New Chicago Blackhawks head coach Trent Yawney. (AP \'05/Nam Y. Huh)
The move comes after a 1-3-1 road trip in which they were outscored 17-9. "We decided last night we needed to do this," Hawks GM Dale Tallon told The Canadian Press on Monday. "We just felt we wanted to go in a different direction. We needed to change things around a little bit here. We've been flat. We've only won three games in our last 15."
Yawney had another year on his deal. Savard does not have the interim tag.
"He's going to coach the rest of the year," said Tallon.
Only the Columbus Blue Jackets, with 14 points, have fewer points than Chicago's 16.
"We're not happy over the last few years as far as our win-loss record is concerned," Savard said in a statement before coaching practice. "The players have to share that responsibility. But we're looking to move forward and go in a new direction.
"I've always wanted to be a head coach. The circumstances are not the greatest because when you take over for somebody mid-season it means things did not go as well as we all expected. I'm looking forward to working with Mark Hardy and upper management as we move forward in this new direction."
The 7-12-2 Blackhawks opened the season with a 4-2 record but went on to lose eight straight after crippling injuries to No. 1 centre Michal Handzus and star winger Martin Havlat. Handzus is likely lost for the season with a knee injury while Havlat is expected back next week from a high ankle sprain.
Yawney, who named Chicago's 35th head coach in July 2005, is the third coach fired this season after Ken Hitchcock in Philadelphia and Gerard Gallant in Columbus.