May 9, 2012, 2:39 PM EDT
It doesn’t usually make headlines when assistant coaches are hired, but you might want to keep an eye on Chicago to see who Joel Quenneville taps to replace the fired Mike Haviland.
Haviland’s firing comes after speculation that Quenneville might be willing to leave the Hawks because of friction with team brass.
“That’s something I want to put to bed right from the outset,” Quenneville said. “I love everything about our situation here in Chicago.”
But that doesn’t mean there won’t be more discontent, especially if Quenneville doesn’t get the final say in who replaces Haviland. If director of player development Barry Smith is thrust upon Quenneville again, more problems might arise.
Smith, you may recall, was sent in by management partway through the season to help the Blackhawks turn around their struggling power play – a power play that neither Haviland nor assistant Mike Kitchen was able to solve.
Ultimately Haviland paid the price while Kitchen’s services were retained despite many believing he should be the one to get the boot. A close friendship with the head coach likely helped Kitchen in that regard, though Quenneville denied that had anything to do with it.
Frankly, it all sounds quite dysfunctional.
As for who will be in charge of hiring Haviland’s replacement?
“I feel like it’s going to be my decision,” Quenneville said. “I haven’t put [Smith] on my list. I don’t have a list drawn up here at all right now. I don’t even want to speculate on any list. That process, I want to keep confidential.”
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