No one is pretending that all is well on Planet Blackhawk.
After a nine game losing streak, then another three game losing streak, there are certainly problems at the Madhouse.
The star players haven’t been good enough. Stan Bowman didn’t do enough at the trade deadline. No one is without blame, including head coach Joel Quenneville, who has failed to fix his special teams, either personnel wise or strategy wise.
To say the head coach is on the hot seat is an understatement. Over the last few weeks there have been whispers of “win or else” scenarios for Quenneville. It’s believed by more than a few sources that if the Hawks don’t win at least a round of this years’ playoffs, a change could be made.
Rewind to summer 2011, when the Blackhawks hired Barry Smith, a long time Scotty Bowman assistant coach, as their Director of Player Development. It was a move that came with very little fanfare or publicity. Smith, who will turn 60 in August, spent 11 seasons with Bowman as an assistant coach (1986-87 in Buffalo, 1991-92 with Pittsburgh, and 1991-2002 in Detroit). In that time, he helped Bowman win 4 Stanley Cups. Think it’s safe to say the two are close?
Yesterday, the Blackhawks decided to let Smith on the ice for practice to assist in drills…especially the power play. When asked after practice, Quenneville brushed it off as a another set of eyes at practice. What else is he going to say?
Are the Blackhawks plugging in Quenneville’s replacement right in front of him? Maybe…maybe not, but in this time of doubt and uncertainty, it’s not time to even allow that question to be asked. The Blackhawks (especially John McDonough) are very aware of public perception. I find it hard to believe they simply didn’t consider the questions that would arise with Smith’s presence. This is a public vote of no confidence, whether the Hawks intended it or not.
Regardless of the intention, Smith’s presence on the ice shows who is likely calling the shots…Scotty Bowman. I certainly don’t have a problem with that, but I hope Team Bowman is truly trying to help Q win. It certainly didn’t seem that way at the trade deadline.