Former Florida Panthers assistant coach Mike Kitchen has decided to “take his talents” elsewhere and has been signed by the Chicago Blackhawks to take the place of former Florida Panthers head coach (briefly) and assistant coach John Torchetti. Torchetti last week was named as an associate coach with the Atlanta Thrashers joining good friend and former Panther GM and Blackhawks assistant GM Rick Dudley. Phew! Did you catch all that. Florida to Chicago to Atlanta. Kind of like a popular airline route.
As you know Kitchen was asked by new Panthers GM Dale Tallon (formerly of the Blackhawks) whether he wanted to stay on or not and be part of the rebuild here in Florida. Kitchen chose to pursue other opportunities. You should know that Kitchen was on the staff of the St. Louis Blues when current Blackhawks head coach Joel Quenneville was head coach there. Yikes I can’t keep us with all these teams and cities. You thought Mike Keenan got around!
Now it’s not that Kitchen leaving here is a surprise. Most of us fans here in the sunshine state were probably doing the Macarenawhen we knew Kitchen wasn’t coming back here as coach of the defence. After watching our piss poor penalty kill which Kitchen was responsible for, suck over the last few seasons, most of us would have been ready to back his bags for him and drive him to the airport. In addition, you’re all probably feeling pretty good that it won’t take six or seven passes for us to get out of our zone anymore. Or that we won’t have to rely on chipping it off the glass to get the pressure of the opposition’s forecheck off our backs.
Now as regular readers of this site, you know that I’m originally from Chicago myself, and still am a Blackhawks fan. So you must be thinking, oh crap, Frank must be pretty worried about this move for the Hawks right? Well, not so fast mate. I firmly believe that this is not just a systems issue, but a talent issue. Not just from a defenceman standpoint, but the forwards also.
See the Hawks, even with the bit of change they are going through have a few attributes the Panthers have been lacking recently. Well hell, who am I kidding? They’ve been lacking it for about 10 years right? Those attributes? Skilled players. Charachter players that know their roles and have bought into the system. Players that have hockey sense and hockey smarts. Especially when looking at the top four D-men on the Hawks roster, it should be pretty simple to coach those four guys right? I mean if Kitchen fucks that up, then I’m really going to be surprised.
Now, not that this is a knock against the current Panther roster of defencemen. We will never know how they would have been with Kitchen on the bench, but it will be interesting to see how both sides play out. Will the Panthers defence look and play better with new assistant coach Gord Murphy. A former Panther defenceman who was coaching in Columbus. Another city in this mix! Will the Blackhawks defence get worse, or play worse with Kitchen behind their bench? Well I doubt the latter very much.
I think Kitchen knew all along what was happening. The minute Dudley took the job in Atlanta as GM, it was only a matter of time before Torchetti went there as an assistant. Kitchen then did the only thing that he knew was right for him. Take himself to where the talent is!
While the future defence of the Panthers looks bright, where would you rather coach?
Speaking of talents, have fun watching Baseball’s All-Star Game tonight!
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