By Ben Meyer-Abbott
Patrick Sharp was in Finland, playing for Canada at the International Ice Hockey World Championships, when he heard via social media about the Blackhawks' firing assistant coach Mike Haviland.
"I didn't hear too much about it. I just kind of saw the news, a blurb on Twitter actually," Sharp said Thursday at an appearance at the St. Louise De Marillac school in LaGrange Park. "Mike was a great coach to me, a great friend. I enjoyed playing for him. He's got a bright future in the game, he's well respected across the league. It's just a matter of time before he lands another job."
It was speculated that the firing of Haviland, a favorite of many players in the Hawks' locker room, could rankle some of the veterans on the team.
Hawks' coach Joel Quenneville, who made the decision to cut ties with Haviland after the assistant coach had lackluster results directing the power play and penalty kill last season, said after letting him go that there had been "dysfunction" among his coaching staff during the campaign.
But if that was the case, then it was news to Sharp.
"If there was, the players didn't sense it," Sharp said. "I thought they did a good job of hiding it. Those are all professional coaches in that room that do a good job of relaying messages to players, preparing us to play and I didn't know any of that. That's a credit to Joel and the staff for doing a great job the past couple years."
The Hawks have yet to name a replacement for Haviland, although general manager Stan Bowman it remains a top priority.
Sharp also took time to mark the end of the career of one of the greatest defensemen in the history of the NHL and a great rival, Nicklas Lidstrom.
"He's just good in every area," Sharp said Lidstrom, who retired Tuesday after 20 seasons on the blue line for the Detroit Red Wings. "He never hit you, he never played physical but you could never get to the net, you could never get around him. He had such a great stick, he was always in position and he was a great player with puck. He could put passes right on a guy's stick, he ran that power play for years in Detroit. He's one of those guys that every team would be drafting him first overall if they were picking an all-time team."
But despite the Red Wings losing the pillar of the defense for the last two decades, Sharp was confident their Hawks' rivals would be in the mix for the Central Division title next season.
"That's a big loss from them, but Ken Holland's a great [general manager] and [Mike] Babcock knows what he's doing behind the bench, so I know they'll find a way to replace him in some way. You can't really replace Lidstrom, but I'm sure they'll be an elite team again."