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Chicago Blackhawks GM Dale Tallon talks hockey, golf, pressure

Field HockeyGolfBars and ClubsDining and DrinkingManagement Change

I've been with a lot of teams, and this is the best group of people, on or off the ice, that I've been associated with as far as respecting and liking each other and wanting each other to do well.

Joel{+1} has been a great asset to us. He has done a wonderful job with these young guys. It wasn't easy, that's for sure. It was the toughest thing I've ever had to do. But you have to make tough decisions when it's business-related. You can't let personal stuff get involved.

Sure, we would've looked at anything that made sense,{+2} but there was nothing that made sense. So, we took the next-best approach, and that was to utilize both of them.

Obviously, we got caught with our pants down and I take full responsibility for that.{+3} But taking a negative and turning it into a positive, because of that style of play that we tried to incorporate after the lockout, we were able to get these high picks and put this team together.

It was hockey day and night.{+4} It was 10 months of winter and two months of bad skating.

My dad played hockey for Eddie Shore in the American Hockey League years ago. He didn't quite get along with Eddie, so he went up north and the mine offered him a job as a coach and they gave him a job. He met my mother. My mother was a seamstress who worked for the Singer Sewing Machine Co. My dad started his own construction company and ran some hockey programs for kids. My dad loved kids. He loved kids that had nothing, kids that were poor and didn't have an opportunity, troubled kids. He'd give them gear and put them on teams. He was a special guy. Losing him in November was a big loss for me. He was my best friend.

That was phenomenal.{+5} That told me what kind of team we had, what kind of players we had. That told me we had a special group.

I played golf. I played hockey. I also played baseball. But I had to have good grades. If I had bad grades, I had to go work in the brickyard -- lift mortar and carry blocks of bricks. That was the motivator.

I had the same passion for golf as I did for hockey and hitchhiked all over Ontario and played a number of junior tournaments with no money in your pocket and sell the prize that you won to put cash in your pocket, just enough to survive to the next day.

My first year in Oshawa, I lived with the same family, slept in the same bedroom for a year that Bobby Orr had. How great was that?

I won the Canadian Junior Golf Championship in Kelowna, British Columbia, in 1969 and then I got drafted by Vancouver, and when they offered me my first contact, I told them no, I was going to play golf for a living. It was an idle threat. I was going to play hockey, no matter what. But I came up with a nice deal.

I was a club pro at Highland Park Country Club. Through a qualifying process through the club pro section, through the Illinois section, through the national club pro championship, I qualified for the Senior PGA Championship in 2003, so that was quite a thrill for me.

That was the greatest time of my life.{+6} That was voted Canada's Team of the Century, so to be a part of that ... that was communism against capitalism. It was a war. It was more than hockey. It was a way of life.

When I was healthy, I had good years. But most of the time I was hurt.

Dennis Hull and Jimmy Pappin are probably my two best friends in hockey.

I was going to go to Asia and try playing golf for a living, but they were looking for an ex-Blackhawk to do color on SportsVision. So, we were playing an old-timer's hockey game in Santa Rosa, Calif., with Charles Schulz, the guy who wrote "Peanuts," and Jimmy Pappin advised me to come to Chicago. I did a game with Jack Jacobson in Minnesota, and they hired me on the spot. I was making $400 a game. That was in September of 1982, so I came back and haven't left.

I was a golf pro in the summer and a broadcaster in the winter, and there was no pressure. Now, it's nothing but pressure. But I wouldn't trade it for anything.

The history is going to change here.

1 - Quenneville, whom Tallon brought in to replace Tallon's coach and friend Denis Savard four games into this season.

2 - Trading goalie Nikolai Khabibulin after signing free-agent goalie Cristobal Huet last summer.

3 - Putting together a team after the 2004-05 lockout that was too slow to take advantage of new rules aimed at emphasizing skating.

4 - In his hometown of Rouyn-Noranda, Quebec.

5 - When Hawks players chartered some unheated buses and rode north on an off day to attend the wake for Tallon's father.

6 - The 1972 Summit Series between Canada and the Soviet Union.

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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