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Blackhawks Wed May 09 2012

Quenneville Quashes Talk of Leaving Hawks

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for GB blackhawks icon.pngThe Blackhawks' coaching staff has been doing some shuffling in the wake of the season. Assistant General Manager Marc Bergevin left to take the General Manager job with the Montreal Canadiens and his space was quickly filled by the promotion of Director of Player Personnel Norm Maciver.

In a surprising move a day later, Mike Haviland, who is recognized as one of the top assistant coaches in the NHL, was relieved of his duties, and the Blackhawks are searching for a replacement. Amid the whispers of new leadership and coaching shifts, a story rose to the top that coach Joel Quenneville might be leaving Chicago as well.

There is a conspicuous vacancy in Montreal's staff for a head coach. Bergevin has already begun to recruit old friends like former Blackhawks colleague and current Leafs Director of Player Personnel Rick Dudley, who will likely be the next assistant coach for the Canadiens. A familiar face, Quenneville would be a welcome addition to the staff, and after a season of turmoil, a new challenge with a blank slate could sound tempting.

This isn't the first time the rumor mill conjured stories about Coach Q's fate. In the middle of the nine-game slump this season, speculations circulated that he could be facing termination. His players stood by his side though, and the city cheered him on as the murmurings fell by the wayside, helped along by a clear statement from General Manager Stan Bowman that Quenneville was the man for the job.

Now the tables are turned. The public is asking if Coach Q will move on to new, albeit colder, scenery. But he is proudly standing by his team and his city. Late Tuesday night, the Blackhawks spoke with members of the media via teleconference to clear the air and quell the rumors. In a confident statement, Coach Q said he was excited to be in Chicago and affirmed his faith in the potential of this team to win a championship every year.

Quenneville also took the opportunity to speak frankly on the recent firing of Haviland as a response to what he deemed a dysfunction to the coaching staff. He also defended his decision to keep assistant Mike Kitchen, who was responsible for the power play for much of the season, by citing his success in the previous season and emphasizing that the ultimate decision was not about blaming one staff member for a failure of the team.

Now that some of the tough choices have been made and the franchise has established that Coach Q is not going anywhere, they can get back for their hunt for a new assistant coach.

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