Hawks still soul-searching after humiliation

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Hawks still soul-searching after humiliation

Friday, March 18, 2011
Posted 8:08 p.m.

By Tracey Myers
CSNChicago.com

GLENDALE, Ariz. Joel Quenneville couldnt figure it out. Neither could Jonathan Toews. Nobody could, really.

Minutes after suffering their worst loss of the season, all standings and precious-points-needed considered, several members of the Chicago Blackhawks were at a loss to figure out why their effort against the Dallas Stars was so bad.

Or why it was not there at all.

Im not a psychologist. I dont know why we decided to pack it in like that, Toews said after the lopsided 5-0 loss. Im not pointing fingers at anyone, including myself. Our best players have to be our best players and we werent tonight. And everyone followed suit.

On Thursday morning both the Blackhawks and Stars said about the same thing. It was a big game on Thursday night. There was a lot riding on that game. Problem is, only one team actually showed that on the ice.

Its one game, an important one and we didnt give ourselves a chance to get in. Thats the tough part, Quenneville said. We go back to the Calgary game a while ago. We were flat and not competing. Tonight, its tough to give a good answer why.

Now if Quenneville was talking about that terrible loss in Calgary in November, theres some excuse. The Blackhawks were still finding their way, still getting used to a lot of new pieces in their post-Cup reconstruction puzzle. If he was talking about the last loss in Calgary, it was a poor effort just days after the Blackhawks played one of their best against Vancouver, despite losing 4-3.

If the Blackhawks lose to Dallas like they did in Vancouver in early February, they could probably live with it. They wouldve lost the good fight, lost trying to the end. But thats not how Thursday went. It was one sided from the start, with the Blackhawks showing more frustration than fight.

As defenseman Brent Seabrook said we just werent very good tonight, right from the start. We didnt come out hungry enough.

True. But why that hunger was absent was a mystery.

This is not the way we wanted to start this (road trip), especially when we have a lot of time and rest between games. Theres no excuse for that, Toews said. We shouldnt forget about this one too quick.

So how do the Blackhawks respond to Thursdays letdown? Do they think about it? Do they get it out of their heads as quickly as possible? One way or another, do they learn from it?

Were going to be in the desert a couple days to dwell on this, Marty Turco said. Im not sure how itll pan out, but Im pretty sure by the drop of the puck Sunday, its going to be a different team (game) from us.

The Blackhawks will end Friday night as they did Thursday, sitting seventh in the Western Conference. Vancouver hosts Phoenix tonight, but those two teams that are already ahead of the Blackhawks in the standings. The nail biting begins again on Saturday, with a full slate of fellow conference scratchers and clawers playing.

There was no good explanation for Thursdays mess. There does, however, have to be a strong response to it.

A couple of guys consider themselves leaders of this team, whether they wear a letter or not, and we werent good enough tonight, Toews said. Those guys, and we know who we are, will respond. And the rest of the guys will follow. Thats how our team works.

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.