Claude Julien’s firing in Boston today had the most impact on the Bruins, of course, but it also left a coaching note for the Chicago Blackhawks
If you haven’t heard the news, the Boston Bruins axed coach Claude Julien this morning, the fourth coach to be fired mid-season in the 2016-17 campaign. So what does this have to do with the Chicago Blackhawks?
Well, Julien’s ouster means coach Joel Quenneville is now the longest-tenured coach in the NHL. He joined the Blackhawks just after the start of the 2008-09 season, coaching his first game with the Chicago franchise on Oct. 16, 2008.
Q’s record with the team since then has been a robust 473-246-79 across all play, including three Stanley Cups in 2010, 2013 and 2015. It’s pretty clear why Q is now the longest-tenured NHL coach now, despite some of fans’ complaints about his lineups throughout the years.
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I figured this post would be more interesting from a history perspective, so let’s compare Coach Q’s current run with the Blackhawks across various groups.
Longest-tenured Blackhawks coaches
Well, the Blackhawks have had a lot of head coaches, and many of them didn’t last long in the role. It took until coach No. 13 for the Blackhawks to find someone who could last more than three seasons. That was Paul Thompson, who led the team in five full seasons and parts of two others from 1938-45.
Quenneville is currently working on his ninth season with the Blackhawks, and that’s good for second on the all-time coaching list for the franchise. It’s just ahead of Bob Pulford, who spent parts of seven seasons across four different decades with the Blackhawks.
But the current clubhouse leader? That’d be Billy Reay, who started coaching the Blackhawks in the 1963-64 season and was out during the 1976-77 campaign. That’s 13 full seasons and part of a 14th, who recorded a Blackhawks-record 573 wins during his coaching run. So Q is just 100 victories and a handful of seasons off Reay.
Longest-tenured NHL coaches
Alright, so there are 30 teams in the NHL. Eighteen of them hired/promoted their current coach in the calendar year 2015 or later. That’s absolutely crazy. It’s also the nature of sports, professional or collegiate, these days when it comes to coaching.
Coach Q’s starting date in Chicago is almost a year clear of the second-longest-tenured NHL coach. I was amazed when I saw who it was, too: Arizona’s Dave Tippett.
Tippett is the only other NHL coach in action who was hired prior to the 2010 calendar year. He took the job with then-Phoenix on Sept. 24, 2009 and has held on to it for seven full seasons and this ongoing eighth one despite the Coyotes not making the playoffs since 2012.
Other NHL coaches who beat out the “hired before 2015” threshold:
— Los Angeles’ Darryl Sutter (Dec. 17, 2011)
— Montreal’s Michel Therrien (June 5, 2012)
— Tampa Bay’s Jon Cooper (March 25, 2013)
— Dallas’ Lindy Ruff (June 21, 2013)
— New York Rangers’ Alain Vigneault (June 21, 2013)
— Winnipeg’s Paul Maurice (Jan. 12, 2014)
— Nashville’s Peter Laviolette (May 6, 2014)
— Washington’s Barry Trotz (May 26, 2014)
— Carolina’s Bill Peters (June 19, 2014)
— Vancouver’s Willie Desjardins (June 23, 2014)
You wouldn’t have figured Carolina and Vancouver would be on that list due to their recent struggles. But some of those names just aren’t surprising, as Ruff, Vigneault, Laviolette and Trotz are guys who know how to stick in a spot.
Da Windy City
The newbie coaches, meanwhile, would be the four who have been promoted during the 2016-17 season: Tom Rowe in Florida, Doug Weight with the New York Islanders, Mike Yeo in St. Louis and Bruce Cassidy in Boston.
Longest-tenured professional sports coaches
So, let’s break this out among the big-four professional sports in the United States and Canada. How does Coach Q fare when stacked up against coaches from the NFL, NBA and MLB?
He fares decently, but not quite well enough to crack the top-10 list just yet. Coach Q currently holds the 13th-longest tenure among the four major North American sports.
Those who have him beat:
— San Antonio Spurs’ Gregg Popovich (NBA; Dec. 10, 1996)
— Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim’s Mike Scioscia (MLB; Nov. 18, 1999)
— New England Patriots’ Bill Belichick (NFL; prior to 2000-01 season)
— Cincinnati Bengals’ Marvin Lewis (NFL; prior to 2003-04 season)
— Green Bay Packers’ Mike McCarthy (NFL; prior to 2006-07 season)
— New Orleans Saints’ Sean Payton (NFL; prior to 2006-07 season)
— San Francisco Giants’ Bruce Bochy (MLB; Oct. 27, 2006)
— Pittsburgh Steelers’ Mike Tomlin (NFL; prior to 2007-08 season)
— New York Yankees’ Joe Girardi (MLB; Oct. 30, 2007)
— Baltimore Ravens’ John Harbaugh (NFL; prior to 2008-08 season)
— Miami Heat’s Erik Spoelstra (NBA; April 28, 2008)
— Dallas Mavericks’ Rick Carlisle (NBA; May 9, 2008)
Q is in good company with this group, as very nearly all of these 12 men have won at least one title in their respective leagues. Popovich and Belichick are the flag-bearers in that department with five championships apiece while coaching their respective teams.
After that, Bochy has three titles with the Giants (as does Q in Chicago), Spoelstra has two in Miami, and all of Scioscia, McCarthy, Payton, Tomlin, Girardi, Harbaugh and Carlisle have one title apiece with their current teams. Only Lewis in Cincinnati can’t lay claim to a league championship.
Now, if we broke this down to the college sports as well, we’d be here all day. There are college football and basketball coaches who have been around since what seems like the dawn of time. No, we’ll just leave it to the big four sports.
But this much is clear: Coach Q is having an incredible run with the Chicago Blackhawks. This longest-tenured bit no doubt means little to him; but it’s another something we can add to his name right now as Blackhawks fans and observers.