Vinnie Hinostroza enjoys mini-reunion in Rockford with Blackhawks on bye

Vinnie Hinostroza enjoys mini-reunion in Rockford with Blackhawks on bye

ROCKFORD – For Vinnie Hinostroza, this is going to be a fun week.

Oh, his time with the Blackhawks is going well. He got back into the lineup a few games ago and was part of the team closing out their road trip with a five-game winning streak. But Hinostroza had some good times while with the IceHogs. So for this week, at least, he'll enjoy his time catching up, practicing – and perhaps playing – with some friends.

Hinostroza, Tanner Kero, Nick Schmaltz and Gustav Forsling were sent to Rockford on Sunday, when the Blackhawks entered their bye week. The four were sent there, in part for cap-space reasons. According to CapFriendly, the Blackhawks saved $17,680 per day – an additional $477,360 in deadline cap space if those players stay in Rockford for the week.

[SHOP: Gear up, Blackhawks fans!]

The four were part of the IceHogs' practice on Tuesday. Whether they play against Cleveland on Wednesday morning, was unknown as of that afternoon.

"Not sure yet. I've got to get some direction from Stan [Bowman] in Chicago," Rockford coach Ted Dent said of the Blackhawks' general manager. "Obviously we have a lot of bodies now, so we just have to figure it out [Tuesday night] before the morning."

Hinostroza believed he could be playing in Wednesday's game, which has a 10:30 a.m. start. "I don't think I've done that since Pee Wees," he said. Whether or not he plays, however, Hinostroza will enjoy the time with his former IceHogs teammates.

"Getting back here, I'm happy," Hinostroza said. "It was so much fun last year with these guys. Everyone's smiling and having a good time. Come down here, practice, grab some dinner, see a movie. It's just great to be able to catch up with these guys."

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.