The Chicago Blackhawks said changes were coming after a disappointing end to the 2016-17 season. The first domino fell Monday with the firing of assistant coach Mike Kitchen.
The team announced Kitchen had been relieved of his duties on Twitter Monday just before noon.
Assistant Coach Mike Kitchen has been relieved of his coaching duties. #Blackhawks
— Chicago Blackhawks (@NHLBlackhawks) April 24, 2017
“We believe this decision is best for our organization moving forward,” Blackhawks GM Stan Bowman said in a statement. “We appreciate his many contributions.”
Kitchen joined the Blackhawks in 2010 after the team won the Stanley Cup the postseason prior. His tenure ends with the team after seven seasons as Joel Quenneville’s assistant and two additional Stanley Cup championships in 2013 and 2015.
Kitchen oversaw Chicago’s defensive group and penalty kill. The penalty kill was exposed early in the season and finished 24th in the NHL last season. The Blackhawks defensemen were grossly out-played in the playoffs.
The Blackhawks were bounced out of the postseason in the first round for the second straight year at the hands of a division rival. However, this most recent series against the Nashville Predators was a bad stretch of play at the least and an utter embarrassment at most.
It’s clear the front office has identified at least one scapegoat for the disappointing finish. Quenneville and Kitchen also worked together with the St. Louis Blues from 1998-2003, so this decision might’ve come from Bowman.
We’ll see if there are more changes to come during what should be an interesting offseason.