ROCKFORD, Ill. (WTVO/WQRF) — Changes are a constant in professional sports and certainly in the Blackhawks organization, but two guys will continue to provide stability for the Rockford IceHogs, Derek King and Mark Bernard.
King found out about a week ago that he and his assistant coaches are being retained. He tells me he has a three-year offer to remain as the IceHogs head coach.
“We’re happy. Listen I’ve been around the game. I’ve been in different organizations at different levels whether playing or coaching and the Blackhawks are a class act. They do everything right.”
King has spent the past two full seasons and part of the previous season as the Hogs’ head coach. The IceHogs didn’t make the playoffs King’s first season. COVID-19 denied them a chance at playoff hockey last season and this season. Overall the Hogs under King have been pretty much a .500 team, but King has fulfilled the first requirement of an AHL head coach. Blackhawks V.P.of Hockey Operations/Team Affiliates Mark Bernard says King has done a sound job developing prospects for the parent team the Blackhawks.
“When we’re looking at what results are we can’t always just get into this, the number of points we have or the wins and losses. We have to look at the big picture and what they do overall with the players here. Derek and Anders have done such a phenomenal job of picking up where Jeremy left off when he was called to the Blackhawks a few years back.”
King had his most challenging season this season guiding the IceHogs through the uncertainty of COVID-19 and dealing with a roster that included up to 17 rookies at times, plus players shuffling constantly between Rockford and the Blackhawks’ taxi squad.
“I believe in our staff,” said King. “I have a lot of confidence in them the way we do things here, and I feel we’re probably one of the better staffs in the league.”
The IceHogs coaching staff also includes assistant coach Anders Sorenson and developmental goaltending coach Peter Aubry.
Bernard also brings stability to the IceHogs. The Blackhawks organization has seen plenty of changes from team President Jon McDonough coming and going right on down through the 14 seasons they’ve partnered with the IceHogs. Bernard has been one of the constants. He’s been part of the organization the entire time.
“I love what I do,” said Bernard. “I think sometimes we’re so busy trying to climb the corporate ladder we forget where we are on the ladder and sometimes that’s your best niche. I know I’m a good fit in running this organization.”
Bernard says he’s excited about the young talent that will return to the IceHogs next season. He’s also excited about the Blackhawks taking over the ownership of the franchise, and he’s excited about the thought of fans filling the BMO again next season.