The Chicago Blackhawks continued their offseason coaching changes by firing Rockford IceHogs head coach Ted Dent on Tuesday. The team announced the move to fire Dent from the Blackhawks’ AHL affiliate a day after doing the same to NHL assistant coach Mike Kitchen.
Dent, 47, has been the head coach of the IceHogs since he was promoted to that position in July 2011. He spent the previous five seasons as an assistant in Rockford, helping to develop Blackhawks prospects while competing for the Calder Cup.
The relationship between Dent and the team seemed to fall apart over the past few months based on reporting from the Chicago Tribune. The Hawks weren’t thrilled when Dent apologized on Twitter to fans after the organization traded Spencer Abbott, Mark McNeill, and Sam Carrick, and he also made frustrated comments on the matter to a local TV station.
And then came another major issue when Dent reportedly “angered the Hawks when he sent out a frustrated text message to players saying if they had any questions about the lineup, they should contact Bowman directly.”
The GM’s job is to assemble the rosters, not convince the players to get on board — that’s the coach’s job. So you can see why Bowman wouldn’t be thrilled that his AHL coach was telling prospects to contact him if they had problems with the way he managed the roster.
“Great guy, but they absolutely needed a change there," according to a source who spoke to The Athletic’s Scott Powers.
The IceHogs posted a 221-179-33-21 record in six seasons with Dent at the helm. His best season came in 2014-15, when Rockford won 46 regular season games, finished second in its division, and swept a first-round playoff series against Texas before getting eliminated in the second round.
Rockford had a rough 2016-17 season, however, winning just 25 games with a thin group due to the Blackhawks’ heavy use of rookies like Nick Schmaltz, Ryan Hartman, and Tanner Kero. It’s not likely that’s what cost Dent his job, but it appears the Blackhawks decided a new voice to develop their AHL talent was necessary.