CHICAGO, IL - FEBRUARY 16: Assistant coach Mike Haviland of the Chicago Blackhawks, acting as head coach in place of Joel Quenneville, who is ill, watches the action with players including Tomas Kopecky #82 and Jake Dowell #28 against the Minnesota Wild at the United Center on February 16, 2011 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
The speculation began last week, but now it's official. Blackhawks assistant GM Kevin Cheveldayoff has beenn hired to be the Winnipeg Whatever's GM, according to ESPN's Pierre LeBrun (A Committed Indian reader by the way, or at least he was once).
I went over Cheveldayoff's qualifications last week when the rumors started that he was the front runner, and this is probably a job he deserved long ago. What this means for the Hawks' front office is a little unclear. It's impossible to know what the assistant GM actually does and advises on and what he doesn't. What we do know is that a viable replacement in the unlikely event that Stan Bowman completely spits up on himself and has to be removed is now gone, and he'll have to go out and find another. But Cheveldayoff's hire was considered pretty nifty, so hopefully the next one will be as well.
There is another possibility that I hadn't gone over last week. There are rumblings, unconfirmed of course because Cheveldayoff hasn't taken the job, that the Winnipeg Who Knows will let him bring in his own head coach, thus firing current coach Craig Ramsay. This is not to be dismissed, because generally GMs like to go with their own guy, and having a coach foisted upon a GM and vice versa rarely works well.
If Ramsay does get the curb, then all of the sudden there is a position available for Hawks assistant coach Mike Haviland. This would be bad news for the Hawks. Everyone loves Havvy, and apparently the only thing keeping him from already having his own team to run is he's not a very good interview. Well, Cheveldayoff has already worked with him for a couple years now, so the need to interview him or for Haviland to wow him in that process doesn't exist. Combine that with Dustin Byfuglien and Andrew Ladd -- the team's captain -- already on the roster and Haviland might look like a very attractive hire who will be immediately welcomed and endorsed by two of the club's leading veterans.
Hawks fans should worry because whatever special teams unit Haviland was running the past couple years really hummed, while the other one struggled. This year it was the power play, which was in the top five all year. Last year it was the penalty kill, which was amongst the best in the league and led in shorthanded goals. Meanwhile, this year the kill struggled awfully and last year the power play was a clown car for most of the regular season. Furthermore, the Hawks one streak of actual excellent play -- the eight-game winning streak in late February and early March -- started when Haviland was filling in for Joel Quenneville while the latter was hospitalized or simply couldn't watch his team anymore, take your pick. The dude has the chops.
It will be a big loss for the Hawks, but Haviland deserves the chance.
Sam Fels is the proprietor of The Committed Indian, an unofficial program for the Blackhawks. You may have seen him hocking the magazine outside the United Center at Gate 3. The program is also available for purchase online. Fels is a lifelong 'Hawks fan and he also writes for Second City Hockey .