Anders Sorensen coaches hockey. But sometimes he feels like he’s coaching golf.
“What I’m here for is helping these players,” he said. “We’re here to serve them. I jokingly sometimes tell those guys, ‘We’re your caddies. We’re telling you to hit the 7-iron. If you want to hit the 8-iron, that’s up to you.'”
That intense focus on development — sometimes above winning –is the reality of being a minor-league coach, especially one in an ultra-rebuilding organization like the Blackhawks.
But after steadily working his way up, Sorensen –who was on Tuesday officially named the Rockford IceHogs’ new coach, after spending most of last season with an interim tag –has embraced that reality.
The 47-year-old native of Sweden spent five years as a Hawks development coach and another three as an IceHogs assistant before finally taking over last November, when the Hawks fired Jeremy Colliton and moved former IceHogs coach Derek King up to the NHL.
From that point on, with Sorensen in charge, the extremely inexperienced IceHogs went 35-26-5, made the AHL playoffs and advanced to the second round before succumbing to a stacked Chicago Wolves team.
“It has been a long road, for sure, but it has been good, too, because…I’ve learned in a lot of different areas of the organization,” Sorensen said.
“The biggest thing is how long it can take for some players to develop into full-time NHL players. That’s something that [the Hawks have] stressed and they’re willing to look at now. At the end of the day, every player’s going to be different. I don’t think you can draw a line over, ‘OK, we’re going to use this guy one [year] in Rockford, and then he’s coming up.’ They have different development paths, all the different players.”
Hawks management told Sorensen shortly after the season they wanted to keep him as head coach, but it took some time to work out his contract. Assistant coach Jared Nightingale will also stay but the rest of Sorensen’s staff isn’t formalized yet.
Sorensen said he’ll meet soon with new Hawks coach Luke Richardson to talk about aligning systems and strategies between the two affiliates.
Scotty Bowman departs
Scotty Bowman, ex-general manager Stan Bowman’s father and the winningest coach in NHL history, won’t remain a Hawks senior advisor moving forward after all.
Despite initial indications otherwise from the team, Bowman tweeted Tuesday he resigned from the Hawks on July 1 because he “decided it was time to move on.” He added he’d still “like to stay involved” in the NHL. The 88-year-old hockey icon currently lives in the Tampa Bay area.
Colton Dach in weird spot
If Kirby Dach’s trade to the Canadiens just three years into his NHL career was shocking for Kirby, it was even stranger for his younger brother, Colton.
Just last summer, the Dach family celebrated Colton being drafted into the same Hawks organization where Kirby already played. Their father, Dale, said last month he couldn’t “even describe the feeling” of pride.
Now, the dream of the Dach brothers playing together in the NHL has disappeared –yet Colton still remains with the Hawks, powering ahead. He has been noticeable during development camp this week.
“As a family, we were a little shellshocked the first few minutes [after the trade],” Colton said Tuesday. “We let it sink in and slowly realized what was really going down.
“It’s kind of upsetting. You think you’re going to play your career with your brother and everything like that. But it’s a new path for me, so I’m excited.”