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Hawks happy with Haviland at helm


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Updated: September 24, 2012 6:25AM

Blackhawks assistant coach Mike Haviland said the most nerve-racking thing about taking over for Joel Quenne­ville hasn’t been running the bench — that’s ‘‘like riding a bike,’’ he said — but delivering the pregame speech Wednesday night.

‘‘I haven’t done a speech in a couple of years before a game,’’ Haviland said. ‘‘Once you get on the bench, you kind of get back at it. The guys were so professional. They were great. Guys were very attentive and listened. . . . It was very easy to work that bench with them.’’

Quenneville should be released from a hospital within a few days as he recovers from gastrointestinal bleeding result­ing from a small ulcer, Hawks head physician Michael Terry said Thursday.

So Haviland, who received the game puck after the Hawks’ 3-1 win against the Minnesota Wild, will be responsible for more speeches — at least for tonight’s game against the Columbus Blue Jackets and Sunday’s against the Pittsburgh Penguins.

‘‘I know it’s on an interim basis where he comes in,’’ defenseman Brian Campbell said. ‘‘[But] his speech before the game really got us prepared. He was great in between periods.

‘‘He made it very comfortable for us the whole day. It’s been a lot of years that Mike has worked hard, and he deserves that opportunity. It was nice he got a little memento out of it.’’

Winger Patrick Kane felt Haviland — who typically oversees the defensemen during games — handled the forwards similarly to the way Quenne-ville does, calling Haviland Quenneville’s “protégé.” Assistant coach Mike Kitchen ran the blue line Wednesday.

Haviland was a standout coach for the Hawks organization in the American Hockey League with the Norfolk Admirals and later the Rockford IceHogs, playing a key role in the development of several current and former Hawks.

Though the Hawks locked him in with an extension in the offseason, he has head-coaching aspirations, and many feel he’s an NHL head coach in the making.

‘‘He’s coached me in the minors for a while, and he was a really good head coach,’’ goalie Corey Crawford said. ‘‘He knows what to do.’’

Sometimes that means listening. Against the Wild, Kitchen suggested Haviland send out the second power-play unit after the Wild had tied the game. The unit responded in 34 seconds with what ended up being the game-winning goal.

‘‘We all forget that [Haviland] has had some experience in the AHL,’’ Kane said. ‘‘He told me [Thursday] that he coached over 900 games in the AHL. You forget about that sometimes.

‘‘He was obviously pretty successful down there. I’m sure he’ll have a pretty bright future as a head coach in the NHL, too. Hopefully, we don’t lose him here. He’s good for our team.’’

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