CHICAGO – Mike Haviland was fired Tuesday as an assistant coach for the Chicago Blackhawks after coach Joel Quenneville determined there was some “dysfunction” on the staff last season.
Chicago was eliminated in the first round of the playoffs for a second straight season after winning the Stanley Cup in 2010. Quenneville met with general manager Stan Bowman after the season ended with a six-game, opening-round playoff loss to the Coyotes and was given the opportunity to make coaching changes, if necessary.
“I felt a change was necessary going forward, not an easy decision,” Quenneville said. “It was tough on Mike. … It’s not the blame game here.”
Haviland has spent the last four seasons as an assistant, joining the staff in July 2008, a little more than two months before Quenneville became head coach. Haviland also coached the team’s American Hockey League affiliates in Norfolk, Va., from 2005-07 and Rockford from 2007-08.
The Blackhawks finished fourth in the Central Division with 101 points but were eliminated by Phoenix, the Pacific Division champion. The Chicago power play scored just 42 times in 82 games (15.2 per cent), 24th in the 30-team NHL. The penalty kill ranked 27th, allowing goals on 21.9 per cent of opposing chances.
Quenneville said Haviland started the season in charge of the power play but a switch was made and it became the responsibility of assistant coach Mike Kitchen, who took the brunt of criticism for its ineffectiveness. Kitchen was an assistant under Quenneville in St. Louis and they were teammates in Colorado and New Jersey.
“It’s not about Kitch. It’s about us as a team making our power play better collectively. This is not blaming Havy, either,” Quenneville said.
Quenneville said he also shouldered much of the blame for the disappointing season, especially the way he doled out ice time. He said the team underachieved.
Quenneville said he has no timetable for finding a replacement for Haviland, but that he expects it to be his decision.
As far as his own future, Quenneville brushed off speculation that he might be leaving to join former Blackhawks executive Marc Bergevin, who just became GM of the Montreal Canadiens.
“I’m excited about being here in Chicago,. I love the opportunity, love the organization and love where we are headed in the future,” said Quenneville, who is under contract for two more seasons.