Blackhawks fire Graham as coach

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The Chicago Blackhawks didn't wait until offseason to admit they had made a mistake, instead the Blackhawks fired head coach Dirk Graham Monday.

Assistant coach Lorne Molleken will replace Graham as interim coach and Denis Savard will stay on as assistant coach.

"There will be more structure, more discipline," Molleken said. "Team play has been horrendous. That is what we will focus on."

Graham, just 59 games into his first season as coach, will remain with the Blackhawks organization, general manager Bob Murray said. However, Murray said a decision hasn't been made on Graham's position.

Graham had little experience at coaching when he was hired by the Blackhawks. He had spent just one season, 1995-96, as an assistant.

But at the time of Graham's appointment, Murray insisted that Graham's demeanor in the locker room as a player and captain of the Blackhawks was what mattered. In announcing Graham's firing, Murray admitted to his mistake.

"I've learned to never put a person in the position we put Dirk," Murray said. "We set him up to fail. You have to have some experience to do this job."

With 23 games remaining Chicago is on the bottom of the Western Conference with second-worst record in the NHL. The Blackhawks are still mathematically alive for the playoffs, but it would take a small miracle for Chicago to make it to post-season this year.

"We've got to start getting ready for next season," Murray said.

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