Proud American Hockey League Affiliate of the Chicago Blackhawks

Our Town Or Team
Buy Tickets



By: Bob Verdi
08/23/2011 1:00 AM - Ted Dent is making written notes and taking mental notes, but he is in the market for one of those hand-held recorders. As the new head coach of the Rockford IceHogs, he is full of ideas about how to send game-ready players from the American Hockey League to Chicago, and if those thoughts are secure in one place, so much the better.

“I can wake up tomorrow morning and go over my whole list of what I want to do,” he says. “And I can go over it again and again. Details.”

If being organized is a skill set required by one of the most progressive organizations in sports, Dent appears to be an excellent fit for the Blackhawks. At age 41, Dent has been entrusted with nurturing talent for a parent club that has resurrected itself largely through homegrown infusions. Some franchises view player development as an expense; the Blackhawks under the aegis of Rocky Wirtz and John McDonough view it as an investment. Results are evident—a Stanley Cup in 2010—and expected.

“That was made very clear to me at my job interview,” says Dent. “We want to continue a winning atmosphere in Rockford, of course. But our primary responsibility is to teach and prepare these kids so they will be in the NHL within two or three years.”

Dent’s meeting with Blackhawks management occurred in mid-July during the team’s annual Blackhawks Convention at the Hilton Chicago, where 10,000 fans within a hotel reminded him that hockey is relevant again in the Windy City. As assistant coach for five years — one in Norfolk, four in Rockford — Dent witnessed a regime change and a Blackhawk renaissance that created opportunity. Quality franchises lose quality people, which is why the IceHogs lost head coach Bill Peters to the Detroit Red Wings, where he will be one of Mike Babcock’s sidekicks. Dent says he “went at it hard” when the opening arose, and the front office in Chicago, as it does with boys in skates, promoted those who are worthy from within.  So, Rockford General Manager Mark Bernard will have Dent as his head man, assisted by Ben Simon and Steve Poapst.

“It’s Ted’s time,” says Al MacIsaac, the Blackhawks vice president/assistant to the president. “He’s tenacious, intelligent, with great hockey sense and people skills. A student of the game who has paid his dues and proven himself.”

Dent was a gritty center at St. Lawrence University, where he graduated with a degree in sport and leisure studies. He played minor league hockey at Wichita, Johnstown, Charlotte and Toledo. His coaching resume, which includes Trenton and Columbia, along with Miami, where he was an unpaid volunteer for the Matadors, who, as we all know, relocated for one East Coast Hockey League season from Louisville, where they were the River Frogs. For five years, from 1999 through 2004, he was video coordinator with the Washington Capitals. When you say Ted Dent has done it all, don’t forget roller hockey.

“Two summers with the Philadelphia Bulldogs,” he recalls. “One year, our coach was Dave ‘The Hammer’ Schultz. And the other year, Al MacIsaac. We made $180 a game, and it was a good way to stay in shape. One thing about roller hockey: When you go to check someone, you’re on wheels, and there’s no stopping.”

A minor league coach is no longer an incidental facet of the NHL landscape. More than ever, according to MacIsaac, drafting and producing players is vital. A hard salary cap, the only one in pro sports, virtually guarantees roster turnover. Also, the AHL has become a breeding ground for upwardly mobile youngsters instead of a landing place for thirtysomethings on the downside of their careers. In two years under Mike Haviland, who joined the Blackhawks as an assistant in 2008, and three under Peters, Dent has helped a more than two dozen players graduate to Chicago, several of whom earned Cup rings.

“(Wife) Katherine and I have three children,” says Dent. “And coaching on this level is like watching them grow. You hate to see them leave, but, hey, that’s what we’re here for. We teach them how to be professionals, on and off the ice. Most of them, whether they’re coming out of junior ranks or university, haven’t played a schedule that we play with as many games. You have to monitor that. You have to instill professional habits, like sticks on the ice, not on the hip. You have to make a hard pass, not a soft junior pass. You might have a kid here wondering why a guy he skated circles around in junior is in the NHL. It’s about competing and work ethic. And you have to, at times, massage players.”

The NHL is like college. It’s one thing to get there, another thing to stay there. It’s no secret that Corey Crawford was discouraged when he didn't secure one of two goalkeeping jobs with the Blackhawks at the start of the 2009-10 season. Crawford returned to the AHL for a fifth year. Dent felt Crawford’s hurt and applied those people skills to which MacIsaac referred. Look at Crawford now: he’s No. 1 in Chicago with a new three-year contract.

“The proximity of Rockford to Chicago is significant,” says Dent. “Our guys see that packed United Center down the road and want to get there, badly. Which is good. And once they get a taste of the NHL, they don’t want to leave it, which is also good. Just because you’re an average AHL player doesn’t mean you can’t make the NHL. The Blackhawks. That’s quite a carrot.”

Dent, a listener, thrives on communication. He’s talked with Joel Quenneville about the Blackhawks’ system of defensive zone coverage and neutral zone forechecking. If a player is summoned from Rockford to Chicago on moment’s notice, there is no time to consult a manual. To that end, Dent is also planning to synchronize practice schedules. If the Blackhawks hold drills at 11 a.m., then the IceHogs should toil accordingly.

“It might seem like a small thing,” says Dent. “But if we can get our guys on the same body clocks as the guys in Chicago, why not?”

It’s just another detail for the new head coach of the Rockford IceHogs who is operating as he did years ago in roller hockey. Ted Dent is building up some steam now, and there’s no stopping.

Search Archive »

Browse by Month »

January 2018
December 2017
November 2017
October 2017
September 2017
August 2017
July 2017
June 2017
May 2017
April 2017
March 2017
February 2017
January 2017
December 2016
November 2016
October 2016
September 2016
August 2016
July 2016
June 2016
May 2016
April 2016
March 2016
February 2016
January 2016
December 2015
November 2015
October 2015
September 2015
August 2015
July 2015
June 2015
May 2015
April 2015
March 2015
February 2015
January 2015
December 2014
November 2014
October 2014
September 2014
August 2014
July 2014
June 2014
May 2014
April 2014
March 2014
February 2014
January 2014
December 2013
November 2013
October 2013
September 2013
August 2013
July 2013
June 2013
May 2013
April 2013
March 2013
February 2013
January 2013
December 2012
November 2012
October 2012
September 2012
August 2012
July 2012
June 2012
May 2012
April 2012
March 2012
February 2012
January 2012
December 2011
November 2011
October 2011
September 2011
August 2011
July 2011
June 2011
May 2011
April 2011
March 2011
February 2011
January 2011
December 2010
November 2010
October 2010
September 2010
August 2010
July 2010
June 2010
May 2010
April 2010
March 2010
February 2010
January 2010

December 2009
November 2009
October 2009
September 2009
August 2009
July 2009
June 2009
May 2009
April 2009
March 2009
February 2009
January 2009
December 2008
November 2008
October 2008
September 2008
August 2008
July 2008
June 2008
May 2008
April 2008
March 2008
February 2008
January 2008
December 2007
November 2007
December 0200