Cam Barker, Dave Bolland, Bryan Bickell and Troy Brouwer.
Dumas was signed by the Blackhawks in 1971, but spent most of his pro career with the Hawks’ farm club, the Dallas Black Hawks. There, Dumas won the award for fewest goals against in 1972. His first NHL appearance totaled 1 minute, relieving Esposito in the middle of a shutout at Chicago Stadium on February 23rd, 1975 while Esposito’s glove underwent a quick repair. Esposito finished the game, a 4-0 shutout over the Atlanta Flames. Thus, Dumas shared a shutout with the future Hall of Famer in his very first Blackhawks’ appearance. He appeared in just 8 regular season games during his brief NHL career, and one other in relief duty during the 1975 playoffs. His record was 2-1-2 (ties) and a goals against average of 3.97.
Replacing Dumas on the Hawks’ amateur scouting staff is Rob Facca, who left his assistant coaching position with the Western Michigan University Broncos on June 30th.
Facca, 35, has worked as an assistant coach in the USHL and also with his almamater University of Nebraska-Omaha prior to spending seven seasons behind the WMU bench. This past season he served as Associate Coach of the Broncos.
Facca’s eldest son Louis, 7, suffers from Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy and the Facca family is very active in spreading the awareness of the disease.
In addition to Dumas, whose duties had cut back in recent years, Jad Ramsay is also no longer with the team.
Another change in the scouting department is Hudson Chodos being named Scouting Coordinator. He was previously and intern in hockey ops.
The Amateur Scouting Staff under Kelley, Franklin and Ron Anderson (Director, Player Recruitment) is Facca, Gord Donnelly, Mike Doneghey, Darrell May, Jim McKellar and Peter Nevin.
Rick Comley is also part of the team (Player Recruitment is his title). Comley’s son, Rick Jr., is the assistant GM and scout for the Omaha Lancers (USHL).
Adam Gill is the Rockford IceHogs’ new video coach.
Gill replaces Matt Prefontaine, who was hired by Kevin Cheveldayoff this off season to be the Winnipeg Jets’ new video coach.
Gill was formerly the Chicago Blackhawks Hockey Analytics/Video Analyst. Gill has been with the organization since 2011, starting as an intern in an analytics’ capacity then too.
The Blackhawks have not named a full-time replacement for the Analytics’ role.
Gill is a Glenview native and graduate of St. Mary’s (Winona, MN) where he played hockey as well.
It should be noted, the Blackhawks hockey analytics’ position reports directly to Scotty Bowman, Senior Advisor, not Stan Bowman (GM), Norm Maciver (Asst. GM) or anyone on the Hawks’ coaching staff. The same goes for the limited manual advanced statistics coming out of Rockford, those are emailed to Scotty after every game as well.
Scotty Bowman has been a proponent of using hockey analytics in various forms for many years, dating back when he was still with Detroit.
The Blackhawks and Carolina Hurricanes each went in on new advanced software applications three years ago and Scotty has overseen those numbers ever since.
Part of the IceHogs’ video coach’s job is to breakdown game film and provide statistics not tracked by the AHL, something Gill is well-suited for, given his Hawks’ experience.
Gill has said that his ultimate goal is to get into a larger role in hockey operations.
Prefontaine, who is from Winnipeg, started with the IceHogs in 2010 as a broadcasting intern. During that season he developed a rapport with then head coach Bill Peters and did some video work for Peters’ staff. The next season, he was hired by the Blackhawks to be Rockford’s video coach, originally to be on Bill Peters’ staff, but Peters soon took a job as Mike Babcock’s assistant in Detroit and Ted Dent became the IceHogs’ head coach. Prefontaine served in the position for three seasons.
Some more info on the Blackhawks hire of Mark Eaton as a new developmental coach.
Eaton was brought on, in part, to replace Keith Carney, who is taking a sabbatical from the team to take a 7-month journey across the United States with his wife and kids in an RV. This is a true story. More power to them. Seven uninterrupted months of my family confined and touring together would surely turn into a national news event after no more than seven days. I’m also fairly certain Scotty Bowman is not a proponent of living out of a mobile home for any length of time. The basement of a northwest side bungalow is probably as far as Scotty’s going to be willing to stretch it.
The player developmental coaching staff now includes Eaton, skating coach Kevin Delaney, Adrian Aucoin and Yanic Perreault. All report to Barry Smith.
You can also add Dave Cowan to the Hawks’ pro scouting staff. That’s 5 new pro scouts the team has added since last season. We wrote about Wade Brookbank, Mike Grier, Mike Mottau and Derek Booth earlier this month. They join Alex Brooks, Dennis Bonvie and Don Lever on the North American pro scouting staff. Ryan Stewart is the director of pro scouting, making that a staff of nine. This excludes Pierre Gauthier and Barry Smith, who both do scouting assignments from time to time as well.
So, in the wake of a summer which was headlined by the business of advanced analytics, the Blackhawks have more than doubled the man-power on its pro scouting staff and relocated their primary Hockey Analytics person to Rockford.
Blackhawks have also officially added a new scouting position in Europe.
Markus Korhonen becomes the team’s European Goaltending Scout.
Korhonen, 39, will also maintain his position as the goaltender coach for the Finnish league team, Ilves, which plays in Tampere, his hometown. Christian Ruuttu’s son Alexander (an Arizona Coyotes’ draft pick) plays for that team. Alex was born in Chicago while Christian was playing for the Blackhawks.
After retiring in 2010, Korhonen became the goaltending coach at Ilves. His prized pupil since then would be Sami Aittokallio (Colorado Avalanche/Lake Erie Monsters), who he coached from 2010-12.
Korhonen’s 17-year pro career was spent entirely in Europe, mostly in Finland’s SM-Liiga, but with stints in Sweden and a brief stay with SKA St. Petersburg in Russia as well.
He was Tim Thomas’s backup in Finland for the 2001-02 season. This was Thomas’ final year in Europe before he joined the Bruins’ organization and became a known commodity in North America. And on the same team the next season, Korhonen backed up future Minnesota Wild backstop, Nicklas Backstrom, and Pekka Rinne got his feet wet as well that season.
Korhonen also served as Vesa Toskala’s backup in Tampere early in his career (1996-99). He was with Byrnas is Sweden in 2007-08 where the arrival of Jacob Markstrom pushed Korhonen out for subsequent season and he finished his career bouncing around Europe from 2008-10.
Aside from Kevin Dineen taking over for the departed Jamie Kompon on Joel Quenneville’s staff, the only other change is the Blackhawks naming their third goaltending coach in three years.
Steve Weeks “didn’t work out,” and was let go following last season. Former Blackhawk netminder Jimmy Waite was hired and should have a good working relationship with Corey Crawford. Waite’s experience (specifically early in his career) over his career should be a great assistance to Antti Raanta as well.
Jeff Uyeno has been added to the Blackhawks training staff as an equipment assistant.
The Rockford IceHogs training staff welcomes Brian Schmidt as its new Assistant Equipment Manager. Schmidt returns to Rockford, having worked with the team in its final season before joining the AHL in 2007. Last season Schmidt worked on the training staff of the Mississippi RiverKings (SPHL). Schmidt replaces D.J. Kogut, who has gone back to work for the Chicago Wolves equipment staff.
Ian Gentile got a job title change, from Manager of Hockey Administration to Manager of Player Development. Not sure what that entails, though Kyle Davidson (Coordinator, Hockey Administration) saw his role increase last season with Mark Bernard (Director, Hockey Admin, Rockford IceHogs GM) relocating his office from the BMO Harris Bank Center in Rockford to the United Center.
In the media and public relations department, Rob Tillotson left this summer to take on the role as Washington Captials’ Manager of Team Services. Tillotson previously served as the Hawks’ manager of media relations.
Kevin Orris was hired as Coordinator of Media Relations, an opening created through Tillotson’s departure. Orris is a Chicago native (and at one time, hockey blogger from 5 or so seasons ago) who has worked for professional sports franchises in Peoria and Tampa Bay.
The team has added a new “mental skills” coach – Andrew Joy, who joins James Gary in that department. Unsure if this additional hire is part of the Kris Versteeg reclamation project.
In the corporate area, Greg Zinsmeister has been promoted from account executive to Senior Account Executive.
Leanne Mayville got a job and title change, now serving as coordinator of human services and office administration.
In Ticket Operations, the staff has remained intact but Andrew Roan (senior account executive) and Shilpa Rupani (senior customer service executive) received promotions.
Eddie Olczyk’s son Tommy interned in the finance department over the summer. He’s now back at Penn State where he plays hockey and is an accounting major. His grandfather was also an accountant and had an office not 200 feet from where I’m currently writing this.