The Chicago Blackhawks today named Denis Savard the 36th Head Coach in the team's history and relieved Trent Yawney of his duties.
"The bottom line is wins and losses and we needed to win more," said Blackhawks General Manager Dale Tallon. "We've had some injuries, but in spite of that we're a better team than our record shows. We've won three of our last 15 games and we decided to go in a different direction. We want to play a more up-tempo style game."
"We're not happy over the last few years as far as our win-loss record is concerned. The players have to share that responsibility. But we're looking to move forward and go in a new direction," said new Blackhawks Head Coach Denis Savard "I've always wanted to be a head coach. The circumstances are not the greatest because when you take over for somebody mid-season it means things did not go as well as we all expected. I'm looking forward to working with Mark Hardy and upper management as we move forward in this new direction."
Denis Savard joined the Blackhawks coaching staff as an assistant coach under Craig Hartsburg, on December 3, 1997. Savard began the 1997-98 season as the Blackhawks' Developmental Coach.
Savard, 44, entered coaching after announcing his retirement from the National Hockey League in June of 1997. A 17-year NHL veteran with Chicago, Montreal and Tampa Bay, Savard scored 473 goals and 865 assists (1,338 points) in 1,196 games played. As a Blackhawk, Savard recorded 377 goals and 719 assists (1,096 points) in 881 games played. In Stanley Cup competition, Savard scored 66 goals and 109 assists (175 points) in 169 games. As a Blackhawk, he tallied 61 goals and added 84 assists (145 points) in 131 playoff games.
Savard was originally the Blackhawks' first-round pick (3rd overall) in the 1980 NHL Entry Draft and recorded 75 points (28g, 47a) during his rookie season in 1980-81. The 5-foot-10, 175-pound native of Pointe Gatineau, Quebec, recorded 32-87=119 points the following season to become the second Blackhawk in history to score 100+ points in a single season. "Savvy" was named to the NHL All-Star Second Team during the 1982-83 season when he compiled 35-86=121 points in 78 games and appeared in seven NHL All-Star Games during his career (1982-84, 1986, 1988, 1991 and 1996).
Following his third 100+ point season in 1984-85, Savard tallied a career-high 47 goals during the 1985-86 campaign. He tallied career-highs in assists (87) and points (131) during the 1987-88 season. His 131 point season in 1987-88 is a Blackhawk record and his 87 assist seasons in 1981-82 and 1987-88 are also Blackhawk records. After 10 seasons with the Blackhawks, Savard was traded to the Montreal Canadiens in exchange for Chris Chelios and a 2nd round draft pick (Mike Pomichter) on June 29, 1990. Savard played three seasons for the Canadiens, compiling 72 goals and 107 assists (179 points) in 210 games played and winning the Stanley Cup in 1993.
Following the 1992-93 season, Savard signed with Tampa Bay as a free agent on July 29, 1993. Savard played parts of two seasons with the Lightning, scoring 24 goals and 39 assists (63 points) in 105 games. He was traded back to the Blackhawks on April 6, 1995 in exchange for a 6th round draft pick (Xavier Desile) in the 1996 Entry Draft. Savard finished the 1994-95 campaign with the Blackhawks, scoring 4-4=8 points in 12 games. He sparked the Blackhawks in the 1995 Stanley Cup Playoffs, leading the team with 7-11=18 points as they advanced to the Conference Finals.
Savard is one of only five players in Blackhawk history to have his number retired. Savard's No. 18 was raised to the United Center rafters in a special pre-game ceremony on March 19, 1998. He joined Blackhawk legends Glenn Hall (No. 1), Bobby Hull (No. 9), Stan Mikita (No. 21) and Tony Esposito (No. 35) as the only Blackhawks to have their number retired.
On June 15, 2000, Savard was elected to the Hockey Hall of Fame. His induction took place on November 13, 2000.
Yawney, was named the 35th head coach in team history on July 7, 2005. He posted a 33-55-15 record in a season and a half behind the Blackhawks bench. Prior to joining the Chicago Blackhawks he served as the Head Coach of the Chicago Blackhawks' American Hockey League affiliate for the last five seasons. Yawney posted a 189-144-42-25 regular season record over five seasons.