452 regular season wins, 76 postseason wins, 9 playoff appearances, and 3 Stanley Cups. What a ride.
The Chicago Blackhawks dismissed Joel Quenneville of his coaching duties Tuesday morning in a shocking move. Kevin Dineen and Ulf Samuelsson, assistants on Quenneville’s staff, were also let go. Jeremy Colliton has been named the new head coach of the Blackhawks and Barry Smith will be his assistant.
An end of an era. 10 years ago, the Blackhawks hired Quenneville as a pro scout after he and the Colorado Avalanche mutually agreed to part ways. It would not take long before he was promoted to head coach, replacing Blackhawks great Dennis Savard.
Who would have predicted ten years later that the man they call “Q” would have brought the city of Chicago and the Blackhawks three Stanley Cups in 5 years. It was a remarkable run and some of the best sports memories I’ll ever have. I attended a Stanley Cup game in 2010, 2013, and 2015. I was in the building for multiple playoff wins, my favorite being Brent Seabrooks OT win vs. Detroit in 2013. I still get chills every time I watch that goal. My first game came in 2009, a 5-4 win over Nashville on December 27th. It was unlike any atmosphere I’ve ever been a part of.
But the past is the past. The Blackhawks enjoyed bountiful success under Q but nothing lasts forever. I was shocked Tuesday morning when I heard the news. I was at work and my boss called me into his office and told my Quenneville got fired. I was at a loss for words.
“we knew who Joel was and the record that he had, the track record of some of the teams he coached and stuff like that and just being around the league for a couple years hearing about him and seeing what he was able to do as a coach. But he definitely had our attention right off the bat. I remember it was a different tone”–Brent Seabrook first impressions on Joel when he became the coach of the Blackhawks. This is from Scott Powers’ article on the Athletic Chicago.
Quenneville brought a winning mentality to the Blackhawks. And boy did he deliver. These were some magical years in Chicago and we have been talking about the end for a while, at least after the first-round exit in 2016. Well, Tuesday was the end.
My take on the timing of the firing
Letting go of any coach during the season is tough. It’s a gut punch to the team, the organization, and the fan base. We are talking about one of the best to ever coach in the NHL in Quenneville. And I do not think firing your coach 15 games into the season was the right decision. I would have rathered seen the Blackhawks move on before the season started if he was on this short of a leash. A five-game losing streak is not a good look. I get it. But was this really the reason the Blackhawks moved on? Maybe something else will come up in the coming days or weeks but this does not seem right.
The precedent since the Blackhawks drafted Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane and once Quenneville was given control of the reins since 2008 was to win. And once they started to earn trips to the White House with Lord Stanley, nothing else would be accepted expect to win and putting banners in the rafters.
Now those days are over, for now. The Blackhawks will begin a journey back to relevance and it’s not going to be easy. They still have star talent with Duncan Keith, Toews, Brandon Saad, Kane, Alex DeBrincat and maybe Nick Schmaltz if the 22-year-old can figure it out. Henri Jokiharju has been impressive so far in his young NHL career and other players like Dominik Kahun, Alexandre Fortin, Dylan Sikura have shown they deserve a shot to earn a longtime spot on the roster. The farm system is very strong too, especially on defense. Adam Boqvist, Gustav Forsling, Ian Mitchell, Carl Dahlstrom, and Nicolas Beaudin are just a few of the long list of prospects.
In conclusion, I’m just as upset as the next guy that Coach Q is gone. I knew the day would come eventually, but I was not ready for it today. Heck, I would not be ready for it whenever the Blackhawks decided to move on. It’s a new era though. Who knows if Colliton is the long-term guy behind the bench but he has close to a full-season to impress the Blackhawks brass. I’m ready to see what the future holds and extremely excited to see the young players on the ice at the United Center in the coming months and seasons to come.