Chicago Norm

Norm Maciver hoists the Stanley Cup in 2013 after the Chicago 

Blackhawks defeated the Boston Bruins for the NHL championship. The 

Thunder Bay product has moved into the new role of vice president, 

player personnel with the club following an eight-year stint as 

assistant general manager.

A shuffle in the Chicago Blackhawks’ front office has resulted in a new title and role, of sorts, for Thunder Bay’s Norm Maciver.

Finishing his eighth year as Chicago’s assistant general manager and 13th overall with the Blackhawks, Maciver has shifted into a newly designated heading of vice-president, player personnel.

This will allow Maciver to delve deeper into viewing and recruiting prospective talent. His new position will mean more time on the road scouting and less day-to-day time around the team.

Having his name etched on the Stanley Cup on three occasions as part of Chicago’s winning accomplishments in 2010, 2013 and 2015, Maciver will now be focusing on free agents at all levels.

This will include observing players in the NCAA hockey ranks as well as in Europe and the NHL. Maciver will also be out watching more potential top picks for upcoming NHL drafts.

A veteran of 500 NHL games in his playing career, the former three-time All-American standout and Hobey Baker Award finalist at the University of Minnesota-Duluth will be relied upon to evaluate future talent to help the Blackhawks unearth lesser-paid skilled players to help combat the club’s top-heavy payroll as they attempt to cope with a salary cap crunch.

“With Norm’s background, he’s really good at identifying players,” offered Chicago general manager Stan Bowman when discussing the move.

“We wanted to try to give him an opportunity to do more of that,” added Bowman. “He’s going to have a number of people who report to him and he’s responsible for guiding that whole group.”

Of note, Maciver’s previous part as assistant GM will now be filled by three separate people who have divvyed up his past responsibilities.

Prior to cracking the NHL, Maciver won AHL top defenceman honours in 1991.

OTHER BULLDOGS: A couple of other connections to the UMD Bulldogs have also made the news the past few days.

Thunder Bay’s Ryan Fanti has collected a pair of academic honours for his scholastic efforts at UMD.

Last week, Fanti was tabbed an American Hockey Coaches Association All-American Scholar for 2019-20 and also picked up National Collegiate Hockey Conference All-Academic Team laurels.

The Bulldogs freshman goaltender and business major earned NCHC Distinguished Scholar-Athlete status as well.

Meanwhile, former Bulldogs forward Billy Exell has re-signed with the ECHL’s Wichita Thunder for the 2020-21 campaign.

Coached by Bruce Ramsay, Exell joined the Thunder last season and collected 24 points in 54 outings.

Prior to that, he won back-to-back NCAA Frozen Four titles with UMD in 2018 and 2019.

ON THE MOVE: A third team in three years has seen Graeme McCormick switch sides in Slovakia.

Gearing up for his fifth year playing professionally in Europe, the 29-year-old defenceman has signed on with HK Dukla Michalove in the 12-team Tipsport League in Slovakia. He skated with Dukla Trencin in 2019-20 and HK Nitra prior to that.

Through his first four years in Europe, after a NCAA run at Bemidji State, McCormack has increased his point totals from the blueline in each of those campaigns after competing initially in Norway, then France, before arriving in Slovakia in 2018.

DID YOU KNOW: Lakehead product, the late Gaye Stewart sits fourth in NHL history in being the youngest player to make his NHL debut in the postseason. Stewart was only 18 years and 295 days old when he suited up for Toronto back in 1942.

Current Carolina head coach Rod Brind’Amour was the youngest at 18 and 245 days skating for St. Louis in 1989.

Also, Eric Staal is fifth in NHL history in playoff point-per-game average among those who were 25 years of age and under at 1.00.

Sidney Crosby tops that list at 1.32.

Staal is the only member of the Minnesota Wild that has a Stanley Cup win to his credit.

Tom Annelin’s column appears weekly in The Chronicle-Journal. You can contact Tom at tommyhockey@tbaytel.net.

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