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Discussion in 'The Mainboard' started by Illinihockey, Apr 9, 2015.
That’s pretty shocking.
at least Dineen got fired. Thats about the only thing they got right today.
This likely gets a lot more worse before it gets better. Im now older than the Hawks coach.
Overdue but wow
Dineen gone as well. Thank god
Youngest coach in NHL history according to ESPN.
I think at some point a new voice is needed. Even when it comes to a hall of famer coach with three cups.
With this now done the heat is all on Bowman. Who he hires to be the full time coach and now his roster moves, contracts take center stage.
has Rockford been playing well? I had not kept up as much.
Think Sikura for sure gets the callup now.
It’s the guy who took over. That’s their guy
Carcillo came out firing on the front office
I'm pretty bummed.
I've always been a "In Stan We Trust" guy, but this is a good read:
What a dumb fucking article. It totally ignores how much of those trades were done because of 1) the salary cap 2) that Q wouldn’t play certain guys 3) ignores that the hawks were in a win now mode when many of them were made. Barstool chief is a Q apologist. Also he acts like all of those players that were traded landed on the hawks by magic and doesn’t recognize the GM he’s killing drafted most of them.
It really doesn't, though. It lays out what have been some downright horrible moves since 2015. Obviously, Stan is the architect and most of the reason for the three cups. But, that doesn't mean that he hasn't pulled some head-scratching moves since. And, to the extent Q shoulders the blame for those moves, that has to go back on Stan to some degree. After all, that is his job.
Those moves aren’t done in a vacuum though. Bowman didn’t want to trade teuvo and he didn’t want to trade Johns but when you have to dump money you don’t have a choice
The point is that there were other, less disastrous options. Obviously, hindsight is 20/20. Nobody is saying that Stan has been anything but incredible. But, he's had a cold streak. A really, really bad cold streak.
These two sentences don't go together because we don't know what other options were available at the time. We also don't know what a player like Danault becomes under Q. The Hawks were just dumping Daley, what did he think Stan was going to get for him? Also calling Daley a key piece of the Penguins Cup is beyond asinine. Saying the Hawks chose to keep Kruger over Teuvo is just stupid.
Also I can't get over this gem - Panarin has become a legitimate MVP type player. Panarin is an empty calorie scorer that wouldn't have made the Hawks a contender last year and he'll be a free agent next year.
Finally, Hammer is a corpse at this point. I don't know how anyone can look at that trade and not call it at least a draw for the Hawks. Murphy was better than Hjalmarsson last year, he'll be better this year when he comes back and he'll be better in the two years that follow. "Hjalmarsson is a bonafide shut down defenseman" yes he was, 3 years ago.
I don't know what to tell you if you don't think that he's had a ton of losing deals lately. That's pretty much consensus. I guess you can trumpet the inevitability, but most franchises don't hold on to GMs for a decade, either.
Regardless, what's the answer to the $5.4 million he sat on this offseason?
My big issue is the Seabrook deal. That article hand waived that away bc "they had to do it". Uh, no they did not and not at that AAV.
But all this looking back is stupid right now. Games are being played. Lets see if they can get it together and which of the young guys emerge.
Stan has lots to prove and we basically have to ride it out with him.
I think he knows the team is in transition and overpaying some 3rd liner in free agency wasn’t the way to go. Go young and who knows what happens after the lockout
Lazerus wrote a similar (and much better) article for the Athletic that's worth checking out. I suspect you'll disagree with it as well, but it's worth checking out.
I’m not paying to read something he wrote, however if you’d be so kind
Will do when I get back to a computer.
Stan has had a lot of bad deals because he had to cut dollars because he gave out some bad contracts and refused to make tough calls on some guys who led us to cups.
With that said I don’t like that Q is gone and I don’t want to see us run off Stan. But you can’t sit there and defend Stand because it’s his decisions that led to the deals you believe he had to make.
This is where I am.
The league has evolved and Q has not, I don't know why people are sad to see him go. I mean he's an icon, the best coach the Hawks have ever had but its been 10 years. Everyone has a shelf life.
Spoiler: Lazerus Article
Stan and Scotty Bowman won.
The Blackhawks fired the second-winningest coach in NHL history on Tuesday, jettisoning Joel Quenneville after the best 10-year stretch in the history of the franchise. It’s as unthinkable as it was inevitable, the end of a power struggle that has lasted more than six years. And if you have any doubt about that, just look at whom the Blackhawks have named an assistant coach in the wake of the firing of Quenneville and his top two lieutenants, Kevin Dineen and Ulf Samuelsson: Barry Smith.
It was Smith, you might remember, who was foisted upon Quenneville during the 2011-12 season against his wishes, ordered by Bowman to join Quenneville on the ice to work with the anemic power play. Multiple sources said Quenneville was furious and angrily confronted Bowman about it. Smith was reporting back to Bowman directly, and Quenneville strongly resented his presence.
Quenneville was closer to being fired after that season than most people realize, but ultimately held on to his job. Winning two Stanley Cups and 10 playoff series over the next three years cooled Quenneville’s hot seat considerably, but a first-round coin-flip loss to St. Louis in 2016, a first-round sweep against Nashville in 2017, and a last-place finish this past spring all but sealed Quenneville’s fate.
At the end of the 2016-17 season, Bowman fired Quenneville’s best friend and closest confidante, assistant coach Mike Kitchen. In June that year, Bowman traded away Quenneville’s favorite and most trusted player, Niklas Hjalmarsson. That same day, Bowman traded away Quenneville’s second-best offensive weapon (and Patrick Kane’s favorite player), Artemi Panarin. Quenneville famously stormed out of the pre-draft meeting after learning of the Hjalmarsson news.
Bowman had the axe in hand, ready to drop it. An 0-4-1 skid over the past two weeks, even after an encouraging 6-2-2 start, was the opening he needed.
Joel Quenneville won three Stanley Cups with the Blackhawks in a wildly successful decade as head coach. (Patrick Gorski/USA TODAY Sports)
It’s lunacy, sure, but pro hockey, like all sports, is a what-have-you-done-for-me-lately business. And while team president John McDonough respects Quenneville, multiple team sources said he’s always been in Bowman’s camp — correction, the Bowmans’ camp — first and foremost. At 85 years old and living in Tampa Bay, the elder Bowman — the only coach in NHL history with more victories than Quenneville — still holds considerable sway among the Blackhawks brass.
So let’s state what should be obvious: This was the wrong decision. A short-sighted decision. A decision the Blackhawks will regret. Put bluntly, the state of the Blackhawks is not on Quenneville.
Is it Quenneville’s fault the Blackhawks got older and slower? Did Quenneville trade away Hjalmarsson and Panarin in losing deals? Did Quenneville give up Teuvo Teravainen to get out of a year of Bryan Bickell’s onerous contract? Did Quenneville deal away Vinnie Hinostroza just to dump off Marian Hossa’s contract? Did Quenneville swing and miss on the Phil Danault trade to Montreal? Did Quenneville sign a No. 6 defenseman (Brandon Manning) and a 39-year-old forward (Chris Kunitz) in response to the Blackhawks’ worst season in more than a decade? Did Quenneville sit on more than $5 million of cap space this summer rather than spend it on obvious holes in the lineup?
“When you gave Joel Quenneville decent rosters, his players performed and they had success,” one league source told The Athletic. “This is not a decent roster.”
Former Blackhawks forward Daniel Carcillo was blunt in his response to the news on Twitter.
The firing of #Quenneville is nothing more than John McDonough, Stan Bowman & Al MacIsaac’s (Hockey Operations) desperate attempt to save their jobs.
There has always been tension between Joel & the above men mentioned.
Barry Smith is best friends with Scotty Bowman #Blackhawks
9:41 AM - Nov 6, 2018
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#Quenneville deserves better. A mans man.
He was the most respected coach amongst players that I’d ever played for.
If this desperate move doesn’t help the @NHLBlackhawks Hockey Operations ppl will begin to be relieved of their duties next.#Blackhawks
9:28 AM - Nov 6, 2018
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Quenneville and his staff were not blameless. Not by any means. Quenneville has been stubborn with lineup decisions, and the success of defensemen Trevor Daley and Michal Kempny elsewhere are damning. He’s sometimes loyal to veterans to a fault, though recent scratches of Manning and Kunitz suggest he had turned a corner there. He was reluctant to tweak his defensive systems even though the talent he had to work with declined considerably. And Dineen’s power play has been a disaster for two seasons now.
Quenneville’s competitive fire never stopped burning, but even he wondered about his own shelf life.
“We won a lot, we were fortunate,” Quenneville told me in January. “But the message: Does it become too consistent? Does it fall on deaf ears? Do you change your approach? Do you try to be creative? We’ve never been too gimmicky as far as how we do things, as far as the approach and the message. Simple has always been how we like to do it. I don’t want to say we’re getting soft or we’re getting hardened in the way we treat these guys, but I think there’s balance there. When you get upset, you get upset for the right reasons.”
It’s hard to imagine Quenneville falling on deaf ears, though. He was loved and respected in the Blackhawks’ dressing room. An NHLPA players poll conducted last season reported Quenneville was the No. 1 coach players wanted to play for, earning 16.5 percent of the vote. He’s famously stern, but is truly a players’ coach — leaving players to themselves, giving more days off than most coaches, doing everything he can to help them earn performance-based bonuses at the end of the year, cap-implications be damned.
While he was tough, Joel Quenneville was a well-respected players’ coach with the Blackhawks, who just happened to win a lot of games. (Jasen Vinlove/USA TODAY Sports)
But Quenneville is the scapegoat here, and, well, that’s how these things usually go down. As he said whenever his own job security came up, “We’re in the winning business” and “It’s a short-term business.”
“As a coach, it can happen at any moment,” Quenneville said at the fan convention in July. “That’s all part of our business and that’s the way it goes. We’re in the winning business. As a coach, it’s the only way we think is win the next game. That other stuff, we can’t control. We’re fighting to get two points and getting the guys ready to play and playing right, that’s our job. I can’t think of the other things.”
There are always other things. Even the most high-profile jobs involve power struggles, office politics, co-workers covering their own backsides.
It’s hard not to see this as a rash, wrong decision. Quenneville will have another job as soon as he wants one, and it’s easy to imagine the struggling Blues coming to the United Center on Nov. 14 with Quenneville behind the bench. At 60 years old, he has a lot of coaching left in him. Maybe another Stanley Cup or two, as well. Enjoy that visual, Chicago.
But it doesn’t matter now. The Blackhawks are Jeremy Colliton’s team. He’s a bright young coach with terrific potential, and he clearly was being groomed as Quenneville’s replacement. But at 33, he’s the same age as Brent Seabrook, and younger than Duncan Keith, Corey Crawford, Cam Ward and Kunitz.
Who knows, maybe he’ll connect better with the Blackhawks’ youngest players (Don Granato, brought on to the staff last summer for just that purpose, remains on staff). Maybe he’ll be able to coax Nick Schmaltz out of his shell, continue Alex DeBrincat’s development into a superstar, tighten up the patchwork blue line and stop the bleeding before the Blackhawks begin a brutal stretch of 15 games (nine against legitimate Stanley Cup contenders) during Thanksgiving week. Maybe.
Or maybe the Blackhawks will come to regret letting the best coach in team history, maybe the best coach in Chicago sports history, walk out the door.
The dude is 60. He's going to win somewhere else.
Win what? He can get a team to the playoffs but until he came to the Hawks he made the conference finals fewer times than he was fired.
Before Bear Bryant got to Alabama he never won a national title.
Did Quenneville give up Teuvo Teravainen to get out of a year of Bryan Bickell’s onerous contract? Did Quenneville deal away Vinnie Hinostroza just to dump off Marian Hossa’s contract? Did Quenneville swing and miss on the Phil Danault trade to Montreal? Did Quenneville sign a No. 6 defenseman (Brandon Manning) and a 39-year-old forward (Chris Kunitz) in response to the Blackhawks’ worst season in more than a decade? Did Quenneville sit on more than $5 million of cap space this summer rather than spend it on obvious holes in the lineup?
See the answer to this is fucking yes! Quenneville never trusted Teuvo. He fucking scratched him in the playoffs. Q never gave Hinostroza a chance (more perplexing is why are people like Laz and Chief banging the drum about missing Hinostroza?) Same thing with Danault, Q was giving him 4th line minutes or he had him in Rockford. Q is the one that chased off Kempny. This isn't a fluke that players aren't getting minutes with the Hawks so they get traded and then they flourish elsewhere. Q didn't want Nick Leddy, he wanted TVR to get more minutes. Its like people don't actually watch what is going on. This year alone Q scratched Schmaltz, then put him on the 3rd line with 2 plugs instead of keeping him with Kane which was working.
So you're saying when a coach gets put in a perfect situation he can succeed but couldn't do it elsewhere? Pretty much exactly what I'm talking about.
I'm saying that the argument that he didn't win any cups before he won three cups is fucking asinine.
Put it this way. The Hawks have and have had elite, elite offensive talent and their power play has blown for years. Thats coaching.
Do you want to make a bet he won't win a Cup in the next 5 years?
What kind of odds are you giving me? You're taking the field, so I'd expect some pretty heavy odds.
Yes but he's not going to take a job with 75% of the league. Its not like he's going to wake up tomorrow at take the Florida Panthers job. There's what, maybe 8 teams he'd probably go to at this point?
Change of subject, the Winter Classic sweater gets released today.
bruins sweater looks like shit.
Just my final take on the Q/Stan stuff.
You can put blame on both sides. Stan made some shit trades trying to keep a core that needed to be modified. Q in response would play his guys and vets over youth.
From what I’ve read since the firing things haven’t been good between Q and the front office for years. From firing coaches Q wanted to keep to hiring guys he didn’t want. Q not playing guys Stan wanted to get time and back and forth.
When you have the most talented team in the league things like that can be overlooked and you do what you can because you don’t rock the boat.
But we are losing now and clearly the relationship is beyond fixing. It sucks because both are great at what they do and both take blame in the current situation. It just sucks like parents getting divorced you don’t really want to take sides.
Q is a fantastic coach trying to say he wasn’t shit before and won’t be after is just insane. Stop it. Hopefully with a better relationship between front office and the coaching staff we start seeing some youth being called up on this roster and the next run begin in a couple of years
blow it up
Who are the top prospects in the draft?
American Jack Hughes + Finnish Kaapo Kakko + Canadian Dylan Cozens
Time to sell off these vets if possible
Only vets you could sell would be Crawford and Kane
Breakdown: What is Jeremy Colliton doing differently than Joel Quenneville with the Blackhawks?
By Mark Lazerus Nov 13, 2018
To a man, the Blackhawks felt like they outplayed the Carolina Hurricanes on Monday night. Their revamped system was starting to click, the new-look lines were proving effective, and the Blackhawks carried the play for most of the first two periods.
They still lost, 3-2 in overtime.
“It’s all a work in progress,” defenseman Jan Rutta said.
He’s right. In one short week, the Blackhawks have been through quite a lot. They lost their highly respected legend of a coach in Joel Quenneville, and have spent the past eight days trying to absorb as much of new head coach Jeremy Colliton’s system, style and personality as they can. The last thing a hockey player wants to do on the ice is think — it’s all supposed to come naturally, instinctively. But that doesn’t happen overnight. And without the benefit of a training camp, the Blackhawks are forced to accept baby steps while simultaneously trying to salvage their season.
But they can’t accept moral victories for much longer.
“The only thing that gets in the way from us turning the ship around and having a lot of success is if there’s doubt in what we’re doing, if guys stop believing we’re on the right track,” Colliton said. “So that’s our job. That’s the job of the staff and the leadership group, to make sure we continue to believe we’re on the right path. All we’ve got to do is show them the clips, show them the video. It’s pretty clear. We will get it going here.”
So what’s on that video? What’s so different about what the Blackhawks are doing under Colliton compared with what they did under Quenneville? A lot of things — some dramatic, some subtle.
Let’s break down some of the differences:
In the defensive zone
The most glaring difference between Quenneville’s system and Colliton’s is the switch from a zone to a man-to-man defense in the Blackhawks’ own end of the ice. Quenneville, for the most part, wanted defensemen to stay on their own side of the ice, though he started tweaking that this season and allowing them more freedom to roam. Under Colliton, you’ll see much more of that.
“It depends on how the first guy’s doing,” Erik Gustafsson said. “If they dump it on the other guy’s side, and if he gets a pin on that (opposing forward) and stops it, I’m going to come over and help him. But if not, I’ve got to be in front, or pick up some guy who’s coming in.”
One thing Colliton has been harping on is making sure there’s a defenseman in front of the Blackhawks’ goal at nearly all times. One of the Blackhawks’ biggest problems over the past year-plus has been their defensive negligence in front of their own net — opposing forwards have camped out in front of Corey Crawford (or whichever goalie is in net) unchecked, leading to countless Grade-A scoring chances on the doorstep and in the slot.
“It’s automatic,” Henri Jokiharju said. “Doesn’t matter what system you’re defending, you should always have a guy on the net. We’re trying first to win battles in the corner, though, and get a couple guys over there and get the puck and get a quick up.”
Communication is always important on the ice, but in a man-to-man, it’s absolutely critical. If Gustafsson and Jokiharju are playing together (as they were Monday) and the puck is deep on Jokiharju’s side and there’s no forward back yet for support, Gustafsson will swoop across the ice and try to help him get the puck and a clear. But when he does that, he has to communicate to one of the forwards — likely the center, who is typically the first forward back — to take his spot, and his guy.
Because every player has his assignment. That doesn’t mean a player simply shadows one specific player all over the ice, but it does mean a change in the way the Blackhawks think, react and communicate in their own end.
“It’s big,” Jokiharju said. “I have to talk a little more in the games. Sometimes I’m shy to talk on the ice during plays, but after the plays, I talk a lot. I just need to open my mouth a little more on the ice when the play’s going on.”
Gustafsson said that’s not an issue for the 19-year-old Finn, who’s always directing traffic with one hand while skating, anyway.
“He talks, he’s screaming,” Gustafsson said. “He can talk, that guy. He’s always talking. Even if I don’t want him to talk, he’s talking. No, it’s great. He’s an easy guy to play with.”
That goes for the forwards, too, who now have greater urgency to get deep and get the puck out, regardless of position.
“We just need to read off each other,” winger Alex DeBrincat said. “In the D-zone, it’s not necessarily just the center and the ‘D’ in the corner, it’s the first guy to the puck. You get in, try to make a play, get it out of the zone and make sure we’re not giving up anything. Reading off each other and talking to each other is a big thing we need to do to be successful.”
For players steeped in Quenneville’s system, it’s all a pretty drastic change.
“It is what it is,” Rutta said with a chuckle. “I mean, I don’t mind playing one-on-one. I like one-on-one battles. It’s just a change. You’re responsible for your guy, so you’ve got to stay on him, and you’ve got to talk out there a little more. That’s what we want.”
Back in the 2015-16 season, Trevor Daley never really caught on with the Blackhawks. There were many reasons the talented defenseman — who went on to win two straight Stanley Cups with the Penguins after falling out with the Blackhawks — was a square peg in a round hole in Chicago, but the primary one was simple. Quenneville wanted his defensemen to make quick, hard passes out of the defensive zone, and Daley wanted to carry the puck up ice himself.
Well, Daley would love Colliton’s system.
Colliton still wants the Blackhawks to look for the stretch pass when it presents itself, but he prefers his defensemen to skate the puck up the ice and push the other team’s defense back. It makes for easier exits from the defensive zone, and potentially cleaner entries into the offensive zone. “Patience” has been a frequently used word during Blackhawks’ video sessions in the past week
“He wants us to hold on to the puck a little bit more and not to force any play,” Gustafsson said. “If you don’t have anything, you can just stop, or just try to go back. He said (you can) even pass it back to (Crawford) if you don’t have anything. He really wants us to have the puck on our (sticks), and I like it, too. I like to have the puck. … If you have the puck, the other team can’t score on you.”
For players who have been around the Blackhawks a long time, it’s a jarring transition. Those quick outlet passes were a cornerstone of Quenneville’s system. But while Patrick Kane will still make a break for it whenever he sees a potential breakaway develop, there’s sound logic behind giving defensemen more options.
“I think everyone’s first play is to try to get it up the ice as quickly as possible, so we’re still looking for those quick ups,” Kane said. “It’s just that teams are so good at back-pressuring now and getting back in their end, sometimes it’s not there. You can be a little more patient. If it’s not there, don’t force it, and we can get in the zone another way. But yeah, I think that’s something (Colliton’s) really been stressing. Patience is key — if it’s not there, don’t force it. Make clean plays and try to keep the puck flat out there, and we should be on our way with our talent in here.”
In the offensive zone
Here’s where the defense gets to have a little more fun. Quenneville always wanted his defense to join the rush and activate the offense, but Colliton is encouraging the Blackhawks blue-liners to push the pace even further. Over the past few games, you’ve frequently seen Blackhawks defensemen below the dots in the offensive zone, sometimes two at a time if the situation allows for it.
It hasn’t yet translated to a major statistical difference, as the Blackhawks defensemen averaged 10.2 shots on goal per game under Quenneville and have averaged 9.3 shots per game under Colliton, but the hope is the shots — and the goals — will come.
Whether the Blackhawks skate the puck out of their own zone, make a stretch pass, or chip it up the boards to skirt the opposing defenders, Colliton wants everybody moving at full speed as often as possible when entering the offensive zone.
“He wants us to follow up the rush, even if you don’t have the puck or if you pass the puck,” Gustafsson said. “He likes us to always keep our feet going. He wants us to have speed.”
Again, communication is key here. If one or both defensemen find themselves playing along the opposing goal line and nobody’s covering for them, they’re just begging for a breakaway, or an odd-man rush, or even a 2-on-0 the other way.
“You have to be aware of it,” DeBrincat said. “In the offensive zone, there’s no defenseman or forward. You just fill a spot that’s open and try to rotate as much as possible. Obviously, we don’t want both ‘D’ down in the zone, but if it comes to that — if there’s a rotation and he comes low — we’ve got to read it and get a forward up high. That kind of confuses (the opponent), too. If they’re playing a man situation, it really confuses their forwards when they’re down low and their ‘D’ are up high. It can really work out well if it’s executed right.”
It’s all about working as a five-man unit.
“We’re just trying to play more as a group,” Rutta said. “The forwards are doing a hell of a job helping us in our zone to get some clean breakouts, and that makes it easier for us to join the rush and help with the offense.”
Colliton said David Kampf had “an excellent game” Monday against Carolina, but the second-year pro made a costly mistake in overtime. Put on the second trio with Patrick Kane and Brent Seabrook (Jonathan Toews, Nick Schmaltz and Duncan Keith were the first unit), Kampf made an ill-advised spin-o-rama after entering the offensive zone and lost the puck in the process. The Hurricanes scored on their ensuing possession.
Possession is everything in 3-on-3 overtime — it’s why you see so many players double back out of the zone and re-enter if they don’t like what they see — and that was a wasted one for the Blackhawks. There was some sense in putting Kampf on the second unit for a defensive-zone draw, but the fact is, DeBrincat — one of the Blackhawks’ best offensive weapons — didn’t see the ice in overtime, while Kampf did.
Get used to it.
“Part of what we’re looking for is balance in the pairs,” Colliton said. “You want someone who will go to the net. In 3-on-3, it’s underrated (that) you’ve got to go to the net. You’ve got to get a net presence. So we’re trying to pair some skill with someone that will get there. I wouldn’t be surprised if you see something similar going forward.”
As for putting Seabrook with the second unit instead of a more mobile defender such as Jokiharju or Gustafsson — Seabrook committed too early and was turned inside-out by Sebastian Aho on the game-winning goal — Colliton said there’s still a learning process going on. And just because Quenneville did it one way doesn’t mean Colliton will do it the same way.
“We’ve got a lot of guys that can play there,” he said. “It’s our first overtime as a group. We’re not starting over, but we’re not going to go with the same rotation that’s been happening in the past. That’s only natural. It’s one game, and we’ll let it play out.”
Behind the bench
Quenneville was well known for his fiery nature on the bench — cursing at players, at referees, at no one in particular. You often saw him with one foot perched on the bench or even on the boards, arms flailing, tie flapping and spittle flying as he pleaded his case to an official.
Colliton is pretty much the polar opposite.
“I remember from last year (in Rockford), he doesn’t scream or anything on the bench,” Gustafsson said. “We’re probably not going to hear anything from him.”
Colliton does a lot of “coaching up” on the bench, however. He’s frequently been in Schmaltz’s ear between shifts.
“He just kind of harps on things that he wants to see, and little things in the systems that we can do better and just overall, not thinking too much out there,” Schmaltz said. “When you think too much and you try to be perfect and be in the right place, then you get thinking too much and you mess up even more. He just said, ‘Don’t think out there, just play hockey. We know how to play hockey. We’ll teach as we go.'”
In the video room
Quenneville’s meetings and video sessions — like his practices — were always brief and to the point. No wasted time. Colliton’s meetings are lasting quite a bit longer as he works to install his system and instill his mentality into his new players.
“Jeremy has a lot on his mind, so there’s been more video and more talking, but I think that’s good,” Rutta said. “We’ve got to make sure we’re all on the same page, and I think we can be better.”
Brandon Saad chalked up much of the Blackhawks’ disastrous first period at home against Carolina in Colliton’s debut to them thinking too much about what they’re supposed to be doing, rather than simply reacting and playing. It got better Saturday in Philadelphia, and significantly better in the return match against the Hurricanes in Raleigh.
But it’s still a work in progress, so every video clip helps crystalize things in the players’ minds.
“It’s good,” Saad said. “Visually, it’s good to see, and to learn that way. Sometimes, when it’s just explained to you, you hear a few words and you can’t quite pick it up. But you see it throughout games or reviewing film, instances where it was positive or negative. It helps you to learn it quicker.”
Coming off the fathers’ trip and getting back to Chicago late Monday night/early Tuesday morning, Tuesday likely would have been a day off under different circumstances. Certainly under Quenneville. But there’s still so much work to be done, and every minute in the video room is crucial.
“Yeah, that will be a thing,” Colliton said of the extra video sessions. “We know we have to have urgency to improve. That’s what’s going to get us out of this. The better we get as a team, the easier it’s going to be to get our wins. You have to have a little bit of a feel for when to take a meeting, or when to have a video session, or when to have a practice or not. That’s part of a coach’s job, to have your fingers on the pulse. (Tuesday), this is what we felt we had to do.”
After a couple of lengthy practices to start his tenure, each spanning more than an hour, the primary work was completed Tuesday in about 35 minutes. But nearly every player, young and old, stayed on the ice for a while after that. As a few defensemen worked on their shots at one end of the ice, the rest of the team battled in a drill that’s been a staple in Rockford and at development camps over the last two years, but is new to the Blackhawks. Assistant coach Barry Smith supervised.
Basically, it’s a 2-on-2 drill, but with five additional players lined up on either side of the ice, forming a lane as wide as the faceoff dots. Think the Oklahoma drill in football, with the action contained to a narrow strip of the slot. The five players on each side — red on one side, black on the other — served as playmakers for their two guys in the drill, keeping the puck alive and making passes from their spots, with Cam Ward trying to stave everything off. The drill lasted a good 20 minutes, and spirits were high.
“It’s a fun drill, and it’s competitive,” DeBrincat said. “You want to win, no matter what it is, even if it’s just at the end of a practice. It gets our spirits up, our competitiveness up, and our willingness to go to the net and score goals up.”
That upbeat attitude might seem odd for a team on an eight-game losing streak, but the Blackhawks do seem more optimistic than you might expect given their situation. There was a sense of gloom and doom throughout the Western Canada trip that ended Quenneville’s remarkable 10-year run with the Blackhawks. The coaching change, at the very least, has injected some life into the team, even if the results aren’t there just yet.
“Attitude-wise, it might be a little bit more positive,” DeBrincat said of the past week. “Obviously, we’re not happy with what we’re doing right now, but we’re making steps, I think. (Monday night), we could have won that game, definitely.”
In other words, all these changes, all the time spent learning new systems and new terms and new styles of play and re-training their brains — the Blackhawks feel it’s all going somewhere. It’s building to something. Something good.
“Absolutely,” DeBrincat said. “Once we make that turn, I think we can get hot. And it’s still early in the season. You can’t count us out yet.”
So that’s what we’ve learned about Colliton so far. And just what has he learned about the Blackhawks in his first week?
“I’ve learned they want to win,” he said. “I learned they’re extremely open to feedback. They want to get better. They want the video. They want the meetings. They want to talk. They want these ideas. They want to know how we can win — what’s the plan? And it’s right on down the line. The youngest guys I knew that, because I had them in Rockford. But the oldest guys, they’re almost the most excited about talking hockey and how we’re going to turn this around. So that’s been a pleasant surprise, and makes me very excited about the future.”