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.