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Blackhawks’ GM Stan Bowman has full plate after Cheveldayoff’s exit

Hawks GM Stan Bowman said thKevCheveldayoff is “good candidate build winning team” Winnipeg. | Richard A. Chapman~Sun-Times

Hawks GM Stan Bowman said that Kevin Cheveldayoff is a “good candidate to build a winning team” in Winnipeg. | Richard A. Chapman~Sun-Times

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Updated: August 3, 2011 5:51PM

BOSTON — Blackhawks general manager Stan Bowman already had a lot on his table. There’s the NHL entry draft to prepare for and restricted free agents to sign.

Now he has one more responsibility: replacing assistant GM Kevin Cheveldayoff, who officially became in charge of running Winnipeg’s new NHL franchise on Wednesday.

“We’re certainly working on it actively,” Bowman said. “Those are some big shoes to fill, and that’s the way it works. I’m excited for [Cheveldayoff]. He earned it, and he’ll do a great job.”

The Sun-Times caught up with Bowman after the league GM meetings Wednesday in downtown Boston, where it was agreed that a broader definition of what constitutes a suspension-worthy hit was needed.

Still, as Bowman knows, there is much to address on the Hawks’ end:

Chevy talk

Bowman said he doesn’t expect much to change for the Hawks regarding the draft with Cheveldayoff now Winnipeg’s GM.

“He worked some of the amateur stuff, but that wasn’t his primary function,” Bowman said. “So that’s not really an issue.”

The Hawks definitely wanted to keep Cheveldayoff, who spent the last two seasons with the Hawks after building title-winning teams with the Wolves, in the fold. Compensation wasn’t an issue.

“We certainly talked to him about the fact that we didn’t want to lose him, the fact he has a great home and opportunity here,” Bowman said. “But I think it was hard to ­compete with a chance to run your own team.

“He’s a good candidate to build a winning team. It wasn’t really on our radar at this point, but that’s the way things go. I don’t think you ever sit there wondering when he’s going to leave. He’s a smart guy. He deserves a chance, and I’m for happy him in that way.”

Roster watch

Bowman has several restricted free agents, notably Chris Campoli, Michael Frolik, Viktor Stalberg and Troy Brouwer, to re-sign. And he said no deals are imminent.

“[Corey] Crawford was the big guy,” Bowman said. “These other guys we’re certainly going to get to in time. … We’re working through that. We’ve got to prepare for the draft. So we’re focusing on that and looking for a replacement [for Cheveldayoff], while concurrently trying to negotiate. Those things take time.”

Bowman did say he’s OK going into the season with Crawford and rookie Alexander Salak, who signed a two-year deal last month, as his goaltending tandem.

“We’re comfortable,” Bowman said. “Alexander deserves a chance in camp to show us what he can do. He had a great season last year and really two good years in a row.”

Bowman expects trade talks to heat up after the Stanley Cup finals. He also reiterated his desire for changes.

“It depends on trades ... and how that’s going to dictate [things],” he said. “We want to make changes. Whether they come through free agency or a trade, I’m not sure on that yet.”

More departures?

There are still head coaching vacancies in the NHL and assistant coach Mike Haviland should get consideration. But Bowman is yet to have a team ask to speak with him.

“No, but there’s a lot of coaching vacancies still out there,” he said. “We take those things as they come. Hopefully, he’s with us because he’s a great asset as well.”

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