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Chicago Blackhawks: Getting To Know Joel Quenneville

By Gail Kauchak
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I think I may have come up with a positive aspect to the offseason! We don’t have to deal with any of Coach Q’s crazy line blending! That’s right; Joel Quenneville won’t be the bad guy for quite some time to come. But never fear, Blackhawks fans!  I’m sure the man with the mustache is hard at work figuring out ways to frustrate us as soon as the season begins. In the meantime, let’s take a look behind the scenes at the Chicago Blackhawks head coach, Joel Quenneville.

Joel Norman Quenneville was born Sept. 15, 1958, in Windsor, Ontario. He was the third of five children born to Norman and Gloria Quenneville. Hockey was a part of his life from the time he was 5-years-old and used to walk across town to the rink. Joel lived at home while playing for the Windsor Spitfires in the OHL for three years. He was then selected as a promising defenseman in the 1978 NHL draft. He was picked 21st overall in the first round by the Toronto Maple Leafs.

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  • Joel spent 16 games playing with Toronto’s AHL affiliate, the New Brunswick Hawks, before moving up to the Toronto Maple Leafs for the remainder of the 1978-79 season. But during the following season, he was a part of a surprise trade to the Colorado Rockies in December of 1979. He was only 21-years-old, and describes it as a “tough trade” (per David Haugh, Chicago Tribune columnist, 2010).

    He spent 2 more years with Colorado, and then one year with the New Jersey Devils, before joining the Hartford Whalers in 1983. This is the team that most people associate with Joel’s playing career, as he was there for seven seasons. In his 13 seasons and 803 games in the NHL, he had 54 goals, 136 assists and 705 penalty minutes.

    In 1990, Joel was traded to the Washington Capitals, where he played only nine games before being sent down to the AHL. His playing career was winding down, but his coaching career was just getting started. Joel Fletcher, a senior advisor with the Toronto Maple Leafs, hired Joel as a player-coach for the St. John’s Maple Leafs in 1991, when he was 32 years old. Fletcher said he encouraged the move because he always respected Quenneville’s combination of intelligence and tenacity (Haugh, 2010).

    Joel then moved on to coach the AHL’s Springfield Indians, and became an assistant coach for the Quebec Nordiques. The Nordiques became the Colorado Avalanche, and Quenneville was with the team when they won the Stanley Cup in 1996. His first head coaching gig started with the St. Louis Blues in 1996.

    Joel coached the Blues for the next eight seasons. He is the winningest coach in Blues history, with a 307-191-95 record. In the 2003-04 season, Joel was replaced midseason after the team went a mediocre 29-23-9. He then was head coach for the Colorado Avalanche for three years before coming to the Chicago Blackhawks in 2008.

    In his career with the Chicago Blackhawks, Joel has won the Stanley Cup three times (2010, 2013 and 2015), lost in the Conference Finals two times and lost in the first round of the playoffs two times (I guess you can’t win them all). Hmm, that’s not too shabby. Like a fine wine, he appears to be getting better with age.

    May 1, 2015; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago Blackhawks head coach Joel Quenneville during the third period in game one of the second round of the 2015 Stanley Cup Playoffs against the Minnesota Wild at United Center. Mandatory Credit: Jerry Lai-USA TODAY Sports

    Some people say that Coach Q is a genius. Others, as I referred to above, get frustrated with his penchant for changing things up. They say he is simply the recipient of great players such as Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane, and that he is notorious for not giving the younger players a fair shot. But no matter what your opinion is of Joel Quenneville, he is considered one of the most dynamic coaches in the NHL. I’ve heard him jokingly referred to as “The Most Interesting Coach in the World.”

    Now I know that swearing is a natural thing in the NHL, both in the locker room and on the bench. But if any of you watched the unedited version of EPIX’s “Road to the Winter Classic,” you will see the Coach Q is a true professional. Not only does he swear, but he can string vulgarities together in ways that you wouldn’t imagine. For those that aren’t easily offended, it can be highly entertaining. He also has a number of terms that are referred to as “Coach Q-isms.” Have you heard talk of “Peanut Butter” and “Picklehead?” If not, here’s a short clip to help explain things.

    Speaking of the letter ‘P,’ I’m not kidding you, I think the coach has a contest with himself to see how many times he can use a word that starts with a ‘P’ during his interviews. I wasn’t able to find a specific example, but he’s always throwing out words like “Poise, Possession, Push the Pace and Patience with the Puck”.

    Coach Quenneville may be an intense, intimidating individual, but he also appears to be a coach that players really enjoy working with. Former Blackhawk Dave Bolland referred to him as a “teddy bear,” and Toews described how he knows how to push just the right buttons. Take a gander at the entire article here.

    Joel lives in Hinsdale, Ill., with his wife Elizabeth. They have been married for 27 years, and have three children, Dylan, Lilly and Anna. Dylan graduated from Miami (Ohio) University this spring, and his sisters attend the college as well. I’m sure all are home for the summer, enjoying some quality time together. Because before you know it, a new hockey season will be upon us. And then Joel Quenneville will be very busy doing something he loves, coaching the Chicago Blackhawks. Enjoy your quiet time, Coach Q!  We can’t wait to see what you have in store for us this next season!

    Next: Maximizing The United Center Experience

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