The frustration felt in Chicago over the Blackhawks’ disappointing playoff series has reverberated down to the Rockford IceHogs. The Blackhawks have fired IceHogs head coach Ted Dent.
Everyone knew changes would be coming in the Blackhawks organization after the Blackhawks embarassing showing against the Predators. Blackhawks GM Stan Bowman made his frustration clear in a postseason press conference last Saturday.
“We’re very, very unhappy and it’s unacceptable,” said Bowman. “There’s going to be change.”
The changes began Monday with the firing of Blackhawks assistant coach Mike Kitchen. They’ve continued now with the decision to replace Dent. It was a disappointing season for the IceHogs..their worst since joining the AHL. They finished in last place 14 games under .500. Dent expressed his disappointment last week.
“It was a tough year. I think we underachieved to a certain extent with the group we started with, but I guess we all learn as we go and try and draw from our experiences,” said Dent.
The low point came in two days at the end of February and the first of March when the Blackhawks made two trades dealing away the IceHogs’ top three scorers Spencer Abbott, Sam Carrick and Mark McNeill and getting little in return to help the IceHogs. Dent was disappointed by the moves and he might have crossed a line with management when he remarked then that the team’s roster seemed to have been dismantled.
“It’s not every day you lose three of your top six forwards. We’ve traditionally lost players at the deadline. We’ve never really gained anybody,” said Dent. “Chicago sort of dismantled our team.”
In Dent’s six seasons as the IceHogs’ head coach this past season was the team’s only losing season. The IceHogs made the playoffs twice.
While the goal in Rockford is always to try to win and contend for championships, the primary function of the IceHogs and Dent has been to develop talent for the Blackhawks. Dent knew that and he tried to juggle the two aspects as best as he could.
“It’s been the same model here since I’ve been the head coach as far as the whole development model and the education we try to provide these players so they can get on to the next level,” said Dent last week.
It was just last April that the Blackhawks gave Dent a three-year contract extension.
Eyewitness News reach out to Dent Tuesday following the announcement of the firing but he had no comment at that time.