Coaching the Champs: Joel Quenneville and the Chicago Blackhawks Staff
With all the talk about the transactions and departures that have occurred for the Blackhawks this offseason, one aspect that has been somewhat shuffled to the side is the coaching staff going into this season.
Last year, the Blackhawks had a good mix of talented coaches that brought their own different elements to make the Blackhawks the Champions.
The Stache' Returns
Obviously, it is very important this year that Coach Joel Quenneville is returning this year to try to bring another title to Chicago. He is going to have somewhat of a harder challenge this season as he is going to have to make sure the young inexperienced players come in and bring their best from day one.
Coach Quenneville is going to have to motivate the players right away, and make sure they are aware that the target is going to be on the Blackhawks back every time the puck drops. Fans in other areas are going to love to boo the team, and they are going to be the Miami Heat of the NHL. Well, maybe that’s a stretch but the coaches have to make sure the guys are ready to go every night.
The Torch Went Down To Georgia
The departure of John Torchetti was a tough pill to swallow as he was very instrumental in many in-game outcomes that were seen with his coaching philosophies. Torchetti is now the Atlanta Thrashers Associate Head Coach and was the man that helped make the Blackhawks power play become one of the best in the NHL. Yes, players put the puck in the net, but Torchetti was a coach that helped them develop.
It may not be the factor that changes the course of the Western Conference in the 2010-2011 season, but John Torchetti is a skilled coach and it would have been nice if he could have somehow been brought back.
He will do a fine job working for GM Rick Dudley of the Thrashers who he has worked with before, and he will have to feel pretty comfortable coaching Atlanta with all the ex-Hawks on their team.
Come Into The Kitchen
The man that replaced John Torchetti is a man that "Coach Q" is very familiar with, Mike Kitchen. Kitchen was an assistant coach for the Panthers and does have head coaching experience with St. Louis from 2003-2006. Before that, Kitchen was an assistant to Quenneville for some very talented Blues teams, including a President’s Trophy winner in the 1999-2000 season. Kitchen should be able to pick up the slack and do a fine job in Coach Torchetti's stead.
The key for Coach Kitchen and the rest of the staff will be to find the players that are going to make up what has been lost in the offseason transactions (Ladd, Byfuglien). This should happen by the first puck drop against Colorado as Kitchen seems to be a reliable replacement.
Got The Other Mike Back
The Blackhawks also retained the services of Mike Haviland who has been a very instrumental part of the organization since 2005. He served as the head coach of the minor league teams in Norfolk and later Rockford. Unlike Torchetti the team was able to retain him this season.
GM Stan Bowman said in regards to both Mike Kitchen and Haviland, "Adding Mike Kitchen and bringing back Mike Haviland bolster what is already a tremendous coaching staff under Joel’s guidance."
Hawks Play The Waite'ing Game Again
Finally, the team was able to retain goaltending coach Stephane Waite who is the longest-tenured of any of the coaches on the staff. He is considered one of the best at what he does, and it can be proven simply by the results seen in Antti Niemi last season.
Working with Marty Turco could also prove to be very beneficial and successful for the Blackhawks. Turco is going to come into this season motivated, and the aid of Stephane Waite plus the Blackhawks' superb defense could make this a match made in Heaven.
Looks Good Going Forward
This group of coaches seems to be a solid group, so I would not expect any changes to be made in the immediate future. Obviously, if the team struggles that could in fact change. But if there is any sense of anxiety or nervousness among Blackhawks fans, the coaching situation should not be on the worry list.
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