-- When they showed up to the United Center for their morning skate Wednesday, the Chicago Blackhawks were told they'd be without head coach Joel Quenneville, who was admitted to a hospital with an undisclosed medical condition.
Quenneville, who went to the emergency room late Tuesday night, was in stable condition by the time the skate ended; although he was still undergoing medical tests for a "non-cardiac" condition. Quenneville, 52, will not coach the Hawks in Wednesday night's game against the Minnesota Wild (8 p.m., Versus). Assistant Mike Haviland was named acting head coach for the game.
"Joel presented severe discomfort late last night at his home in suburban Chicago," Blackhawks head team physician Dr. Michael Terry said in a statement released Wednesday. "He went to the emergency room and was admitted early this morning. He is currently in stable condition and is being treated for an undisclosed health concern today, not of cardiac nature."
Recently, several Blackhawks players missed practices and games with a diagnosed flu virus, but there was no word as to whether Quenneville's ailment is related. Not much was released about Quenneville's condition, even to Hawks players.
"All we know is that he's in the hospital," rookie center Jake Dowell said. "They kind of came and talked to us this morning, but that's pretty much it. You never want to hear about somebody being sick or being in the hospital, so it's never good. But we have to deal with it and hopefully he gets better soon."
Star forward Patrick Kane
, who will play against Minnesota after missing practices Monday and Tuesday because of the flu, had similar thoughts.
"Anytime you hear that somebody's in the hospital, it's definitely scary news," said Kane, who took intravenous fluids Wednesday to be ready for the game against the Wild. "More importantly, we can go out there and get him a win tonight and make him happy where he is."
Chicago (28-22-6) trails the Wild (30-21-5) by three points in the Western Conference standings, with both teams currently sitting just outside the top eight playoff spots.
"Tonight's a really important game, because Minnesota's right there with us and we need this game," Kane said. "It's a huge game for us. It's going to be tough to not have our leader behind the bench, but at the same time we can do some special things out there and hopefully get a win for him."
That extra motivation is what concerns Minnesota coach Todd Richards most about the game from a strategic point.
"Our main concern is just Joel not being here and, obviously, our thoughts are with him," Richards said. "They're going to be ready tonight. Their leader isn't here. I know Joel's really respected in the hockey world and I know for a fact he's respected in that room by the players. So, the players have motivation to go out and play for Joel."
Quenneville's absence could go the other way, though. It could become a distraction if the Hawks aren't careful. Haviland -- who will make his NHL debut as a head coach -- isn't concerned about that possibility.
"We're all professionals," he said. "We can move forward. Our thoughts are for sure with (Quenneville) and his kids, but certainly these guys are professional and we know what's at hand here. Guys were pretty upbeat on the ice. They asked a lot of questions, but we certainly don't have a lot of answers right now. But they knew what's at stake tonight against a good Minnesota team."
Haviland said he will roll the forward lines, while Mike Kitchen will handle the defense. The pair will work on matchups together.
Rookie Corey Crawford
will get the start in goal for Chicago, while Jose Theodore will start for the Wild.
As for the team's chemistry with Haviland as the head coach, Kane isn't worried.
"This is my third year with (Quenneville)," Kane said. "You get pretty comfortable with a coach and you know what he's going to do in certain situations, but I'm sure [Haviland] knows exactly how he coaches and will try to do the same things."
Author: Brian Hedger | NHL.com Correspondent