A few reasons why the Chicago Blackhawks are in trouble.

A few reasons why the Chicago Blackhawks are in trouble.

When Joel Quenneville felt the need to fire Mike Haviland, and then follow up with comments on the dysfunction of the coaching staff, you knew things were getting bad. It was nice to get some validation for critiquing the coaching for the past couple years, but this seemed even worse than my assessments felt.

Then, we get the news about Patrick Kane running amuck. Amidst calls for his trade based on his overall team contribution and scoring production from a guy in his pay-scale, the kid goes out to party just days after getting knocked out of the playoffs. This partying lead to the choking of a girl, passing out in bars, and yelling anti-semetic slurs, just to name a few. The administration has remained awfully quiet on the matter, which has caused a lot of talk around Madison Street.

While Kane passes out in bars and gets kicked out of others around Chicago, many of his teammates went on to play some more puck in the IIHF World Championships. And wouldn't you know it, Keith is lighting it up. There has been a lot said in a short time about the domination Keith is displaying in the tournament, and I hope it brings some cheery news in the wake of so much disappointing news. Keith is joined by Patrick Sharp, and Andrew Ladd. Hjalmarsson is playing for Sweden and also looks like a healthy contributor, and Frolik is playing for the Czech Republic.

Back to the coaching situation:

Here is a quote from Q himself, "I probably could have been better as far as delegating ice time as far as what was merited or warranted," he said. "When I see the effectiveness of it, whether you're watching the Rangers playing or Washington playing, that's where I think our team can be better and more competitive come playoff time, where you earn it, you get it, you deserve it. Going forward, that's for sure a mistake I made and I'm going to learn from that."

Most of what Q has said over these past couple of weeks comes off too much like nonsense to me. He seems like a guy having a hard time making any sense at all, and a veteran coach not knowing how to coach correctly. he is lost, because he has no strategy to rely on. Talent in the roster is the only thing that gets him by. Lets get something straight, Haviland was considered one of the top assistants in the league. It was just last year that he was a finalist for the Winnipeg Jets' head coaching vacancy.

Haviland also is beloved by the players, being their go-to coach for issues. Haviland started off as the head coach of the Hawks' American Hockey League affiliates, playing a key role in several players' development.

Sources indicated that some players will definitely be bothered by his firing.

Quenneville appeared to recognize this:

"I think our team we have some guys that have been here a long time as well, whether that change is good or bad, I think one thing as players you have to move forward," Quenneville said. "That's part of the process as well."

Q is insistent on taking the blame away from Mike Kitchen, even though most evidence points to him as being the main source for criticism.

If Q does not even have control over himself and his assistants, how can we expect him to have control over his players, and especially Kaner? If Mike Haviland was known to be one of the liked faces on the bench, how will Q establish this control now? It seems as though the hole has been dug even deeper, and it has this Hawks fan doubting next year's results. Honestly, I can care less who Q brings into replace Havi. It will not matter until Q is removed from his post.

Forgetting Kane for a moment, what about Carcillo? I can not help but feel disgusted about his position within the administration. How can we condemn Raffi Torres for playing the way he does, when we are okay with having Carcillo on the roster? They are both basically cut from the same mold. And, how is Q going to control him?

Looking at what a guy like Fraser is doing for the Kings right now, it only offers more questions about Q's ability to manage his talent right, and everyone's ability to asses those talents. Look at what Keith is doing in the big tournament, no longer under Q's management.

Lets use the Kings for another reflection, shall we:

Jonathan Quick just recorded a shut-out against the Yotes last night. He has bested the amazing Mike Smith in 2 games, who got the better half of Rinne in the series prior. All of the teams left in the playoffs currently, have top-notch goaltending. This is the year of the goalie, and we all watched Thomas raise the Cup last year. I am not in the camp of "goaltenders win Cups," but they sure as hell help.

Can the Hawks really be a contender with Crawford, who is most likely better suited for the back-up position?

My feelings have not really changed since the middle of this season. I still think Q needs to go, and I still think the Hawks have enough talent to be a really great team. I now believe that trading Kaner might be the best approach to offer some of that change. He will not become the player we want him to be under Q this next season, and I doubt he has another one to prove himself at this point. Kane has shown me what his priorities are, and it is not playing better hockey.

And so, I side with the solution towards the trading of Kane. It would be a good idea for the Hawks to do some serious goaltending shopping, and power-forward (Ladd-like) shopping. In fact, I offer 3 changes to the roster. 1 new goaltender, 1 new power-forward, and 1 new 2nd pairing physical D-man. Insert new coaching philosophy and the Hawks are looking at a deep playoff run next year. The moving of Kane opens up a lot of options in payroll.

More to follow in some player evals and season reviews.

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  • Several issues here. The main one was whether Haviland was responsible for the bottom of the league power play.

    Then there was all the messing with the roster for salary cap purposes. It looks like they eventually paid Crawford what Neimi would have received, at least if there had been the intention of making a deal instead of going to arbitration that wasn't arbitration (in that, normally, one side can't refuse an arbitration award). One now has to question Stan Bowman's policy of the last two years of getting crusty journeymen veterans on one year contracts.

    Finally, there is the issue of who is in charge of the coaching staff, going from Lovie who is apparently also in charge of the GM, to the White Sox, where Ozzie and Robin essentially had to assume most of the existing staff (Coop being reupped even before Ozzie was gone). Sounds like the Hawks are in the latter situation.

    In any event, Dan Roan will have to find someone else to interview at the end of intermission.

  • In reply to jack:

    Will have more to say later, but check out this link from Fan 590 in Toronto. Scotty Bowman talks playoffs, defense, and who made the decision to allow Q to fire Haviland. The 'hawks stuff starts around 11 minutes in. It totals 16 minutes.

    http://www.fan590.com/media.jsp?content=20120515_180448_1100

  • The IIHF tournament is not an equal comparison to the NHL. It's a different game. No team there has remotely tried to establish the defensive choking and physically pounding game that teams like the Yotes employed. Keith's performance there is worth talking about, but context is also important.

    FF, that link was great. Thanks. While it is undeniable that few teams work as hard as the Yotes do, Bowman hit on something with the way they play. To me, what PHX does is just build a moat. They have a big goalie who take up a lot of space, and then the other guys become human sandbags. LA, thankfully, is exposing them for the limited team they are. LA is what PHX might be if it had talent instead of bully douchebags. That said, what has happened in the west this year is going to affect it likely even more next year.

    Which makes me think the Hawks could be in bigger trouble then I pictured. Complaining about Q or taking the attitude that the season is already over before it even starts is something I'm going to avoid if for no other reason then I don't want to pick another team. We are stuck with Q and that Bowman link kinda makes that clear. I think the best teams keep evolving and the Hawks have not done that. They haven't gotten bigger, they haven't gotten better defensively, and they haven't yet taken a risk in moving a core player to better balance the whole team. This summer, probably even more then last summer, Bowman needs to step up and make some meaningful roster changes.

    As for Q, it's his show. I don't see him as a complete moron, but neither do I see him as someone who did the best he could with the hand he was dealt. He lost a lot of heart from the team after the cup, and then with a marginally better team this year, he got a little further. Can he learn from his mistakes? I'm pretty sure the consensus will be no, he can't. But for now, I'm going to try and not freak out about this.

  • Here's another interview with Scotty Bowman from this morning.

    http://www.teamradio.ca/podcast/team_interviews/ScottyBowman_with_SekeresAndPrice_May17~.mp3

  • Well, he reiterated several things there I think are important. In both interviews, he talked about how the game has changed and how back in his day, you had the forwards up near the blue line on breakouts, which is something we have bitched about the Hawks doing all year instead of coming down lower to help with a breakout or help out defensively. He also talked about how getting rid of the two line pass opened up the stretch pass and how he thinks that is effective when you have a well coached defensive core. Setting aside whether it was good coaching or not, the Hawks in 20009-10 were exactly that team. Q may still be an idiot I guess, but it seems to me he's not the only way who was thinking that way.

    Scotty talked in both interviews about how coaches like Tippet have solved the dilemma of skilled offense by just protecting the house. It negates the point man and basically makes it a 5 on 3 in favor of the defense. Additionally, in the entire western conference, it seems teams have figured out how to beat the Hawks. Either establish a strong forecheck that players like Keith and Leddy don't deal well with, or just fall back and start tripping the Hawks up in the neutral zone and keep collapsing back to the house. My burning question is this, does Q preach to keep attempting something that doesn't work, or do his forwards not want to adapt?

    If Tippet could figure out the way to be anti goal and Sutter can figure out a way to create a can opener to Tippet's defensive strategy, I wonder if it's possible for Q and Jr. to figure out the right players and system. Regardless of system, one thing that LA is right now that the Hawks were not is relentless. Nothing made me smile more last night then watching the camera catch Tippet tersely muttering "Fuck Me!" when LA tied it up. The Yotes cannot take what they dish out.

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