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Wolves aim to keep winning ways with new staff, players

Updated: November 13, 2012 6:36AM

The AHL is first and foremost a developmental league. It often forces its teams to deal with attrition, which can hurt their chances of winning.

But the Wolves never have used that as an excuse, seamlessly combining the directive of development with a dedication to winning. The Wolves never have had a losing season.

Returning a core of players from a team that lost in the first round of the Calder Cup playoffs, the Wolves don’t expect anything less than a championship in 2012-13.

“Obviously we weren’t happy with the way things ended [last season],” Wolves veteran forward Darren Haydar said. “That’s Chicago Wolves hockey. We expect to be playing in June, and anything else is unacceptable.”

When the Wolves open the season Saturday at Allstate Arena against the Rockford Icehogs, they’ll do so with a new coaching staff.

After coach Craig MacTavish left in June, the Wolves hired Scott Arniel, who was fired in January after more than a season with the Columbus Blue Jackets. Arniel is confident he can manage the balancing act of player development and a winning tradition.

“[The NHL parent-club Vancouver Canucks] want their players to have success at the American Hockey League level, and that means winning, so it breeds learning how to take it up when you move to the next level,” Arniel said. “You can do both. You can teach and win hockey games at the same time.”

With NHL players still locked out, the Wolves have a plethora of talent. But when the lockout ends, Wolves mainstays such as Haydar know that the team will have to deal with losing some of that talent.

“You have to learn how to adapt to new situations, new players, new linemates,” Haydar said.

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