Q&A with Hawks GM Kyle Davidson ahead of trade deadline originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago
It’s been a busy last few weeks for Blackhawks GM Kyle Davidson, and it’s about to get busier with the NHL trade deadline 10 days away.
In an exclusive interview with NBC Sports Chicago on Thursday’s pregame show, Davidson opened up about his mindset going into the deadline, becoming a social media star and working closely with the business side, the decision to bring back former assistant GM Norm Maciver and much more.
Here is the full transcript from the Q&A, which has been lightly edited for brevity and clarity:
The hard-hitting questions out of the gates. With the trade deadline getting closer, we have to know: Are you a one phone or a two-phone GM?
I don’t even know what a two-phone GM means, but yeah no, I’ve only got one. I’m good with one.
You’ve obviously made some changes to your front office. Let’s start with Norm Maciver, bringing him back, what does he bring to the organization and how has your relationship with him developed over these last few years?
Norm brings that institutional knowledge that I really coveted and his talent evaluation skills are second to none, and that’s something I really wanted to bring in and to place atop the scouting operation within our front office. I thought that was really important, for him to come in, do things a little bit differently and put his own spin on how we operate within the scouting department.
But yeah, Norm and I have worked hand in hand for quite some time prior to him leaving for Seattle, but just really excited to get him back in. He’s the first of a lot of hires, but I think as we look forward, he’s going to bring that institutional, traditional background to the operation and we’ll look to bring in some new perspectives down the road here.
And Norm will also bring an opposing viewpoint from time to time, and that was the story we heard when he was here in Chicago, that he wasn’t afraid to speak up if he didn’t think something was the absolute best for the organization.
No, absolutely. He’s not afraid to share his opinion and that’s something that I really value, and I really value that in people that I have around me. I just want to know what they think, I want their opinion, and that’s why I’ll have them with me.
Norm’s not afraid to do that, absolutely, and our relationship lends to that as well where we’ll share exactly what we think with each other, even if it’s coming at it from two different ends of the spectrum, but you know what, that’s how you get to the right decision and the most informed decision, by getting those opinions and dissenting opinions.
Can you walk us through what your first week as a permanent general manager was like for you? Obviously the media tour, and stressing about getting the job itself, and then having all these obligations with the trade deadline coming up, etc.
Yeah, it’s a bit of a blur looking back now. There was obviously the press conference which was exciting and having my family there was amazing and a little bit, not disconcerting, but they’ve never really been with me at work so that was a whole different experience. But the week after was filled with media and just the whole bunch of different experiences, letting the fans get to know me a little bit, so it was really exciting, it was busy but very productive and very fun at the same time.
You were a bit of a Blackhawks social media star this past week, too. You even served drinks in the atrium to fans. Is that sort of an example of how you would like to see hockey and business ops work together, the way you and Jaime Faulkner have in the past week and actually the past year?
Yeah, I think it’s a great example. There’s not a lot of public facing examples. We’re working together every day, but people don’t necessarily see that. This is definitely something that’s in the public realm for everyone to see. It was really fun.
I believe it was a great opportunity for fans to get to know me, I think that’s really important as well. I’m not someone that they know all that well yet, but we’re working on that and hoping to get my personality and who I am out there but working alongside Jaime has been fantastic and it’s something that we’re definitely going to continue to do moving forward. It’s fun, it’s productive and it’s how it should be.
You said earlier you’re going to start adding to your staff and Norm was just the first of many hires to come. But you did make some changes to the scouting department, what went into those changes and why did you feel now was the necessary time to do that?
Yeah, with me taking over full-time, that was just a necessary change in new leadership coming in, it’s time to do things a little bit differently and I think that’s natural with leadership change, but just looking to do things a different way and with bringing in and instilling some new philosophies and direction into the front office staff and so it’s part of the business and it’s something that you want to move on and get that different direction moving right away, so that’s kind of what went into that decision.
What’s your mindset going into this trade deadline as you embark on a rebuild?
I think the mindset is just to be open and be ready to evaluate all of the options that are presented to us. We don’t get to set the market, we don’t get to dictate what we’re able to do. We have an idea of what path we’d like to go on but we’ll just take what comes at us and make sure we go down the path that’s best for the Chicago Blackhawks long term.
I wanted to ask you about Marc-Andre Fleury. It’s believed that the old regime made an agreement with Fleury that they wouldn’t trade him this season if he didn’t want to be moved. Are you comfortable with honoring that agreement, even though he might be one of the biggest rental trade chips that you have?
Well look, I think the one thing — and I’ve stated it in the past — is that if we’re left with Marc-Andre Fleury on the last day of the season, we’re a better organization for it. He’s an unbelievable professional, unbelievable player, and there’s so much opportunity for not only the young players but just our organization to benefit from having someone like that on our team and in our organization right through the end of the season.
But I think it’s all about evaluating the options and I think Marc said it in the past, we’ve been in contact with his representatives and we’ll just kind of evaluate what comes at us from here.
Last one: How active have the phone lines been with you and other general managers, and do you expect to be very active before the March 21st deadline?
Yeah, I don’t think there’s anything out of the usual in the last little while. Just general checking in with teams, but I’m sure as the deadline approaches and the time gets shorter, we’ll see a pick-up in those phones and maybe I will need that second phone that you’re talking about. I don’t need it yet but we’ll see. I’m sure it’ll pick up as we get closer to the 21st.