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Mike Haviland fired by Blackhawks

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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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12 Comments

Blackhawks will miss Havi, a class man and good hockey mind.

Was Quenneville thinking let me get rid of this guy ( Haviland ) before they fire me and make him head coach. This is the part of hockey I hate, the good ones always take the fall . Not worried though maybe the Rangers Asst Coach Mike Sullivan who is rumored to be considered for a head coaching job will get one and Haviland will be the asst coach of the Rangers. Now that would be sweet

This is a total power struggle within the Hawks and will back fire, mark my words. Word within the Hawks marketing department is that the front office, player personnel and coaching staff functions were in disarray all season. Those in the know say that the players hates Kitchen, he is negative and arrogant. He cannot teach, but for that matter nor can Q. But "Kitch" is Q's best buddy, their wives are best buddies, their dogs are best buddies. Scotty Bowman hates Kitchen. Scotty put Barry Smith in to fix the dreadful PP. Q and Kitch REALLY hates Barry. Q fears Scotty. McDonut, I mean McDonough, is too stupid to see or appreciate what is going on. Stan is lost. So Q fires the one guy who the players like and who might actually be doing what is best for the team, rather than protecting his job or his buddy's job. It is sickening that no one in the organization had the balls to stand up to Q -- who will be gone by year's end anyway.

mike haviland is the best and Q is an asshole

Like Q said haviland pk was worse then kitchens pp both years in a row. kitchen had the pp at 4th two seasons ago and then havi got a shot and it went to dead last before giving it back to kitch half way this season. Plus he led both seasons pk to 27th place.

If Haviland is such a good coach then why hasn't he been offered a job once? he received a call from his old friend in Winnipeg but Tallon never gave him a time of day or any other of the multiple GMs with job openings since they won the cup.

I can't believe they let Haviland go. He did a great job while Q was out sick. Kitchen is a pain in the butt. Everything went south when he showed up. This is going to tear up a good team. Oh wait, they let Tallon go also. What a bunch of goofs.

Havi is the fall guy. Q should have been a man and left the Hawks. The Coyotes kicked their ASS. Another loser Chicago team.

Two seasons ago Kitchen wan't even with the team - he was hired in July of 2010. So basically Kitchen took most of the same players, except for Brian Campbell, and turned a PP that was 4th into a PP that finished 27th - and was even worse in the playoffs.
Sorry to see Havvy go - guaranteed this will be a mistake.

Mike will be a winner again and help players reach their potential. Wherever he goes the team is successful. ECHL, AHL, NHL. Just too bad that a good hockey mind is out of the rink, but not for long. Some team will have the common hockey sense to bring him aboard. Hope it's the Flyers. Hnag in there Mike. Great memories from AC & Trenton.

Looks like a return to the dark ages for the Hawks. Only 2-3 decent players and an angry, wimpy coach.

This is exactly what happened. I happen to know Havi and spoke with him today. Q will not be coaching this team in another year. Havi will be back in Chitown as the head coach. The players will be pissed this year.

Seams like they made the right choice!

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Mark Lazerus was honored nationally by the Associated Press Sports Editors for three straight years at the Post-Tribune, was named one of the top three columnists in Indiana for three straight years and has won more than 20 statewide writing awards. He has covered Notre Dame for Sun-Times Media, and now covers the Blackhawks.

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This page contains a single entry by Adam L. Jahns published on May 8, 2012 5:11 PM.

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