In a surprise decision, the Blackhawks fired assistant coach Mike Haviland on Tuesday.
The announcement came not long after it was speculated that coach Joel Quenneville could leave the Hawks because of tension with the front office.
"Over the last days, there were some other things that were going on about here in Chicago and me being somewhere else, but first and foremost, I'm excited about being here in Chicago," Quenneville said during a conference call Tuesday. "I love the opportunity. I love the organization. I love where we're heading in the future. That's something I want to put to bed right from the outset."
Quenneville made it clear that it was his decision to fire Haviland -- not general manager Stan Bowman.
"At the end of the year, Stan, about a couple of days after the season ended, visited with me and we talked about a lot things about this season and our team," Quenneville said. "The one thing that we talked about was our coaching staff. In his eyes and the organization's eyes, how people viewed our coaching staff, I think he looked at it like there was some dysfunction to it.
"I took a look back at the situation and I had my own reflection on the job I did. I know I can be better in certain areas. I watch other playoff games, I know there is areas where I can be a better coach. At the same time, I had an assessment that there is some dysfunction to our coaching staff and we need a change.
"[Bowman] did offer me the opportunity for the first time since I've been here to look, if I needed to make changes to our coaching staff, to look at it and had the opportunity to make a coaching change or all the necessary changes that were there. I think the timing was where I felt like a change was necessary and going forward.
"It was not an easy decision. It was tough on Mike. I'm respectful for the job that he did. It's not the blame game here. And that's where we're at."
It's considered a surprise move because Haviland, a New Jersey native, is considered one of the top assistant coaches in the league and head coach in waiting. It was just last summer that he was a finalist for the head coach position with the Winnipeg Jets.
Sources told the Sun-Times that assistant Mike Kitchen was considered a candidate for firing by the front office, getting most of the blame for the Hawks' woeful power play.
Quenneville and Kitchen, though, are close friends. Since it was his decision to fire Haviland, Quenneville made sure to squelch the notion that he chose to retain Kitchen because of their relationship.
"I could have been status quo as well," Quenneville said. "It was my decision and I'm moving forward. ... I know some people look at it like I chose to keep a friend or a buddy or a guy that had an acquaintance with me in the past. But I don't look at people like that if you got opportunities to coach in our league. I've got a lot of respect for how challenging the requirements that make a successful coach.
"I've got a lot respect for Mike Kitchen and the job that he's done. He's been under a lot scrutiny here throughout the year and at the end of season be it with our power play. There's not a more respected man in my viewpoint throughout hockey. He's absorbing a lot of this brunt as well."
Quenneville said there is no timeline for naming Haviland's replacement and has no list of candidates as of right now.
Haviland was beloved by Hawks players and played a key role in a lot of their development. Haviland spent four seasons as an assistant coach with the Hawks, being named to the staff on July 23, 2008. He spent three years as the head coach of the team's American Hockey League affiliates, Norfolk (2005-07) and Rockford (2007-08).
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