There may be trouble in paradise.
After winning an extremely impressive three Stanley Cup Championships the relationship between Blackhawks head coach Joel Quenneville and Blackhawks general manager Stan Bowman seemed all well and good.
However on Monday Bowman made the decision to terminate assistant coach Mike Kitchen after the Blackhawks suffered a frankly embarrassing first round defeat at the hands of the Nashville Predators, and that decision may not be sitting well with Quenneville.
Multiple league sources told the Tribune the decision to fire Kitchen did not originate with Quenneville and that Quenneville was upset and surprised by the move. Kitchen’s firing is likely to re-ignite conflict between Quenneville and Bowman and the rest of the front office, conflict over coaching and personnel that existed before the Hawks won Cups in 2013 and 2015, two championships that helped maintain peace in the organization.
Sources said Bowman likely fired Kitchen to re-assert authority over personnel in the Hawks organization and send everyone a message, including Quenneville, going into next season. Bowman said Saturday Quenneville, who has a contract through the 2019-20 season, would return as coach.
Bowman’s decision to fire Kitchen was also likely a move in self-preservation to pacify a demand for change coming from the upper reaches of the Hawks organization, such as President John McDonough.
Quenneville and Bowman are almost inarguably the most successful active coach and general manager combo in the National Hockey League and signs that their previous animosity for one another may be resurfacing is very bad news for the Blackhawks organization.