The Chicago Blackhawks made the first move of their offseason on Monday when they cut ties with assistant coach Mike Kitchen, but according to a report, not everyone in the organization was on board with the move.
That includes head coach Joel Quenneville, who was miffed by the decision to fire Kitchen, according to Christopher Hine of the Chicago Tribune:
“Multiple league sources told the Tribune that the decision to fire Kitchen did not originate with Quenneville and that Quenneville was upset by the move. Kitchen’s firing is likely to reignite conflict between Quenneville and the front office over coaching and personnel that existed before the 2013 and 2015 championships helped maintain peace in the organization.”
Kitchen has been an assistant coach with the Blackhawks since the summer of 2010, when he signed on with the team shortly after they had won their first Stanley Cup championship in nearly 50 years. He was on the bench when the Blackhawks won the Stanley Cup in both 2013 and 2015, and was responsible for coaching the Blackhawks’ penalty killing unit and defensive strategies.
After a season that saw the Blackhawks finish with one of the worst penalty killing percentages in the league, it wasn’t a surprise that the axe fell on Kitchen, whose strategies had been criticized by experts after the team got off to one of the worst penalty killing starts in league history.
That conflict between Quenneville and G.M. Stan Bowman has been floating around the rumor mill for quite some time, but after a second consecutive first round exit from the playoffs, it has the potential to cast a pall over what could be a very turbulent offseason for the Blackhawks.
With very little salary cap space and a lot of questions to answer about the construction of their roster, Quenneville and Bowman being at odds with one another could snarl the process and could make for some very contentious times ahead on West Madison.