Savard can’t argue he didn’t get a chance...

Jonathan Willis
October 16 2008 11:39AM

Pierre LeBrun broke the news this morning that the Chicago Blackhawks have fired head coach Denis Savard, fresh off a 4–1 win against Phoenix.

Chicago has a 1-2-1 record, which doesn’t seem like anything to get panicked over (as opposed to, say, the Ducks’ record). Regardless, when a coach is fired four games into a season, there aren’t a lot of possibilities as to why. Savard’s record this season certainly hasn’t been bad enough or prolonged enough to be fired over, so either Wirtz/Tallon/Co are insanely trigger-happy, or something behind the scenes led to this.

Here’s part of what what Savard had to say:

“The only thing I can say is that last year I thought I did a heck of a job with our young kids. Eight to 10 rookies in our lineup. We had a bit of a slow start this year but I thought the team was on the right track. I guess it goes with the territory. As a coach you're judged on wins and losses."

Blackhawks GM Dave Tallon had the following to say:

"This was an extremely hard day for this organization and for me personally," Tallon said. "Denis is forever a part of our organization. We made a tough decision that we strongly feel is the right one as we continue to evaluate our team and create a championship caliber organization that can sustain success."

Savard took over from fired head coach Trent Yawney midway through 2006–07, and did an excellent job in his only full season with the club, posting a 40-34-8 record with a young club last season. He’s been in the Blackhawks’ organization as either head or assistant coach since his retirement in 1997, and spent all or part of 13 of his 17 seasons as a player with the team, scoring more than 1000 points while in Chicago.

To replace Savard, the Blackhawks have promoted recently hired amateur scout (and ex-Avalanche coach) Joel Quenneville to the head coaching position. Here’s a direct quote from a Darren Dreger article from late last month, reporting the hiring:

If the Blackhawks lose four out of five games, will Denis Savard be looking over his shoulder? Hawks general manager Dale Tallon scoffs at the suggestion. "That's not it at all," Tallon told TSN. "That's not why we brought him in. Joel is here to help me more than anything," Tallon added. Tallon says Quenneville and Savard have talked and there are no issues or concerns.

In retrospect, we can’t say that Tallon lied on the subject either—the Hawks only needed to lose three of four, not four of five.

—Jonathan Willis is the force behind Copper and Blue , and a frequent OilersNation contributor.

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Jonathan Willis is Managing Editor of the Nation Network. He also currently writes for the Edmonton Journal's Cult of Hockey, Grantland, and Hockey Prospectus. His work has appeared at theScore, ESPN and Puck Daddy. He was previously founder and managing editor of Copper & Blue. Contact him at jonathan (dot) willis (at) live (dot) ca.
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#1 Jax&Jess
October 16 2008, 12:14PM
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“Denis is forever a part of our organization."

Apparently not! Al Davis isnt a silent owner in Chicago is he? HAHA.

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#2 Unleaded
October 16 2008, 12:18PM
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So how many more losses for the ducks before the rumors of Savard to Anaheim start popping up?

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#3 Rick
October 16 2008, 12:34PM
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Unleaded; Although I think Savard did a pretty good job with Chicago, certainly good enough that he deserved a longer stay, I don't think he would be a particularily good choice for Anaheim.

Too many ego's and bad attitudes on that team. I don't think he would command enough authority.

Mind you with Brian Burke looking like he is doing all he can to recieve his own pink slip, you never know.

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#4 Chris.
October 16 2008, 01:14PM
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I welcome all news of choas in the front offices of our Western Conference competition. Coaching continuity only makes sence for teams on the rise. I hope Tallon cost his team a few critical wins.

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#5 Chris.
October 16 2008, 01:16PM
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Chaos not choas...

I also welcome news of choas with cheese.

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#6 Jonathan Willis
October 16 2008, 01:23PM
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There may very well be good reason for the firing, but the timing here is atrocious. If the Hawks wanted to go a different direction, they should have pushed Savard out over the summer and let Quenneville have the team out of TC.

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#7 Gord
October 16 2008, 02:53PM
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I was surprised only to the fact they did this after 4 games. I figured Savard would be gome prior to the season starting or after 20 games. You knew something had to be cooking though as a guy like Queneville doesn't take a regional scouting position without some sort of chance of being promoted. This is one of the few instances I feel bad for the coach. Savard had the Hawks playing an exciting brand of hockey that was putting fans in the seats and he got canned for his efforts.

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#8 Vomi
October 16 2008, 04:38PM
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Dale Tallon should also be worried about his job. I hear he's not the one who decided to hire Christobal Huet. And with Bowman and son in the organisation, Tallon has to be expendable.

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#9 Dennis
October 17 2008, 12:02PM
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I think it really goes back to Bowman. The press portrays him as this doddering old genius but there's no doubt that you can't be that successful without having at least cut a few throats along the way and the way I see it is that Savard was the latest one to feel the blade.

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#10 Wanye Gretz
October 17 2008, 02:20PM
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Two words why Savard got the gate:

SCOTTY BOWMAN

Two other words that spring to mind:

COTTON CANDY

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#11 milli
October 19 2008, 11:08AM
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Ya, I gotta say I don't like this. Fire him in the summer and give the job to Quenville. But to say he's our guy, then 4 games in give him the axe???? Pretty raiderlike in my opinion.

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