Yesterday, the Chicago Blackhawks fired Assistant Coach Mike Kitchen. Today, the organizational shakeup continued in Rockford. Rockford IceHogs Head Coach Ted Dent has been relieved of his coaching duties.
The Chicago Blackhawks complimented Dent on his way out. Chicago Blackhawks Senior Vice President and General Manager Stan Bowman credited Dent with helping many players on their way to the Blackhawks, including several who were key parts of three Stanley Cup championships. Bowman talked about the balance of needing the players to develop in Rockford and wanting the IceHogs to be winners.
A center in his playing days, Dent’s career started in 1986 with the Vaughn Raiders of the COJHL. He played two seasons there and followed that with four seasons at St. Lawrence University. For the 1992-93 season, he played for the Wichita Thunder of the CHL. The next season, he played with the Johnstown Chiefs of the ECHL. He split the ’94-95 season between the Chiefs and the Charlotte Checkers of the ECHL. He played four games for the Toledo Storm of the ECHL in the ’96-97 season.
His coaching career started as an Assistant Coach with the Trenton Titans of the ECHL in ’04-05. He was the Head Coach for the Columbia Inferno of the ECHL the next season. For the ’06-07 season, he was an Assistant Coach with the Norfolk Admirals of the AHL (then the Chicago Blackhawks AHL affiliate).
He became an Assistant Coach with the IceHogs for the ‘07=08 season and spent four years in that role. He was named Head Coach for the ’11-12 season.
In his six seasons as head coach, Dent compiled a 221-179-33-21 record. The IceHogs failed to make the playoffs his first 3 seasons. The IceHogs made the playoffs in his fourth season, but exited in the second round. The next season, they lost in the first round. This season, the IceHogs missed the playoffs, finishing in 15th place in their conference.
There were murmurs that Dent angered Chicago management by apologizing to fans via Twitter, after the Hawks traded Spencer Abbott and Sam Carrick, two of the IceHogs’ best players to the Anaheim Ducks. That tweet was later deleted.
Dent also tweeted a message saying fans should contact Bowman directly, if they had any questions about the lineup. This could not have sat well within upper management either.
Obviously, Dent was frustrated. You cannot lose as much talent as the IceHogs did without suffering effects. Still, at the time of these moves, the IceHogs were not in a playoff position. They appeared to be coming together a bit, but it seems it was too little, too late in the eyes of Chicago management.
I have mixed feelings on the move. The IceHogs have not exactly been hugely successful under Dent, but thirteen current Blackhawks played under him. In that respect, there seems to be success.
On a personal level, I have been around Coach Dent for four seasons. He has always stood up and taken any questions. He has always been professional and cooperative. I have no complaints about him from a reporter’s standpoint. I’d like to thank Coach Dent for his time and consideration over the years.
A quick first round exit for the Blackhawks seems to have stirred the pot a bit in Chicago. Only time will tell if these (and possibly more) changes pay dividends, but I at least applaud the organization for being proactive.