Mike Kitchen

Blackhawks’ Quenneville on staying: “I love everything about what we have here”

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The Chicago Blackhawks have come a long way since hiring head coach Joel Quenneville. That fact might not be clearer in the fact that there were murmurs about a potential departure after two “disappointing” first-round exits following the team’s resounding Stanley Cup run in 2010. You can put those rumors to bed, however, as Quenneville told Chris Boden and others “that was never in the cards.”

“I love everything about what we have here,” Quenneville said. “I have two more years left (on my contract) and I’m happy here. Nothing gave me an indication that [a departure] was on the horizon.”

That doesn’t mean that everything will be the same next season, however. The Blackhawks decided to part ways with one assistant (Mike Haviland) and keep Mike Kitchen in the mix. Adam Jahns and others note that Quenneville is very close with Kitchen but Coach Q made two stern claims: this wasn’t a matter of cronyism and he’s calling the shots as far as his assistants go.

On “dysfunction” in the coaching staff: “I knew it could be better but there was dysfunction” and Blackhawks GM Stan Bowman “provided opportunity for change.”

Haviland’s the one out of a job, but Quenneville told the press that much of the failures were on his head.

“I feel like I should be absorbing as much as anybody,” Quenneville said. “I take ownership for what happened this year.”

It’s not surprising that the Blackhawks are sticking with a coach who won them a recent Cup and navigated some choppy post-cap-purge waters, but the calls for his head will get louder if Chicago doesn’t make good on its talented core again. If that happens, he’ll at least go down fighting with “his guys.”

Blackhawks changes begin with firing of assistant Mike Haviland

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The Chicago Blackhawks had an up-and-down 2011-12 season, yet their power play was mostly down. It looks like that flaw won’t cost head coach Joel Quenneville’s job, but assistant Mike Haviland is out of a top after four years as a helper.

(Quenneville is currently holding an informative press conference that we’ll break down pretty soon.)

Haviland was primarily in charge of the power play for some time before making way to Mike Kitchen. CSNChicago.com’s Chris Boden points out that unit started off in the bottom of the league with Haviland, received a nice boost when Kitchen took it over and then flat-lined again. Not taking advantage of the man advantage reared its ugly head on the largest scale in Chicago’s six-game series defeat at the hands of the surging Phoenix Coyotes.

Here’s your totally random question to chew on for a moment, then: would the Blackhawks’ power play have struggled so much if Brian Campbell wasn’t traded? Keeping his hefty cap hit on the docket would have been a challenge in itself, but one cannot help but wonder if it’s something that Haviland (and Kitchen too, to some extent*) might ponder as he searches for his next coaching gig.

* – Kitchen probably will keep his job, so he’ll lose less sleep.