Blackhawks sign Joel Quenneville to contract extension
BY MARK LAZERUS firstname.lastname@example.org July 25, 2013 5:40PM
Are you happy with this move?
Updated: July 26, 2013 7:22PM
Joel Quenneville finished the 2011-12 season on the hot seat. He finished this past season as a hot commodity, with his second Stanley Cup in four years. And now he gets his reward.
In what likely will be the Blackhawks’ last major piece of business this offseason, the team announced a contract extension for Quenneville on Friday afternoon, just before the opening ceremonies of this weekend’s fan convention at the Hilton Chicago.
The team termed it a “major” announcement, but it was also an inevitable one. Quenneville was entering the final year of his previous deal, which was extended through 2013-14 shortly before the 2010-11 season began. And general manager Stan Bowman had said twice in the past month that an extension for Quenneville was on the agenda.
“It’s always good to get those things done in the summertime and sort of clear the deck to focus on hockey starting in the fall,” Bowman said July 12.
Quenneville — who quickly has become a Chicago coaching icon, joining Mike Ditka, Phil Jackson and Ozzie Guillen — has long been reluctant to talk about contract matters publicly, but he made it clear that same day that he wanted to stay in Chicago for the long haul.
“We certainly like being here,” Quenneville said. “We’ve liked our time here in Chicago. It’s been a lot of thrills, a lot of excitement. We like everything surrounding the quality of life and being part of the sporting situation in town. We love the organization. There are a lot of positives in all aspects of being here. Hopefully things can work out.”
Quenneville became the Hawks’ coach in 2008 and promptly led the team to the Western Conference final, where it lost to Detroit. The next season, he led the Hawks to their first Stanley Cup in 49 years.
But two straight first-round exits put Quenneville’s job in jeopardy — at least, in the eyes of media and fans. Bowman said earlier this season that firing Quenneville was never a serious consideration.
Quenneville even fired assistant Mike Haviland, replacing him with Jamie Kompon, another longtime associate. The 2012-13 season very likely was Quenneville’s last chance to entrench himself in Chicago for good. And all he did was lead the Hawks to a 21-0-3 start, the Presidents’ Trophy and the Stanley Cup.
A former defenseman who played 13 NHL seasons, Quenneville is known as a players’ coach — he was regularly praised by his players this past season for giving them plenty of time off during the compressed, lockout-shortened season. The team also bought into his defense-creates-offense “team game” this past season, with even Patrick Kane backchecking and playing responsibly. The results spoke for themselves.
“The reason he has so many wins, so [much] success, is he knows how to get the best out of his players,” captain Jonathan Toews said during the playoffs. “He knows how to push the right buttons.”
Quenneville is 222-106-44 in his five seasons with the Hawks, and his 660 career wins are tops among active coaches.
“[Joel has] done a tremendous job,” Bowman said. “There’s no one else I’d rather have coaching this group. He’s demonstrated a great ability to understand what it takes to win, he’s got a proven track record and players respond to him.”