Joel Quenneville’s Future: How He, and the Blackhawks, Have Evolved

Since Rocky Wirtz was given control of the Chicago Blackhawks, they have been no stranger to the rumor mill. From adding high priced free agents to making bold changes both on and behind the bench, the Blackhawks have been a growing organization.

But now that the rumor mill has focused it’s attention on the man behind the bench in Chicago, the apparent issues in the relationship between Joel Quenneville and the Blackhawks’ front office has become the center of discussion.

Hockey Night in Canada put the spotlight on that relationship earlier this week. But looking back at the evolution of that relationship shows that the breakdown has been a long and winding road.

Let’s start at the end of the honeymoon: the summer of 2010. The exodus of talent off the championship roster hit everyone hard, and the coach was no exception. Here’s video of Quenneville meeting the media before the Blackhawks began their title defense:

Quenneville specifically mentions that the team was able to keep the top three centers on the roster from the Cup team. Who were those centers? Jonathan Toews, Patrick Sharp and Dave Bolland. And for a coach that lusts for puck possession, there’s no question that center is a position of paramount importance.

Yet for most of last year, Sharp was a wing and the team continued to search for another quality center. A position that was a strength for Quenneville after winning the Cup was compromised by moving Sharp to wing.

Here’s video from Quenneville meeting the media after the Blackhawks first round exit at the end of the 2010-11 campaign:

Here’s more from that same media session. Pay attention to his answer to the second question (from Chris Kuc of the Chicago Tribune):

Fast forward to July, when free agents were introduced to the Chicago media. First, let’s listen specifically to comments from Bowman regarding the addition of Andrew Brunette here:

Now here’s some video from the presser introducing Brunette to the media. Listen to the first question to Brunette here:

Everyone was high on Brunette’s “leadership,” but clearly Quenneville had questions regarding the addition to his group. And, over the regular season that followed, the coach’s concerns proved to be spot on.

Here are Quenneville’s comments about his roster from September:

Certainly the idea of a “work in progress” was a common theme throughout not only the preseason, but all the way into the 2012 playoffs. Injuries contributed to the amount of movement some players had on the Blackhawks during the regular season, but right away there appeared to be some questions the coaching staff had about the players that were being put on the ice.

And those questions continue.

Now here are Quenneville’s comments about the roster after the 2012 postseason ended:

If you look back at the comments Quenneville made from the first video, from immediately following the post-Cup summer, to the end of the 2012 playoffs, the demeanor of Quenneville has obviously changed.

And the center position, which we’ve already established is a key to the system Quenneville employs, continues to be a “work in progress.”

Both Quenneville and Bowman addressed the position specifically in their end-of-season comments. Since he was brought here, Marcus Kruger has been a favorite of the front office and Quenneville has been high on him as well. But listen to the coach’s comments about the second line center here:

Now place those comments into the context of the final words Quenneville offered in the previous video. The room for assessment in Quenneville’s eyes is not only on the roster on paper, but also focuses on how those players are being used.

Is Kruger a second line center? Is Kane going to stick there? Are the days of Sharp at center officially over? Or will the Blackhawks look to an outside source – either from another NHL roster or within the organization – to fill that role?

Certainly we can see from these examples dating back almost two full calendar years that the head coach of the Blackhawks has expectations… and that they haven’t always been met by the players has has been given.

With the cap space created by his moves over the last two years, Bowman is now under pressure to take his rebuild of the team to the next level. There is as much, if not more, pressure on the general manager to get the team back to being championship-caliber than the head coach who has already established a Hall of Fame resume.

Let’s see what the comments from the front office, and Quenneville, are when they meet the media again in July and September of this year.

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8 Responses to Joel Quenneville’s Future: How He, and the Blackhawks, Have Evolved

  1. Nick says:

    Why again was Sharp moved from center to wing? Kane is a better winger anyways, and Sharp has always been a decent center. Is it because Sharp doesn’t like being center? Why isn’t Pirri played? He is offensive

  2. stealthwise says:

    Sharp is awesome at center, I still don’t get the issue here. Whether it’s Quennville or Bowman or both with the problem of playing him at center, they need to smarten the F up and just put him back there, he’s perfect in that role.

  3. Brad Stevenson says:

    There is NO DOUBT that there is a division in the Hawks management…Stan and Scott Bowman believe in puck possession and their young talent…Coach Q has tried to make this game work with the players he has been given, but it is NOT the history of Q’s coaching style. He has simply made due with what he has been given…

    A Stanley Cup was the result in 2010 with that loaded, deep roster…but after that, it has been disjointed and often painful to watch…why??? Because the GM, and his Dad, had different ideas and beliefs than the coach…Q is not a young pup, he knows what worked as a player and has attempted to administer this as a coach…and when he is given a bunch of young, soft talent, it is hard for Q to be successful with what he knows. and believes in…for 2 years now we have watched this painful dichotomy.

    Today, is an admission of this situation as Q was forced to save his job by jettisoning one of his assistants…and the replacement, GUARANTEED, will be at the choosing of Stan and Scotty Bowman…whether it is Barry Smith, or someone else, it will be someone that the Bowman’s feel will allow THEIR group of talent to thrive…will it work??? No way…it is a stop gap measure at best…more than anything, it is an admission that there is a rift in Chicago, and expect bigger changes to come during the season…

    Q’s ideas of a successful PP are to have the DMen drive shots at the net with a constant screen in front…so why were the Hawks so bad for the past 2 years??? No Big Buff, which meant no screen, plus there are no DMen that can get their shots, consistently, on net…all this adds up to NO PP GOALS…the PK??? Same schtick…clear bodies out of the crease and block shots…Q has ONE DMAN that clears bodies away from the net, and doesn’t have a forward that is willing to consistently block shots…in other words, it has been a RECIPE FOR DISASTER for 2 seasons…

    Fault??? Bowman…Q??? Both…Bowman has steadfastly put certain types of players onto the roster and Q has steadfastly continued to coach a certain way…both personalities has therefore engaged in Einstein’s definition of insanity…and therefore both a GUILTY…

    That is why a single coaching change does not bode as a solution to the problem that this team has…and unless Bowman steps out of his “comfort zone” and admits that this team has significant roster problems, 2012-13 will be another disappointing season. Until both the GM and the coaching staff stand on the same page in Chicago, we are going to continue to find ways to lose even with Jonathon Toews as Captain…and that is a shame.

    Thanks Tab…great article!

  4. Peter says:

    Brad, Nice Comment. I think your blame of both Quennville and Bowman is spot on. Q wants different players, but doesn’t change his style. Bowman wants a different style, but doesn’t change his coach who likes another style.

    2010 saw a great Hawks team win the Cup. Like Nick and Stealthwise, I too do not know why Sharp has not played center for a majority of the time the past two years. He seemed to be playing well there and no one says why he isn’t moving back. What’s the reason.

    Finally, we need to roll 4 lines again. The PP and PK could have been more effective in 2010 because we had 4 lines and our players were not dog tired from playing in only 3 lines and being special team players. Madden and Sopel (I know Sopel wasn’t a forward and he was the slowest skater I have ever seen) provided a great benefit because they were such solid PK players. I think we need to find specialty players like that again who can contribute up to 8 – 10 minutes of regular shift time as well. I.E. Madden, Burrish, and Eager constantly destroyed other teams’ 4th lines and when they got matched up against other lines they could display some puck possession.

    That formula seemed to work. I liked watching that team. Could Tallon have been better than he got credit for? His team composition seemed to work, he just couldn’t draft anyone or do math (i.e. the cap) to save his head.

  5. Brad Stevenson says:

    Thanks Pete, and your comments are spot on…Tallon IS better than he gets credit for…yes, he created this cap situation, but that’s because he built a winner for the laughing stock franchise in the league…he HAD to overpay for talent, and thats why we have the cap mess…the fax machine faux pas with the contracts was awful, but that aside, HE, not Stan Bowman, built a winner in Chicago, and HE, not Stan Bowman went out and got Q to coach…

    And your other point about 4 lines is deadly accurate…we must have 4 lines to roll game in and game out, so that Toews and Company can play all the special teams as well…

    I think we are close…but we MUST have that 2nd line centre and that Top 3 DMan…with those, the talent in the organization fills out the 4 lines very well, and with Crawford bouncing back from the Soph jitters, this team could, with Q as coach, win a Cup…but if we don’t add these 2 players, and some fake add on scenery in its place, we won’t go anywhere.

  6. Brad Stevenson says:

    All the information now pouring out on the Q versus Bowman situation is VERY REVEALING…many Hawk blog sights are providing great details on the whens, whys, wheres, who’s, etc…

    Its clear, as Pete said, the Hawks are a franchise divided…a stubborn GM and father, who only go forward ONE WAY…this is in direct conflict with a coach who will only go forward ONE WAY…one of the many problems this creates is that neither of these “ways” are close to the same direction…this causes, by definition, dysfunction, which is what the Hawks have been for 2 seasons…

    Things progressed over last weekend when Bergevin was appointed GM in Montreal, immediately calls came out that Q was desired as the new Canadiens coach…was this done by Bergevin to push things to a head in Chicago??? Who knows, but the fact of the matter is, it did…and now we see how things have played out…Stanley Cup winning Asst. Coach Haviland is fired, someone Q inherited, and his much maligned friend, Kitchen, stays…Q has won out, at least with the coaching staff…and now, who controls the roster???

    It is clear that we will find out in no better example than Patrick Kane…Bowman said that Kane (yes, the same PKane that was found passed out recently at a Chicago party) was the BEST 2nd line Centre available…on the team? In the league??? Clearly Q doesn’t think so…evidenced by Kane playing wing much of the 2nd half of the year, and only in the playoffs when Kruger struggled…Qs praise, even recently went to Kruger for that position, not Kane…Kane was described as a “nice option”, not as a solution…so we will see how this plays out.

    Kane is NOT a centre in the NHL and will never, ever be a successful one…Bowman must wake up and realize this, if this team is to win another championship…Duncan Keith (without the massively successful puck possession team of 2010) will never ever be a Norris Trophy DMan again, he must be “replaced” with a true #1 or #2 DMan…Keith as a #3 is “do-able”, Keith as a #2 is a disaster…

    These decisions are on BOWMAN, not Q…Qs resistance to change HIS STYLE OF COACHING in light of these shortcomings in personnel are ALL ON HIM…

    2 stubborn, egotistical men who have their backs up working against one another and not with one another…as STUPID as the firing of Haviland was, it may actually signal a healthy change for this franchise…that one of the 2 egomaniacs will get their way on the ice, and may have just become Q…

  7. Biggs says:

    BS- Both his assistants performance sucked and both should be gone! But Q will stick with his buddy and all will remain the same in Hawks town. Not sold on when K came in as a valuable Asst , but gave it a yr. What happens next year when we have the same issues and suck on both PK & PP who ya gonna blame now? Very typical B- Hawks — ONE GOAL (The whole year sucked on the Power Play)!

  8. Tim says:

    I am hoping that things just settle down prior to the start of next season….between Q and the upper brass, and also in the choices of players. Kane as a center for a whole season? No…..just listen to what Eddie Olczyk has said openly about Kane in radio interviews….Patrick Kane is NOT a viable center option for a team if you want to get his best effort (assuming he doesn’t flame out with his rediculously immature antics and totally derail his career anyway). Eddie says that he needs to be a 150 foot player and not a 200 foot player, and that center eventually wears him down and it just shouldn’t be his role. I was shocked to hear Stan Bowman’s comments about Kane’s prowess at center. It is like when Jim Hendry used to say he didn’t need to go after decent bullpen people because he had enough on the roster or in the system. And I will second the idea that Tallon doesn’t get enough credit. He gets criticized, but he built the Blackhawks first championship team in 50 years. And he’s doing a good job in Florida. I’m just becoming less and less of a Stan Bowman fan. And I think that by and large the fans will side with Q and not Bowman, but then again that makes no difference to what will happen in the long run. (oh, and p.s. Denis Savard……pull Patrick Kane aside and slap the living sh*t out of him, and then go and slap the living sh*t out of his parents, and try to get this juvenile on track. He’s Denis’s “guy”. Denis says so. This kid needs a workover before he’s finished way too early.)

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