By: Tristan Angulo
In making today’s announcement that he is keeping Blackhawks head coach Joel Quenneville and vice president and general manager Stan Bowman next season, John McDonough, president of the Chicago Blackhawks organization, eliminated any questions that may arise during the offseason about who will steer the Blackhawks as they manouver through their most significant summer in recent memory.
By expressing his confidence with Quenneville and Bowman before the regular season ended, the Blackhawks can focus on the task at hand: how to make the team competitive again.
“I believe in continuity [and] they’ve had an incredible body of success,” McDonough said in his interview with Mark Lazerus of the Chicago Sun-Times. “We’re not tethered to the past. This has been a very disappointing year and our expectations are incredibly high. We’re not going to deviate from those expectations. But I believe both Stan and Joel are the guys that are going to bring this back.”
I think this means that while Quenneville and Bowman deserve enormous credit for bringing three Stanley Cups to Chicago, the decision of keeping them next season is not necessarily because of what they already achieved, but because of what they can deliver for the club in the future.
Quenneville, the second-winningest coach the league’s history, might have had a track record in the past of not being as trustworthy of rookies, giving them a short leash. But this season has been a complete 180 on that aspect, as evidenced by the emergence of Alex DeBrincat and his confidence in playing guys like Eric Gustafsson and Jan Rutta in key situations. Before McDonough’s announcement today, Quenneville has been seen by most as being more of a teacher than a coach to most of the players, having more patience with Connor Murphy and entrusting more ice time to DeBrincat and Nick Schmaltz.
Bowman, for his part, has endured a lot of criticism this season, with many laying the blame of how the year has unfolded on his lap. His moves from the last couple of off seasons, most especially the Artemi Panarin from Brandon Saad deal, are being seen as the reason why the Blackhawks were not the cohesive, offensive behemoth that they were just a season ago. Bowman also got flak for giving up too early on Ryan Hartman, trading him to the Nashville Predators during the trade deadline. In my opinion though, Bowman did the best that he could in the face of the reality that is the salary cap. He successfully juggled the cap crunch that came every summer and deftly signed players that help the Blackhawks win three Cups this decade.
And now, with the possibility of having the most cap space that he has ever had since he took over the reins from Dale Tallon, I have full confidence that Bowman will make the moves necessary to ensure that the Blackhawks, under the stewardship of Quenneville, become a force in the league again next fall, while keeping the development side full of prospects with the talent and skill to one day be the future of the organization.