Joel Quenneville deserves to be treated with respect amid rumors about his job security.
The 2017-18 NHL season has not been kind to the Chicago Blackhawks.
One need look no further than last Tuesday’s 5-1 loss to the Colorado Avalanche for proof of this reality. Despite the humiliating nature of the defeat in question, the more general implications of the night were far greater, as the Hawks were eliminated from playoff contention for the first time in a decade.
It was a night of multiple ironies. Former Hawk Artemi Panarin had just scored a hat trick that lifted the Columbus Blue Jackets to a 5-3 win over the New York Rangers — a timely reminder of the extent to which his absence had left a void in Chicago’s lineup. That head coach Joel Quenneville was coaching the Avs the previous time the Hawks fell short of the playoffs added further salt to the wound.
In the brief period of time that has elapsed since the Hawks’ official elimination, questions regarding Quenneville’s future in Chicago have been a subject of increased interest in the hockey world. As Nick Kypreos reported on Saturday night, Coach Q’s questionable relationship with GM Stan Bowman took a tumble during last year’s draft, when the former was late to learn that Panarin had been traded to the Jackets. As such, the pressure now lies on president John McDonough to make, in the words of Kypreos, “some hard decisions”.
Speculation of this nature will continue to run rampant until an official resolution is made. Yet one can only hope that Chicago’s administration affords Quenneville a reasonable measure of respect as they approach a determination.
There’s a growing fear that the woes of the past season might only be the beginning of less than favorable times in the Windy City. Sharp declines in the play of veteran blueliners Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook, a damaging injury to goaltender Corey Crawford and a less than favorable contract situation have sown the seeds of doubt. That said, it’s important to remember that recent trials and tribulations are a product of an era of hockey that has been nothing short of astounding.
Upon taking over as head coach of the Blackhawks in 2008-09, Quenneville was tasked with an enormous opportunity — one that entailed great responsibility. He jumped at the chance to restore winning ways with everything that he could, as he piloted one of the most successful decades in NHL history. In the past eight years alone, Chicago has captured three Stanley Cups, as championships in 2010, 2013 and 2015 have rendered the Hawks the closest thing to a modern dynasty.
Among players, Quenneville also carries a level of respect that is difficult to match. The most recent poll conducted by the National Hockey League Players’ Association found that 16.5% of 500+ players expressed a desire to play under Coach Q’s watch — the most favorable rating of any coach in the league.
As a decision regarding a future with or without Quenneville looms on the not-so-distant horizon, let’s hope that Coach Q’s ideas are granted a favorable degree of consideration. Mathematically, he’s the second most successful coach behind only the great Scotty Bowman. He deserves to be treated as such.