Check back next week for more of Mike Haviland's answers to your questions.
Hey Mike, I was a huge Dave Bolland fan during his days in London, and I was just wondering what aspects of his game he needs to work on in order to become a regular on the Hawks. Thanks and go Hogs! -- Tim, Pembroke, ON
I think David needs to work on his strength. His whole body, from his upper body to the legs. I think also he needs to maybe get a half step quicker. Those are things that are in his control and he can work on them to get better. The other aspects of his game I think are ready for the NHL -- his vision and hockey sense and his competitiveness. He’s going to see some games this year with the Hawks. He’s very close.
Mike, as a successful veteran coach in the AHL, can you describe how you go about preparing your guys in the locker room just before a game? Is there a ritual that the team goes through before entering onto the ice such as the goalie leading the team out? -- Steve, Rockford
I think it’s a ritual for me and Teddy (assistant coach Ted Dent) that we try to prepare them as best we can for each individual game. We really concern ourselves with our team and only our team. Anything ritual-wise is really just us kind of talking from meetings and really letting the guys prepare themselves and get themselves pumped up and ready to play.
The last couple years in Rockford we've enjoyed considerable success with teams that were gritty and hard hitting, but also accomplished scorers. What style of play can we expect from this year's IceHogs? -- Bill Skurski, Roscoe, IL
I think you can expect the same. Last year we were top three in scoring and top two in majors in the league. I think it has always been a philosophy of the Hogs and Al MacIsaac down in Norfolk and now in Rockford that you need some toughness to go along with your skill to protect some of your skilled guys. I think you’re going to see more of the same and just at a little higher level than the United Hockey League. These guys are on the cusp of the NHL.
First, I would like to wish your staff, players, and yourself a sucessful season. What are you looking forward to the most with this upcoming season? What player is going to be the most exciting to watch on your roster? -- Sean Furlow, Naperville, IL
I think the rivalries that we are going to build with Milwaukee, the Wolves, Quad Cities and Peoria being so close. I think that’s going to be tremendous and great for our fans, plus the new building and the excitement that’s in Rockford. It's tough to say right now, but Bolland is one and Troy Brouwer. They are guys that played last year and have a good chance to be on our team or the Hawks. So it’s tough to tell right now but certainly those are two. Petri Kontiola and Kris Versteeg are also guys who are very skilled offensively and are dynamic players.
Mike, can you elaborate on the advantages of having the Blackhawks farm club in Rockford so close to Chicago? -- Bill Gernant, Houston, TX
I think it’s a win-win for both. It gives the upper management a chance to see their guys on a regular basis. It was tough in Norfolk to see them. In Rockford you will be able to see them in games and practice situations. I think it’s better for the players too. If a guy isn’t performing for the Hawks, it’d be pretty easy to send a player down interstate 90 to make a statement. I think it’s great for everybody, the whole state of Illinois.
Good luck with the Hogs this year!!! Can you perphaps comment on a particularly memorable player's reaction when receiving the call-up to the big club during your coaching career? -- Brandon, Lake Forest, IL
Dustin Byfuglien comes to mind; he got really choked up. He was excited about going, almost like a little kid. Those are the great days of the business. They get really excited like it's Christmas Day. Like I said, those are the fun times and its great to be with them and experience that.
Byfuglien and Richmond have both spent considerable time in the 'A'. At what point do you feel they would be better served playing in the 3rd pairing in the NHL as opposed to going back to the 'A' for, in Richmond's case, a 4th year, and in Buff's case a 3rd? -- Craig Nigrelli, Kansas City, MO
I think they’re ready for it this year. I really do, the both of them. Obviously Danny has proven himself at that level and I think Buff has. Buff has some areas that we need to control, but certainly he’s worked on it the last two years. I think both of them are ready to step in as five, six, seven, guys in the NHL.