Hawks buoyed by new coach's energy

DEREK VAN DIEST, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 9:40 AM ET

CHICAGO -- They didn't waste much time blowing a legend out of town.

This is after all, the Windy City.

Four games into the NHL season, the Chicago Blackhawks fired head coach Denis Savard replacing him with Joel Quenneville. Tonight's game against the Oilers will be Quenneville's third behind the Blackhawks bench.

"We know the type of team and the type of style that his teams play to a certain degree," said Oilers head coach Craig MacTavish.

"I played for him in St. Louis. I know him personally. It was his first year as an NHL coach, but he was a very well organized, a very professional guy and the team is going to play that way.

"They're going to be tough, they have a good team. Chicago has the potential to be near the top of the conference."

Quenneville took over the Blackhawks after they got off to a 1-2-1 start.

He lost his first game, 4-3 in a shootout to the St. Louis Blues on Saturday, but then his charges defeated the Vancouver Canucks 4-2 at home the following night.

"There is a little bit of a pop emotionally that a team gets from a coaching change short term," MacTavish said.

"I don't know how short term. These things normally have a positive impact for a game or two, then you get back to the business of whether the new coach can organize a team in a more productive manner than the old coach.

"Joel has a lot of experience. He's a good NHL coach. Everybody knows that and he's going to do a good job there."

Savard took over from Trent Yawney early into the 2006-2007 season.

He led the Blackhawks to a 40-38-4 record last season, missing out on a playoff spot by three points. For whatever reason, this year he was on a very short leash.

"Under (Savard) their team, to his credit, played a very emotional style of hockey and at times I think that was lacking in some of the Chicago teams of the past," MacTavish said. "You have to give Savard a lot of credit for that. He's an emotional guy and his team's played hard and played hard for him."

While four games seems early to replace a coach, no one outside of Chicago really knows the situation preceding it. All the Oilers know is that they should be facing a fired-up team tonight.

"It definitely energizes a team," said Oilers defenceman Steve Staios. "Whenever there's a coaching change, the guys might feel a little responsible for not being successful with the previous coach, while trying to impress the new coach.

"It's a different energy level which should be a factor for at least the first 10 games with the new coach."


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