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.

Several Blackhawks veterans will sit out vs. Ducks

Several Blackhawks veterans will sit out vs. Ducks

ANAHEIM, Calif. – The Blackhawks have two more regular-season games, with no significant attachment to either. So on Thursday, with the season nearly done, the Blackhawks will rest a few more veterans.

Jonathan Toews, Marian Hossa, Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook are expected to take the night off when the Blackhawks face the Anaheim Ducks on Thursday. Niklas Hjalmarsson will also be out; he's still back in Chicago attending to family matters. The moves give veterans the chance to rest up for the postseason and younger players to show what they can do.

"I mean, if you can skip a game towards the playoffs it's a luxury," Hossa said. "Some guys can get the rest. We have a lot of extra guys, so coaches can make decisions in the first round. They can show the potential, too. So it's a luxury we have right now."

There could be more veterans back in the lineup on Saturday, when the Blackhawks finish the regular season against the Los Angeles Kings.

Gustav Forsling, who the Blackhawks recalled on Wednesday, will draw into the lineup. Forsling had a good start to this season but didn't progress as the Blackhawks hoped he would, prompting a trip to Rockford.

[VIVID SEATS: Get your Blackhawks tickets right here!]

"His best stretch was at camp. It looked like he was going to be one of those guys that could play in all situations, meaningful minutes. Down there, he's played more, and we're probably looking for progression when he does play tonight," coach Joel Quenneville said. "He has an upside to his game, just the way he moves and anticipates and offensively sees and makes plays is a great asset to have. We're looking for that progression. That's the area that, down there we probably didn't see it like we were hoping, but we still think he has all the intangibles to capture."

Meanwhile, Artem Anisimov continues to skate back in Chicago. Quenneville said Anisimov is progressing well but the second-line center will not join the Blackhawks on this final regular-season trip.

Broadcast information

Time: 9 p.m.
TV: CSN
Live Stream: CSNChicago.com
Radio: WGN 720 AM

Blackhawks forward lines

Tomas Jurco-Nick Schmaltz-Richard Panik
Artemi Panarin-Tanner Kero-Patrick Kane
Ryan Hartman-Marcus Kruger-Andrew Desjardins
John Hayden-Dennis Rasmussen-Jordin Tootoo

Defensive pairs 

Johnny Oduya-Gustav Forsling
Brian Campbell-Trevor van Riemsdyk
Michal Rozsival-Michal Kempny

Goaltender

Corey Crawford

Injuries

Artem Anisimov (left leg)

Ducks forward lines

Nick Ritchie-Ryan Getzlaf-Patrick Eaves
Andrew Cogliano-Ryan Kesler-Jakob Silfverberg
Rickard Rakell-Antoine Vermette-Corey Perry
Chris Wagner-Nate Thompson-Logan Shaw

Defensive pairs

Shea Theodore-Brandon Montour
Korbinian Holzer-Josh Manson
Jaycob Megna-Kevin Bieksa

Goaltender

John Gibson

Injuries

Cam Fowler (lower body)

Tanner Kero latest to try and fill Artem Anisimov's skates

Tanner Kero latest to try and fill Artem Anisimov's skates

PITTSBURGH – Tanner Kero's been thrown into a lot of different situations in his time with the Blackhawks, be it third- or fourth-line center or penalty kill.

But with Artem Anisimov out, the second-line center spot has become new top-line, left-wing spot: The Blackhawks will keep trying guys out until they find one that works. Kero's the latest to get that opportunity, and since it worked well on Monday, he'll be there again on Wednesday.

Kero will center Artemi Panarin and Patrick Kane again when the Blackhawks host the Pittsburgh Penguins. The line had a good start to Monday's game against the Lightning in Tampa, scoring the team's first two goals — Kero assisted on Panarin's opener.

Coach Joel Quenneville liked Kero's first go-around there.

"Defensively he's in a good spot — he's usually in a reliable spot in his own end — he made a couple of nice plays offensively and didn't change his game too much," Quenneville said. "It's not easy playing with guys at that next level. It's certainly a great challenge and a great opportunity, so I thought he did a great job, took advantage of it. We'll see how he does going forward but we'll keep him in there for [Wednesday's] game and that gives us some more options."

[VIVID SEATS: Buy Blackhawks tickets]

Learning on the fly can be part of a rookie season, especially when injuries arise. Jonathan Toews said Kero's handled everything well this season.

"Come to think of it, it's one of those little things that maybe goes over my head but he's definitely one of those versatile players who's as consistent as ever," Toews said. "He has, for his age, an incredible level of maturity and he carries that with him wherever he goes. You're seeing offensive improvement, too. He was making some good plays with Bread Man and Kaner. He's showing he can do it all and I think his work ethic and attitude's a source of that success."

Earlier this season Kero was with guys like Ryan Hartman and Vinnie Hinostroza. They were all familiar with each other from their Rockford days, and that showed. Playing with two guys you don't know so well? It's a bit of a challenge, and one the three talk out. But ultimately, Kero said you have to rely on your instincts. 

"You go over things before the game and on the bench, get a feel for what you might want to do. But then you just have to play hockey," Kero said. "You have to trust your game, make plays. You know they're going to make plays with the puck so you try to use your speed and get open and try to go to the net, create space for them and a little traffic in front and try to capitalize on opportunities."

Anisimov will be out another 1-2 weeks. Asked if Anisimov has started skating back in Chicago yet, Quenneville said, "I don't think so but I'm not positive. But he's progressing." Filling Anisimov's skates isn't easy, as evidenced by the Blackhawks' search for his temporary replacement. Kero is the third guy to get that shot, and he took advantage of his first showing.

"Obviously it's a great opportunity to play with two great players," Kero said. "You just try to do everything you can and do the little things right."

Briefly

- Marian Hossa and Duncan Keith didn't practice on Tuesday but both are expected to play against the Penguins.

- Corey Crawford gets the start against Pittsburgh.

- Hartman, scratched after a rough game against the Florida Panthers, is probably back in against the Penguins.