Chicago Blackhawks Assistant Coach Mike Kitchen Fired
By Colin Likas
The Chicago Blackhawks have made their first major change following a disappointing postseason run, with the team firing assistant coach Mike Kitchen on Monday
Chicago Blackhawks fans knew head coach Joel Quenneville was not going anywhere despite a second consecutive first-round setback in the postseason. But after the Blackhawks were ousted by the Predators last week, general manager Stan Bowman had some strong words.
Namely, Bowman suggested anything was up for possible change beyond removing Coach Q from his post. And we’ve quickly arrived at our first change since the GM’s scathing weekend speech.
Assistant coach Mike Kitchen was relieved of his duties late Monday morning. Kitchen had recently finished his seventh season with the team, arriving after the 2010 Stanley Cup win and being part of two more championship runs.
Kitchen was in charge of the penalty kill, and the Blackhawks did not fare terribly well in that department on the season. Granted, the first two weeks or so saw the Blackhawks stop essentially nothing on the PK, denting the percentage for the rest of the season.
But Chicago still finished at 24th in the league (77.7 percent success rate), worst among all teams that qualified for the postseason.
Given that statistic, Kitchen was an easy scapegoat for this disappointing result to the 2016-17 season. If Coach Q wasn’t going to get the heave-ho, at least one of his assistants was. And this could just be the first such move.
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There’s a fair chance Kitchen will be able to find a new job relatively quickly. There are currently three open head coaching positions, and three other spots have recently been filled.
As such, teams may need new assistant coaching staffs — especially the Vegas Golden Knights, who will be working on their first staff under Gerard Gallant. There will certainly be opportunities for Kitchen to be employed again soon, especially given he was part of two Cup-winning teams.
Kitchen could have been given the ax sooner than this, of course. In Gail Kauchak’s feature last year detailing Kitchen’s time with the Blackhawks, the pink slip that was handed to fellow assistant Mike Haviland in 2012 could have gone to Kitchen. Many thought it should have.
Well, that ax finally has fallen. So Q will have at least one hole to fill on his personnel roster for next season. Could there be a shuffling of duties to come as well? That remains to be seen.
Next: Plenty Of Blame, Few Answers After Blackhawks' Loss
And of course, this doesn’t even begin to delve into the possible player changes the roster could see in this offseason. We’ll probably see more of that once the Stanley Cup Playoffs have concluded.