In a move that nobody saw coming, the Blackhawks fired Joel Quenneville after a 10 year career with the team. To say Coach Q meant a lot to the city of Chicago is an extraordinary understatement, so we’re going to go on a trip down memory lane and take a look at what he did for this team, season by season.
At the tail end of the 2007-08 season, the Avalanche and Joel Quenneville mutually agreed to part ways. Little did Q and the Blackhawks know the opportunity this would bring them. In September of 2008, the Blackhawks brought in Quenneville as a pro scout but would soon promote him to head coach just 12 days into the season. In his first season behind the bench, Q lead the Blackhawks to a 46-24-12 record which was good enough for 2nd in the Central Division and 4th in the Western Conference. This finish marked the first time the Blackhawks had made the playoffs since 2002, ending a six-year drought. Coach Q’s rookie season would also see the Blackhawks make it to the Conference Finals for the first time since 1995. Although they were defeated in five games, three of those would go to overtime. Things were starting to look up for Coach Q and his young core of Blackhawks.
Coach Q’s sophomore season really doesn’t need much explanation, simply put this season is where his greatness in the hockey world began. On December 1, 2009 Joel Quenneville would win his 500th game as a head coach, a feat only achieved by 25 other people. The Blackhawks would go on to win the Central Division with 112 points and finished 2nd in the Western Conference.
Going into the Western Conference Final for the second year in a row, Q and the Blackhawks were up against the 1st seed San Jose Sharks. The hype around this matchup didn’t last long with the Blackhawks making short work, sweeping the Sharks and eventually going on to win the Stanley Cup. With the first Stanley Cup win for the city in 49 years, Joel Quenneville was quickly becoming a household name.
Joel’s third season wouldn’t bring the same excitement that the previous had. Q’s Blackhawks finished 3rd in the division and were the last team in the Western Conference to make the playoffs. The Blackhawks would have a heartbreaking first round loss in 7 games to the eventual Western Conference champion Canucks.
The 2011 season would prove more of the same for Joel and the Blackhawks, finishing 4th in the division and 6th in the Western Conference. One bright thing to come out of this season was Coach Q’s 600th win on December 18, 2011, many took note as Joel Quenneville was slowly climbing up the list of all time great coaches. But the happy times wouldn’t last, and the Blackhawks would lose in the first round to the Coyotes in six games.
With a lockout shortened season, Coach Q was looking to make an impact in the little time he had that year. And to say that the Blackhawks made an impact is an exaggeration. For starters, Q would pick up his 649th career win which placed him 6th all time and 1st among active coaches. The good times would keep rolling too, the Blackhawks finished the season with an astronomical record of 36-7-5 and a first place finish. The Hawks would go on to make short work of the playoffs, winning the Stanley Cup against the Bruins, their second cup in 4 years. Now this was the moment that Coach Q truly became a coaching legend in Chicago. With his second Stanley Cup as head coach, Q became one of four other coaches in Chicago to win multiple championships (the others include George Halas, Phil Jackson and Frank Chance).
Looking to be the first repeat cup winner since the 90s, Joel Quenneville was ready to take on the next set of challenges. His first was reaching 693 wins, which he did on January 29. That win gave him sole possession of 3rd place on the all time wins list. Joel would then collect his 700th win on March 19th, which just boosted his pedigree even more as a coach. The happy times would haveto come to an end, though, and the Blackhawks would finish 3rd in the Central and 5th in the Western Conference. Making it to the Western Conference finals for the fourth time since he was hired, Q was looking at a matchup against the playoff rival L.A. Kings. As many of us know this series could’ve went either way, but in a game 7 overtime the King’s came out on top. And the Blackhawks legitimate shot at repeat Stanley Cup titles was over.
To start the 2015 season the Blackhawks would hire former teammate and friend to Joel Quenneville, Kevin Dineen. With the two reunited once again, great things were coming to Chicago whether we knew it or not. Again the Blackhawks finished 3rd in the Division and 4th in the Western Conference, and had a first round matchup against the Nashville Predators. During this series, Q would make a move that would literally save the Blackhawks’ season. He pulled Corey Crawford and let new goalie Scott Darling take the
lead. Like I said this literally ended up saving the Blackhawks season, and Crawford would be back in net to start round two. Two rounds later came the big fish, for the 3rd time in his Blackhawks career Joel Quenneville was in the Stanley Cup Final. And again, for the third time in six years the Blackhawks were Stanley Cup champions. A third championship would only strengthen Q’s legacy, joining Halas and Jackson as the only Chicago coaches with three championships.
Many would call this the beginning of the end, and it’s really hard to disagree. One of the bright notes during a disappointing season was Coach Q would win his 783rd game and pass up Al Arbour for 2nd place in all time wins. Months after this on April 3rd, Q would secure his 800th win becoming the second coach ever to reach 800 wins in the NHL. But as was the case a few seasons ago, all good things must come to an end. Quenneville’s Blackhawks finished 3rd in the Central Division and 3rd in the Western Conference. A first round date with the rival St. Louis Blues would prove difficult, and the Blackhawks would lose in 7 games.
To start the season, Stan Bowman traded away a young promising player in Teuvo Teravainen, which many were questioning. But regardless, Q and the Blackhawks would make short work of the season. In February, Joel Quenneville would win his 400th game as a member of the Blackhawks, only the second coach in franchise history to do so (the other being Billy Reay). The Blackhawks were buzzing during the regular season, putting up 50 wins and finishing 1st in the Central Division and Western Conference. But as the common theme suggests, the good times did not last and the first place Hawks were not only swept by the 8th seed Predators, but failed to score a goal at home during the series. At the end of this season, Stan Bowman went in front of the media and said, “There will be changes.”
And changes there were. In the offseason, Bowman traded away Artemi Panarin and Niklas Hjalmarsson. The Panarin trade made sense at the time, a young player who was going to be paid big money for a guy who showed defensive brilliance. But the Hjalmarsson trade was the straw that broke the camel’s back. Without even consulting Quenneville, Bowman traded away one of his favorite tools to use and that did not sit well with Q. It was reported that he stormed out of where ever he was to go have a meeting to tell Bowman what he had just done. Everyone knew that there were dark times ahead, but not all of it had to be. On February 21st, Q would coach his 1600th game, making him the 3rd coach in NHL history to do so. And on March 11, he would claim 2nd in games coached with his 1608th start. But the common theme coming up again, the happiness didn’t last and the Blackhawks finished 25th in the league. Their worst season since 2007, and the first time in Q’s Blackhawks career he missed the playoffs.
And that brings us to…
After a surprising start and five straight losses, the Blackhawks announced that head coach Joel Quenneville was fired and would be replaced by Ice Hogs coach Jeremy Colliton.
To say that Quenneville meant a lot to the team and to the city of Chicago is a gross understatement and he absolutely deserved better than what he got. Thank you for the 3 cups, Q, we all wish you the best.