Sports Outside the Beltway

Chicago Blackhawks fire coach Denis Savard

He was replaced by former Blues and Avalanche head coach, Joel Quennville. From ESPN-

The Chicago Blackhawks fired head coach Denis Savard just four games into the season on Thursday, replacing him with NHL coaching veteran Joel Quenneville.

“I’m disappointed but I guess it’s the nature of the business,” Savard said from his Chicago home Thursday.

Savard, who was in the last year of his contract, was told he’d been fired Thursday morning by general manager Dale Tallon.

The firing of Denis Savard after just four games did not rank as a record for an NHL coaching change.

• Bill Gadsby left the Detroit Red Wings after just two games of the 1969-70 season.

• Fred Glover departed the California Golden Seals after three games at the start of the 1971-72 season and went on to coach 68 games as head coach of the Los Angeles Kings.

• In 2001-02 the Pittsburgh Penguins fired Ivan Hlinka, the first European-born and trained NHL coach (along with Alpo Suhonen who coached in Chicago at the same time) after the Penguins lost the first four games of the season.

• Jacques Demers saw his tenure as head coach of the Montreal Canadiens end after four games at the outset of the 1995-96 season ( indicates Demers coached five games that season).

So there is ample precedent for Chicago’s move. Was the firing a good decision?

The dismissal came hours after the team won its first game by beating Phoenix 4-1. The Blackhawks are now run by owner Rocky Wirtz, and the combination of a slow start and a big public relations push may have led to Savard’s abrupt ouster.

Wirtz took over the team following the death of his father, Bill Wirtz, a little more than a year ago. Since then, he has hired former Chicago Cubs president and marketing guru John McDonough as president. The team has mended fences with former stars such as Bobby Hull, made sure that home games are televised — something Bill Wirtz was opposed to — and allowed Tallon to spend in the free-agent market.


Quenneville, who had been working as a scout for the Blackhawks, coached the Colorado Avalanche from 2005 through 2008 and led the St. Louis Blues for seven seasons (1996-2004). He has a 438-283-118 career record, including a 44-31-7 mark in Colorado last season.

Led by sophomore stars Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane, the Blackhawks have high hopes to make it into the playoffs this season. They lost their first three games before finally winning Wednesday night.

Chicago is both young and talented. Will Quennville make a difference? He was good in St. Louis, but Colorado underacheived under Quennville. So I’m a little skeptical because of it being too early to judge a coach, being its only 4 games into the season.

Pierre LeBrun writes-

In the wake of Thursday’s Denis Savard firing (the worst part of my job is calling a guy like that at home on a day like this), I thought to myself: Here’s an organization that employs the greatest coach of all time in Scotty Bowman.

Why not give him the gig?

“No, no, my coaching days ended six years ago,” Bowman, a senior adviser of hockey operations for the Hawks, told me.

Another reason Bowman may not want to coach- his age. He’s seventy-five-years-old. Very old to be starting a new and stressful job anywhere in professional sports. Maybe more so when you are talking one of America’s biggest cities.

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