On Friday night, April 1, 2016, the Chicago Blackhawks defeated the Winnipeg Jets 5-4. With that win, Joel Quenneville also recorded his 799th win as a head coach. Coach Quenneville started his coaching career with the St. Louis Blues in 1996, before moving on to the Colorado Avalanche in 2005. He landed his latest, and arguably most successful, head coaching job with the Blackhawks in 2008.
During his tenure with the Blackhawks, he has won three Stanley Cups on top of his 361 wins behind their bench. By coaching the Blackhawks to the Stanley Cup in 2015, Coach Quenneville became just the third head coach in Chicago sports history to win three championships (George Halas of the Chicago Bears and Phil Jackson of the Chicago Bulls are the other two).
Quenneville is also the second winningest head coach in NHL history after he passed Al Arbour (782) earlier this season. “Coach Q,” as he is often called, trails only Scotty Bowman in total wins (1467). Bowman and Quenneville know each other very well, as the elder Bowman currently serves as the Senior Advisor of Hockey Operations for the Blackhawks since 2008.
Despite his celebrity like status and success in Chicago, the fans still aren’t afraid to voice their frustrations when they perceive Quenneville is not handling the team and games the “right” way. One perception is that he doesn’t trust younger players and thus, would prefer not to allow them to play significant minutes on the ice. Many believe this hampers player development, which is critical as salary cap issues will prevent many outside free-agent signings.
I have tons of respect for how good of a coach Joel Quenneville is, but his refusal to utilize young players is frustrating.
— Jen LC (@RegressedPDO) February 18, 2015
Is it possible to replace quenneville with a coach who actually respects young players, can get them to win AND is STILL a good coach?
— Dee Chancey (@ChanceyPaul) April 26, 2015
Dee, I think you just answered your own question.
Another often voiced concern from fans is Coach Quenneville’s affinity for constant line changes and in-game tinkering. Many feel that the lack of consistency within the lines is contributing to a lack of consistency in play. This approach by Quenneville is often referred to as the so-called “Coach Q Line Blender.”
Quenneville broke out the platinum edition line blender for tonight's game.
— Chris Hine (@ChristopherHine) March 16, 2016
— Mark Lazerus (@MarkLazerus) October 15, 2015
Certainly the reference is amusing, but I am pretty sure with three Stanley Cups in six years, he has earned the benefit of the doubt.
The Mustache Sidekick
If there was any doubt that fans overwhelmingly adore Quenneville in spite of his few coaching quirks, then look no further than his mustache. Yes, that is correct, Coach Q’s Mustache has its own Twitter account (@CoachQsMustache). Fans are never let down by his wit and wisdom.
Hossa's beard is sick. Crow's is out. Keith's is in trouble. And so on and so on.
Maybe we're just playing possum's beard.
— Coach Q's mustache (@CoachQsMustache) March 31, 2016
A white, friendly, fuzzy mythical creature who delivers the goods. No, I am not the Easter bunny but I get that a lot.
— Coach Q's mustache (@CoachQsMustache) March 27, 2016
Now the fatigue questions come. So predictable. Know what I say? Use a better conditioner!
— Coach Q's mustache (@CoachQsMustache) March 23, 2016
A Perfect Match
On Jan. 12, 2016, Coach Quenneville and the Blackhawks agreed to a three-year contract extension that will keep him in Chicago through the end of the 2019-20 season. The cost is not cheap, as it comes with a salary of $6 million per year. In all honesty, that seems like a small price to pay to keep him as the head coach for players also under contract including Patrick Kane, Jonathan Toews, Brent Seabrook and Duncan Keith.
At the end of the day, the Blackhawks are very fortunate to have landed Quenneville as head coach in 2008. He reciprocates those sentiments as well. In an interview with Chicago Tribune reporter David Haugh prior to the formal announcement of his contract extension, Quenneville stated: “I feel fortunate to be around a great team, great players and organizationally it’s been terrific. We love every part of it, where we were eight years ago to where we are today.”
Simply put, Quenneville is a top-shelf coach by any definition. While no one can predict the future, the Blackhawks have to like their chances with Quenneville continuing at the helm.
Rick is fortunate to live off the I-90 hockey corridor where both his beloved Chicago Blackhawks and Rockford IceHogs (aka Baby Hawks) call home. Hockey has been in his blood since the early 1970’s when he saw his first Blackhawks game at the “Old Barn”. His favorite player is Keith Magnuson followed closely by Bobby Hull (old school!). When not covering the greatest sport, he enjoys watching live music and has even been known to join his beloved bands on stage for a song or two. Follow Rick on Twitter via @HawksStrength