(CBS) Two months after an eyebrow-raising firing of assistant coach Mike Kitchen, Blackhawks general manager Stan Bowman emphasized that he has a quality working relationship with coach Joel Quenneville, who considered Kitchen one of his closest confidantes.
Quenneville and Kitchen had been close since they were teammates in their playing days, and Kitchen had worked in Chicago since July 2010, assisting the Blackhawks as they won two more Stanley Cups after that. Quenneville was “upset” by the firing of Kitchen, according to the Tribune, a point Bowman didn’t deny in an interview with Brian Hanley and Barry Rozner on 670 The Score on Friday morning.
But Bowman also wanted to emphasize that any hard feelings between he and Quenneville are in the past.
“My relationship with Joel is excellent,” Bowman said in an interview with Brian Hanley and Barry Rozner on 670 The Score on Friday morning. “I think anytime you’re working with somebody, you’re not going to agree on every single thing. And I think that’s OK, though. Change is good.
“I respect the fact that he’s known Mike Kitchen a long time, and Mike was a very good coach for us for a number of years, and we had some success together. But sometimes, you’re looking for something different. Sometimes you have to make tough decisions. I respect that Joel feels that way, but I think we’ve turned the page on that. We’ve got some excellent coaches in here — Ulf Samuelsson and Don Granato. We have a new look this year because we have an additional coach. I’ve been very impressed in my discussions with both Ulf and with Don. They’re going to bring some different things to the table. I think we’ve enhanced our coaching group this year. We have some new ideas. We have some fresh looks. These guys have coached in different situations, so they bring some different concepts to the group. I think that’s something we’re looking for. We’re looking to be better than we were, and sometimes you have to bring in some different voices to help spark some new ideas. So from that perspective, I’m really optimistic heading into next season.”
Ahead of the Blackhawks’ fan convention starting Friday, Bowman expressed optimism with an offseason that included a blockbuster trade of Artemi Panarin to Columbus that brought Brandon Saad back to Chicago and a deal that sent stalwart defenseman Niklas Hjalmarsson to Arizona for younger players.
“We did some moves looking forward to next year,” Bowman said. “You know, I think sometimes change is good, and I know it’s difficult for a lot of people to process at all and I think understand some of the moves that made, but we’re looking ahead to try to be better. I think everything we’ve done, we’ve had our eye on trying to improve. We’re hungry to get back on the ice and chase the Stanley Cup.”
Listen to Bowman’s full interview below.