Mike, we are going to miss you this year. How much input do you have in determining who goes up to the show, and how hard is it to determine which talented youngster gets a shot? Thanks, and I expect a cup this year or next from your team. -- Don, Virginia Beach, VA
Dale and Savvy and [Asst. GM Rick] Dudley all call down and ask us our opinions to see who's playing the best and who deserves a call-up. Certainly we like to reward the best guy at that time. We don’t look at where they were drafted or when. We feel if they’re the best player and they can help the Hawks win hockey games, then we will say it. They do ask us and I don’t think that’s going to change. I think it’s going to be more of an in-person thing now.
Coach Haviland - First, congrats on winning coach of the year. Second - do you ever take input from Coach Savard or Dale Tallon when it comes to a player's position or ice time if they're looking to see how a guy might fit in with the Hawks? -- Matt, Ann Arbor, MI
Absolutely, Denis and I talked a few times last year when he took over. But I think this year it will happen more since were so close. Last year when Dale came down he obviously talked about getting more ice time for certain guys. I’m a big believer in open discussions on players and trying different things. Some people see the game differently and there’s nothing wrong with that; I'm open to it. I'm not the guy who’s making the final decision, but there’s a lot of talk and input from everybody.
Last year you used Adam Berti on a checking line and Dave Bolland was hindered by injuries and lack of the best available offensive linemates. Do Berti and Bolland have enough ability to play on the #1 offensive line at Rockford? -- Jim Frohnapfel, LaGrange, IL
Bolland definitely does; Berti will be mostly in a checking role. I think Bolland is surely a number one line guy in the American Hockey League. If Berti is to make the Hawks one day, he is going to have to play physical and with an edge. Right now that’s the role he needs to play in Rockford in order for him to be successful in his career.
Hi coach, simple question: Who will be your main goalie this year and how many games will he figure to play. Thanks. -- John Cronberg, Evergreen Park, IL
I think Corey Crawford is the guy. Wade Flaherty comes in as an older guy and he’s certainly going to play a lot too. But Crawford is going to be the guy who gets a pretty decent number of the games. We're going to use both of them and goalies go through their ups-and-downs. Crawford's in the third year of his contract and will be the future of the Blackhawks.
Mike, I had the pleasure of meeting you in Rockford at the press conference on July 5. With the Metro Centre renovations going on, you guys play the first 9 games on the road. How difficult will that be for the team not having any home advantage? -- Sam, Rockford
You turn it around. I look at it another way. It brings the team together rather quickly. With us spending so much time on the road down in Houston and San Antonio, I think it’s a great way to get them together. You’re going to have to win on the road to be successful and you might as well get it out of the way at the beginning of the year.
Mike, although your coaching record has been stellar over the past two seasons, the playoff record falls short with two one-and-outs. How do you plan to get to later rounds this season? -- Brad Thomas, Rolling Meadows, IL
I think adding Flaherty to the cage gives us a different look, allows us maybe to not burn out Crawford like we did last year. I think Crawford was tiring in the playoffs. Also, a year later a lot of guys are more mature and will have more confidence; we had a young team last year. Obviously the playoffs are a long ways off, but it’s a goal we're going to have and we're going to push to succeed there.
What will you miss most about coaching in Norfolk? -- Dave Wagner, Virginia Beach, VA
I really think that the rivalries that we had, playing teams like Philly and Hershey. We played them ten games each. That and obviously being in the warm weather in Virginia Beach. The fans down there were so into their team, and being from Virginia people might not think that. They were very loyal fans and knowledgeable; it was fun. It’s a great little city. Now it’s a new city and a new chapter for the Blackhawks and Rockford. That’s exciting too.
As a lifelong Blackhawks fan and a fan of the IceHogs since their inception, how important do YOU feel it is to be in an area that supports both the AAA team and the NHL team it feeds? Do you expect more passionate fan support than in Norfolk, or do you doubt the players/coaches will notice much difference? -- Nick Hewitt, Roscoe, IL
I think you’re going to notice it. I think in Norfolk the people knew the players that we had there; or the players like Rene Bourque and Duncan Keith who had gone up and played. I think the people here are Hawks fans and Rockford fans. It's going to bring in more passionate fans and that's a great thing to have. It’s great for people in this area. Hopefully it will really boost the Hawks not only in the city but also in the outskirts. I’m really excited to meet these fans.