No matter what you thought of Trent Yawney, you have to feel for the guy.
Four of his best players missed considerable time in his 21 games as head coach this season. Do you really think the Hawks would be in this position if Havlat, Handzus, Ruutu, and Khabibulin hadn't gone down? How about if just Havlat was still in there?
Ah, but that is water under the bridge. The bottom line -- we hear in sports -- is how does one react to adversity? That's a true test of a coach's mettle.
Yawney was caught between a rock and a hard place. At first, I didn't like his George Bush-like "stay the course" view on the team after injuries. If other offensive players could just "step up" and score, well, there would be no need for Havlat and Handzus in the first place.
I do think reining it in was the right thing to do. The team responded with a 3-0-2 mark. Unfortunately, you cannot take nights off in this style and the Hawks took one against Calgary. Also, after scoring just three goals in three games, all losses, reining it in didn't look too good, and Trent didn't seem on the verge of opening it back up.
With the task of finding more offense, in steps Denis Savard. I can't think of a better person to run with that mantra, but can the Hawks do it? Maybe when Havlat returns, but till then, are we looking at a very risky proposition? Instead of a 2-1 or OT win, we might be looking at 6-3 or 7-2. Creating more chances also means giving up more.
I hope Savvy can teach some guys how to finish, then those extra chances will be worth it. If not, we may see the same winning percentage with just higher scores.
I do think this coaching move was more than just a reaction to this year. In the news conference, Dale Tallon put it best, "With the new rules, an emphasis on scoring and being creative is essential." Again, who better to emphasize that than Savvy? And remember, there is no interim tag; the goal is for Savvy to be here a long, long time.
As this young team grows, it's imperative that his greatness on the ice somehow gets filtered down to his players. Even though Yawney and Savard played at similar times, Yawney is more old school. Denis would have scored 70 goals with these rules and he's already stated that he's going to allow some freedom along with a more aggressive forecheck and a power play that is on the "verge" of breaking through.
He needs players that can do these things and so he finds himself in the same position as Trent: asking for more scoring from a group that doesn't have an incredible history of doing it.
The difference is Savard wants to put them in a better position to provide it. We can only hope that Savoir-Faire is back ... and it would help if Martin Havlat isn't too far behind.
Email Jesse Rogers at: firstname.lastname@example.org