Hawk Talk: Just OK isn't good enough

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Hawk Talk: Just OK isn't good enough

Wednesday, March 30, 2011
Posted: 6:00 p.m.

By Tracey Myers
CSNChicago.com

The first two words in the Boston Heralds story regarding Tuesday nights Bruins-Blackhawks game said it all.

No complacency.

According to the Herald, thats the Bruins mantra right now, regardless of the playoff berth they already gained last weekend. No quit, no stop, no pause in the pursuit of points. And on Tuesday night, it looked like the Bruins were taking that to heart with their 3-0 victory.

The Blackhawks, meanwhile, were missing the fire and determination their coach was hoping to get for a second consecutive night; they had, after all, showed plenty of it in their overtime victory in Detroit on Monday. As a result, the Blackhawks made no headway in their push for a better spot in the Western Conference playoff race.

No, for all the chatter that apparently came from the Hawks bench as a bloodied Shawn Thornton exited, there was no noise where on the ice where it mattered most. The Blackhawks, save Corey Crawfords and some defensemens especially Brent Seabrooks hard work, were quiet. They werent winning the battles. They werent making it tough enough on Boston goalie Tim Thomas. They werent where they needed to be, which is determined to get some points, any points, out of their Beantown visit.

Maybe the Blackhawks suffered from fatigue after Mondays game. Players said absolutely not and coach Joel Quenneville gave me the succinct head shake when I suggested it in the post-game interview. Certainly its no excuse, especially at this point of the season and especially with whats at stake. As defenseman Duncan Keith told the Chicago Tribunes Chris Kuc late Tuesday if its too hard to play two games in a row we probably shouldnt be in the NHL.

The Blackhawks have made things harder on themselves lately. After their stellar eight-game winning streak, theyve been back to being just streaky (4-4-2 in their last 10). The great victories (vs. San Jose, Detroit and Phoenix) have been tempered by the awful losses (Florida and Dallas) and missed opportunities (vs. Anaheim). Its been one step forward, two steps well, maybe not back, but definitely not forward, either. As Brian Campbell said of the last few games, our week was OK, and OK isnt good enough.

Throughout this latest roller-coaster ride, the Blackhawks have said all the right things. These games are big. These points are big. But the words havent translated into on-ice play enough. Yes, theyve had injuries and certainly miss the services of Dave Bolland (concussion) and Patrick Sharp (left knee). But its late Marchearly April. Every NHL team has injuries right now.

Despite not playing again until Friday, the Blackhawks will hold onto eighth place. Thats the kind ofsort of good news. Now for the not-so-good news: Teams such as Nashville and Anaheim can pull further ahead of them and Calgary and Dallas could get closer to catching them.

Complacency, lack of urgency, no matter the term its taboo for playoff-hopeful hockey teams this time of year. The Blackhawks have six games remaining to secure a playoff berth and make a statement in the process. That statement needs to be reminiscent of Mondays hard work, not Tuesdays lack thereof.

Tracey Myers is CSNChicago.com's Blackhawks Insider. Follow Tracey on Twitter @TramyersCSN for up-to-the-minute Hawks information.

Blackhawks make another change, fire Rockford coach Ted Dent

Blackhawks make another change, fire Rockford coach Ted Dent

Ted Dent was another longstanding member of the Blackhawks' organization. On Tuesday, he was the latest to be let go.

Dent, head coach of the Rockford IceHogs for the past six seasons, was fired on Tuesday morning. Dent spent a total of 11 years in the organization; he was the IceHogs' assistant coach for five seasons before taking the head coaching job for the 2011-12 season.

Just over a year ago, the Blackhawks gave Dent a three-year contract extension that was set to run through the end of the 2018-19 season.

"The Chicago Blackhawks thank Ted for all of his contributions throughout his tenure with the organization," Blackhawks general Manager Stan Bowman said. "He played a major role in helping a number of players reach the NHL level with the Chicago Blackhawks, many of whom became Stanley Cup champions. We wish Ted and his family the best."

The IceHogs didn't have the depth this season they had in previous years, and they struggled all season en route to a 25-39-9-3 record. The struggles got worse after the March 1 trade deadline, when the Blackhawks sent Spencer Abbott and Sam Carrick to the San Diego Gulls (Anaheim Ducks AHL affiliate). At the time, Abbott led the IceHogs in points with 35 (15 goals, 20 assists) and Carrick was second with 28 points (11 goals 17 assists).

After the two were traded, the IceHogs went 4-12-1.

It's the second consecutive day in which the Blackhawks fired a member of their organization's coaching staff. Mike Kitchen, the Blackhawks' assistant coach since 2010, was fired on Monday. Kitchen and head coach Joel Quenneville have been friends going back to their NHL playing days, when the two were teammates with the Colorado Rockies and the New Jersey Devils. Kitchen was also part of Quenneville's coaching staff in St. Louis.

Blackhawks fire assistant coach Mike Kitchen

Blackhawks fire assistant coach Mike Kitchen

When Blackhawks general manager Stan Bowman addressed the media on Saturday, he said that there would be change. That started on Monday when assistant coach Mike Kitchen was fired.

The move came five days after the Blackhawks were swept out of the first round by the Nashville Predators. Bowman said in a statement that, “we believe this decision is best for our organization moving forward. Mike had an impact on two different Stanley Cup championship teams during his tenure in Chicago. We appreciate his many contributions and wish he and his family success in the future.”

Kitchen has been a member of coach Joel Quenneville’s staff since 2010. The two go back to their playing days, however, when they were teammates with the Colorado Rockies and also the New Jersey Devils. Kitchen was Quenneville’s assistant when the two were with the St. Louis Blues and when Quenneville was fired as Blues coach midway through the 2003-04 season, Kitchen was promoted to head coach.

As part of the Blackhawks’ staff Kitchen’s focus on special teams, mainly the penalty kill. That kill finished the regular season 24th overall in the league, although that has to come with an asterisk. The penalty kill started the 2016-17 season so poorly that it was never going to get too far out of the basement. It did get stronger as the season wore on, and it was fourth overall during the Blackhawks’ short stay in the playoffs.