After a quiet holiday weekend, the Blackhawks finally broke their silence on Monday, hiring Jimmy Waite as their new goaltending coach.
OK, so it wasn’t contract extensions for Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane, nor was it a salary-clearing trade of a roster player. But the Hawks checked off one of the last remaining things on their summer to-do list by hiring Waite — a former Hawks goalie and the younger brother of former goalie coach Stephane Waite — to replace Steve Weeks, who was fired by Joel Quenneville after just one season.
“I’m very excited to come back to the Chicago Blackhawks, the team that drafted me (eighth overall) in 1987,” Waite said in a statement. “I look forward to working with Corey [Crawford] and Antti [Raanta], and to help contribute to the success of this organization.”
Waite played in 58 games for the Hawks over parts of eight seasons from 1988-1997. He also played for the Sharks and Coyotes in a 22-year professional career spent mostly in the minor leagues. He was the goalie coach for Chicoutimi of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League for the last three seasons.
“We are pleased to welcome Jimmy back to our organization in his new role,” said Hawks general manager Stan Bowman. “He has over two decades of professional hockey experience and will be a great addition to our coaching staff.”
Quenneville declined to go into specifics when asked last week why he was making the change. Weeks lasted just one season after Stephane Waite ended his 10-year Hawks coaching career to join the Montreal Canadiens staff.
“Tough to break it down exactly, the change,” Quenneville said. “It’s something we just wanted to do.”
As for Toews and Kane, the wait continues. There’s no concern that the deals — almost certain to be the biggest in league history, likely in the $10-11-million range — will get it done. It’s just a matter of when. Bowman said last month that he hoped they would be signed on July 1, the first day of free agency. But as time wears on, another possibility is that the Hawks will announce the extensions to kick off the fan convention on July 18. Last year, they announced Quenneville’s contract extension at the convention.
The Hawks also remain about $2.2 million over the salary cap, and need to shed some salary this summer.