The Chicago Blackhawks made a change in their coaching staff Tuesday. It was certainly not the change anyone expected.
The 'Hawks sent out a stunner with the news that assistant coach Mike Haviland was let go. Even more shocking was the revelation that the firing was done by head coach Joel Quenneville. In one move, the head coach asserted a fair share of control and put down rumors of his impending departure to Montreal.
Chris Kuc of the Chicago Sun-Times reported on the change of direction in the coaching staff. A move in this area was hinted at for a couple of weeks since the Blackhawks were eliminated from the playoffs.
Few thought the axe was poised over Halivand's neck.
Two weeks ago, I posed the question of which coach's job was in the most danger. Over 500 readers weighed in on the poll. Mike Kitchen was the choice of over 85 percent of those responding. Less than four percent saw Haviland leaving town.
I thought GM Stan Bowman would want to add another organization man to the coaching staff, which would mean removing Kitchen from the mix. Turns out that Quenneville was allowed to make the call. Not surprisingly, he chose to remove the assistant he inherited over the one he brought into the fold.
As Quenneville explained to Kuc:
I had an assessment that there is some dysfunction to our coaching staff and we need a change. General manager Stan Bowman did offer me the opportunity for the first time since I've been here to look if I need a change to our coaching staff ... and I had the opportunity to make a coaching change or all the necessary changes that were there.
With Haviland out of the picture, Chicago's heir apparent is no longer next to Quenneville on the 'Hawks bench. I'm pretty sure that this move will be followed by Quenneville bringing in one of his guys to assist him next season.
Bowman may have good reason to allow Quenneville to flex some muscle in regards to his choice of assistants. Quenneville now assumes a larger share of the responsibility of how next year's team will fare.
If things go south, and the 'Hawks fall short of expectations for the third straight season, it will be the head coach who will be in the cross hairs. One thing is for sure. The Blackhawks have started the offseason with an unexpected, brash move.