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The teams which are left standing in the NHL post season play a consistent style and they look very comfortable doing so. That is probably why they are still alive in the quest for Lord Stanley. When the going gets tough they stick to their systems for the most part. Players on each club trust each other and don’t try to do too much. The same can’t be said about the Blackhawks over the previous two seasons.
Some are quick to point out that hockey isn’t a complicated sport. There aren’t as many set plays as in football or basketball and that can’t be argued. In some ways hockey is a simple game, but make no mistake, it is difficult to play consistently well. The Kings, Coyotes, Rangers and Devils all have very good goalkeeping and they have players which fit their style.
Each playoff survivor has a roster which meshes well. Each team can hide weaknesses and exploit strengths. For the Blackhawks to make a long playoff run they need to have a more defined style and a roster which allows them to excel.
Currently, it is difficult to know exactly what the Blackhawks strength is, although goal scoring would come to mind first. Last season when Joel Quenneville got his club to be more responsible on defense the scoring dropped off. Averaging two goals per game in regulation over the final two months against playoff caliber teams doesn’t scream explosive offense.
The normal course of business for NHL clubs concerning changing coaching personnel is to do so quickly once their season ends. The biggest reason is so coaches who won’t be retained are not in involved in making plans for the following season. In that way, strategy and off season wish lists are kept in house.
In Blackhawk land things can be different.
Mike Haviland was fired after exit interviews and organizational meetings were conducted. Quenneville mentioned GM Stan Bowman gave him permission to make coaching changes following the playoffs, but yet he waited. Actually, Quenneville waited so long he gave Haviland the bad news over the phone, after he had gone back home to his family.
Those wanting to connect the dots have reason to believe there was a verdict reached by Rocky Wirtz which led to releasing Haviland. It appears the Montreal head coaching vacancy may have pushed Hawk management to give Quenneville his wish to have two handpicked assistants. Wirtz could have been caught between a rock and hard place and decided keeping Quenneville was the best option for the Hawks.
Sacrificing Haviland, who had been well thought of in the organization couldn’t have been easy, but Quenneville is a proven head coach. Haviland “might” be an outstanding head coach someday and whispers indicate he was stunned when he got the news from Quenneville. As far as this summer is concerned, Haviland’s dismissal won’t be the only change for the Blackhawks.
Scuttlebutt is Hawk players aren’t happy Haviland is gone. Many times an assistant is the buffer between players and the head coach. Quenneville may have been bothered Haviland was close to many players but his dismissal is not likely to make remaining assistant Mike Kitchen any more popular.
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