CHICAGO (AP) — General manager Stan Bowman promised changes were coming after the Chicago Blackhawks were swept in the first round of the playoffs.
Boy, he wasn’t kidding.
Chicago re-acquired Brandon Saad and parted with Niklas Hjalmarsson and Artemi Panarin in a pair of stunning trades on Friday, giving the Blackhawks a younger look for their forwards and defensemen.
The Blackhawks won the Central Division last season with a 50-23-9 record, finishing with the most points in the Western Conference. They were considered one of the favorites to make it to the Stanley Cup.
But they were swept by Nashville in the opening series, managing just three goals in 13 periods in an embarrassing performance for a team with three championships since 2010. Bowman angrily called it a complete failure, and then overhauled coach Joel Quenneville’s staff and replaced the coach of the team’s top minor league affiliate.
Turns out he was just getting started.
Bowman traded forwards Panarin and Tyler Motte and Chicago’s sixth-round selection in this weekend’s NHL draft to Columbus for Saad, goaltender Anton Forsberg and a fifth-round draft pick next year. The deal was announced less than an hour after Hjalmarsson, a stalwart for the Blackhawks, was traded to Arizona for defenseman Connor Murphy and forward…