The Chicago Blackhawks made their fourth coaching change in three years Tuesday, firing Lorne Molleken because they didn't think he could lead the team to the playoffs.
"I didn't have the confidence he could do it," said Chicago manager of hockey operations Mike Smith. He called the decision to dismiss Molleken "partly a gut feeling."
The Blackhawks were 33-39-10 for 78 points, finishing 11th out of 13 Western Conference teams, and missed the playoffs for the third consecutive year.
Molleken did not attend Tuesday's news conference and was not immediately available for comment.
When the team missed the postseason after the 1997-98 season--the first time in 29 years Chicago didn't qualify for the playoffs--it fired coach Craig Hartsburg.
Dirk Graham replaced Hartsburg, but he was fired midway through the 1998-99 season. Molleken was named interim coach and earned the job by leading the Blackhawks to a 13-6-4 finish.
That finish sparked optimism heading into this season, but the Blackhawks struggled to a 5-14-4 record, a sluggish start that triggered a shake-up in December.
General Manager Bob Murray was fired Dec. 2, and replaced by the team's senior vice president, Bob Pulford, who also took over as head coach. Molleken was demoted to associate head coach.
Smith said he wants to hire a new coach within a month and has a "short list" of candidates to replace Molleken. He would not identify any, but said none of the candidates is with a team still alive in the playoffs.
The NHL has fined Pittsburgh forward Matthew Barnaby $2,000 for his behavior during Sunday's playoff game against Philadelphia and reinstated a previous $25,000 fine against him.
Barnaby was fined $1,000 for bumping into referee Mark Faucette during the Penguins' 6-3 loss and another $1,000 for confronting Flyer goalie John Vanbiesbrouck during the pregame skate.
Barnaby was upset at being pinned down by defenseman Adam Burt on a play that resulted in a Flyer goal and bumped Faucette, who ejected him.
Because of the two incidents, a conditional $25,000 fine assessed Barnaby for a pregame run-in with Toronto's Tie Domi in January was reinstated.