To kick off this new weekly segment I decided to go all the way back. The 1982-83 season was the team’s first in New Jersey after their move from Denver, Colorado. E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial was the No. 1 movie in theaters and John Cougar was at the top of the music charts with “Jack and Diane.” Hockey fans in New Jersey finally had a team of their own to cheer for and 13,663 people flocked to Brendan Byrne Arena to root on the Devils for their first home game.
The New Jersey Devils currently have 11 players inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame. The first edition of this segment focuses on a player and current NHL coach who is a future Hall of Famer. Without further ado, let’s catch up with former Devils’ defenseman Joel Quenneville.
A Short Stint In New Jersey
Before the Devils’ blue line was run by Ken Daneyko and Scott Stevens, there was a defenseman from Windsor, Ontario. In December of 1979, the Toronto Maple Leafs sent a young player by the name of Joel Quenneville to the Colorado Rockies. The 24-year-old played three seasons in Denver before the franchise relocated to the East Coast and became the Devils.
The 6-foot-1 defenseman suited up for 170 games for the Colorado Rockies. He donned the red and black in New Jersey for 74 games during the 1982-83 season. Quenneville scored five goals and posted 17 points that season. His time in New Jersey came to an end when the franchise traded him to the Calgary Flames along with Steve Tambellini.
Continuing His Playing Career
Quenneville did not suit up for the Flames and 15 days later he was on the move again to the Hartford Whalers. For the next seven seasons he played for the Whalers, appearing in 457 games and putting up 95 points. For four consecutive seasons he was awarded the title of alternate captain and wore the “A” on his sweater.
For the fourth time in his career he received the call that he was part of a trade. This time the Whalers were sending him to the Washington Capitals in exchange for cash. Quenneville was now 32 years old and only played in nine games for the Capitals. He scored one goal during the 1991-92 season and retired from the NHL in 1992.
The Beginning of a Coaching Legacy
It is during his time as a coach where he Quenneville’s legacy begins. It all started behind the bench of the Colorado Avalanche, where he held the title of assistant head coach for the 1995-96 season and saw Denver experience their first Stanley Cup championship. His first job as head coach was with the St. Louis Blues and he remained in Missouri for eight seasons, winning the Jack Adams Award in 2000. His time with the Blues came to an end when he was fired during the 2003-04 campaign. St. Louis made eight playoff appearances with Quenneville at the helm.
He decided to return to Colorado as a head coach for the 2005-06 season and remained with the Avalanche until the 2007-08 season. His team made the playoffs two out of three seasons, and both times were eliminated in the Conference Semifinal. It was not until the 2008-09 season that he began to flourish behind the bench.
His Time with the Blackhawks
The Chicago Blackhawks announced Quenneville as their new head coach on Oct. 16, 2008. During his first season Chicago finished second in the Central Division and made it all the way to the Western Conference Final before being eliminated at the hands of the Detroit Red Wings.
The next season his team bounced back and won their first of three Stanley Cups under coach Quenneville. In 2010 Jonathan Toews lifted the Cup for the first time and celebrated their first Stanley Cup win in 49 years. Quenneville added two more Stanley Cups to his resume in 2013 and 2015, thus creating a modern dynasty. “Once you do it once, you can’t wait to do it again,” coach Quenneville said after Chicago won the Cup in 2015. “It’s the greatest feeling in the world.”
All good things must come to an end, and on Nov. 6, 2018 the Blackhawks decided to fire Quenneville. He left the organization with a 452–249–96 regular-season record. He became a free agent with a resume that included 890 wins, which made him the second winningest coach in NHL history.
Presently with the Panthers
Chicago’s loss appears to be Florida’s gain. He was hired by the Florida Panthers in April of 2019. The team was ecstatic to bring in a champion. In a couple of short years, Quenneville has turned a non-contending team into the No. 2 team in the Central Division at the conclusion of the 2021-22 season.
“He’s won multiple Cups with the Blackhawks; that’s a huge resume and a big name to have in the locker room, a good presence,” Robert Luongo said of the hiring. “Guys will look up to that and respect what he’s got to say. The main thing is he’s won and he’s proven it before. We need a little bit of that in our locker room to realize what it takes to win night in and night out in this League.”
Quenneville’s time in New Jersey may have been short lived, but he is one of the most successful individuals to don the red and black jersey. He was named Coach of The Decade by NHL.com and NHL.com International staff members, and that is only one accolade on his impressive resume. Can he bring Florida their first Stanley Cup in franchise history? We know he is more than capable and there are a lot of reasons be excited if you’re a Panthers fan.
Kristy has been contributing to The Hockey Writers since March of 2021. She is thrilled to be putting her journalism degree to use and covers both the Nashville Predators and New Jersey Devils. Kristy is also a co-host of Chicks & Sticks, a weekly Youtube show produced by THW. You can follow her journey on Twitter @InStilettos_NHL and Instagram SkatingInStilettos.