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|Last season, Denis Savard led Chicago to its first 40-win campaign since 2001-02, but the team fell three points shy of a playoff spot.|
"There's probably not a division that has as much experience behind the bench. So it's a heck of a division to match wits with night in and night out."Enter Quenneville (who signed a three-year deal), with a résumé that includes 839 regular-season games and a Jack Adams Award. "He's an experienced coach," said Bowman. "He's had teams with great players like Sakic and Forsberg and these kinds of guys. And he also did a good job last year [in Colorado] with a team that was really banged up and he was able to get them in the playoffs. He's 155 games over .500. That's a confident level that's pretty high." Of course, a naysayer might point out Quenneville has never reached the Stanley Cup finals, let alone won an NHL championship. But you can't argue with what he brings to the table: His teams play solid, two-way hockey and, except for one season in his coaching career, always make the playoffs. And the Hawks desperately want to return to the playoffs for the first time since 2001-02. "The expectations are real high here," said Bowman. "They promised to bring a Stanley Cup here, and they felt maybe I wasn't their guy. It's very well understood," Savard told ESPN.com on Thursday. "The only thing I can say is that last year, I thought I did a heck of a job with our young kids. Eight to 10 rookies in our lineup. "We had a bit of a slow start this year, but I thought the team was on the right track. I guess it goes with the territory," Savard added. "As a coach, you're judged on wins and losses."
How does this affect the young players on this team? Star forwards Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane still aren't at the legal drinking age, but already have a second NHL coach. "There is going to be an adjustment when dealing with young players. It's like a shock," former NHL GM and scout Craig Button told ESPN.com's Scott Burnside.
--Hawks GM Dave Tallon on the team's decision to fire Denis Savard
"We had a real good chat about their expectations and our expectations, etc. It was really good."So it appears the GM and his two young stars are on the same page, which may have not been the case when it came to Tallon and Savard. A source close to the situation told ESPN.com that Savard had planned to start Nikolai Khabibulin (who is on the trade block) in net for the home opener Monday night, but Tallon wanted newly acquired Cristobal Huet to go back in. "We had a meeting about the goaltending situation," said Tallon. "I made a suggestion. I know that's a tough decision for coaches as to who to play. I made a suggestion and left it at that. I never tell a coach who to play; I would never do that. It's none of my business." Pierre LeBrun covers the NHL for ESPN.com.