In what other world would anyone leave Chicago for Winnipeg, no matter the promotion? Think about it. How much of a promotion would you need to leave this city to go live in Manitoba? If it were just your spouse's promotion, how many of use would be all, "Well, we'll still see each other at Christmas!"
But this isn't a normal world this hockey, and it looks like we may watch Mike Haviland make that move, according to Jaeckel at Hockeybuzz. So that's a good day for Winnipeg, getting official confirmation of their team and possibly a head coach. This isn't much of a surprise. Once Kevin Cheveldayoff went to become the GM, I think we all suspected Haviland would be a big candidate going behind their bench. Considering that Andrew Ladd and Dustin Byfuglien are still there, the previous working experience, and that Haviland's apparent biggest weakness -- not being a good interview -- wouldn't matter with a GM he had just spent two years working with.
I'll be honest, I had dreamed up a scenario where Quenneville served one more year as Hawks coach, decided he'd had enough and Haviland moved up to the top coaching job. That scenario rarely works though, so maybe it wasn't all that good of an idea. And one still guesses how much assistants matter.
But Haviland mattered. We know that whatever special teams' unit he coached, it hummed. Two years ago it was the league's best penalty kill. Last season it was one of the league's best power plays. When Haviland had to fill in for Q while the latter recovered from his team's failed attempt to kill him, that's when the Hawks took off on their eight-game winning streak. Moreover, every player loved him, and we did too even though we didn't know him. Any of you not want to buy Haviland a beer?
Haviland also has minor league success as his head coaching resume. He won two ECHL championships to his name, and both Norfolk and Rockford were well over .500 when he was manning the Hawks AHL affiliate. More importantly, Byfuglien, Bolland, Versteeg, Brouwer, Bickell, Barker, and others played under Haviland for at least a full season and can count themselves no worse than serviceable NHL-ers. With the Thra...or whatever they are having Kane and Bogosian and Enstrom and a couple others, Haviland's teaching ability will be handy.
If you're a little worried about who replaces Havvy on the Hawks staff, I won't blame you. When Q got his first chance to hire his own assistant on the bench, Mike Kitchen didn't exactly wow anyone. The penalty kill smelled like a late-night cab for most of the year, and when he took the reigns of the power play that didn't get much better. But everything lands at Q's feet, and whether the Hawks return to where we think they belong shouldn't hinge on an assistant coach.