When you look back at the last 6 seasons of Chicago Blackhawks hockey there has been two men behind the bench and when looking back you have to be thankful that both of those men coached the team at the stage of growth the Hawks were in at that time.
Denis Savard coached the Chicago Blackhawks from 2006-2008 and when looking back thankfully he did! The Hawks were an extremely young team come 2007 with two of it’s up and coming superstars were not even 21. The Hawks were full of young stars that would become the core of two Stanley Cup teams so there were speed bumps along the way, but with Denis Savard behind the bench the young Blackhawks were able to learn on the fly.
The young Blackhawks played under fire and although mistakes would be made they never had to deal with mind games from Savard. Savard was a mistro on the offensive end as a Hall of Fame player so getting pucks in the net was always the #1 plan. If an assignment was missed it wouldn’t mean a healthy scratch the next night or two. The young Hawks were not superstars but young NHL players with tons of potential that were allowed to play and figure things out with experience on the ice not in the press box or at the end of the bench in the doghouse.
Flashforward to 2013 and the Hawks have 2 Stanley Cups and those youngsters have not missed the playoffs since that 2007-2008 season and those kids now are veterans in there mid 20’s. They learned their craft on the ice and now are established stars in the NHL The coach now as we all know is Joel Quenneville and he is not a learn your craft on the ice coach. Quenenville is not what someone would call youth friendly.
Last season the only reason Brandon Saad was in the lineup was the fact that Daniel Carcillo was injured on opening night. Saad didn’t produce any significant points though playing well in his first 8 games until the stat sheet started filling up. If Quenneville had any other capable veteran option at the time Saad would have seen some healthy scratches last season.
This season the Blackhawks have three youngsters in Brandon Pirri, Ben Smith, and Jeremy Morin on the team and all of those guys have felt the wrath of Coach Q and his dis-trust in youngsters. Pirri had to start on the 4th line and only an extended injury to Michal Handzus got him up to 2nd line center. Ben Smith is stuck on the 4th line while Jeremy Morin missed an assignment and hasn’t seen the ice since.
The Blackhawks are team shooting for a repeat of Stanley Cup so of course the little defensive things matter for Joel Quenneville more than they did 6 or 7 seasons ago, but having Q behind the bench means growth from the next batch of young stars could be hindered. The biggest question may not even be this season, but in the very near future when Teavu Teravainen and Phillip Danault reach the Windy City. The coaching staff will have another offensive superstar in the making with Teravainen but how long will they make him suffer through benchings and scratches for a missed defensive assignment. The staff already told Danault to become a Kruger, but one would think Danault ceiling would be higher than just to shoot for a 4th line center.
So in the end it seems like everything fell into place for the Blackhawks since they drafted Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane in back to back drafts especially behind the bench where the ice time and offensive coaching was needed, Denis Savard was there to guide the young Hawks instead of cracking the whip on them.