Chicago Blackhawks’ Joel Quenneville Does Not Deserve The Hot Seat

Mar 29, 2016; Saint Paul, MN, USA; Chicago Blackhawks head coach Joel Quenneville looks on from behind the bench during the third period against the Minnesota Wild at Xcel Energy Center. The Wild won 4-1. Mandatory Credit: Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports
Mar 29, 2016; Saint Paul, MN, USA; Chicago Blackhawks head coach Joel Quenneville looks on from behind the bench during the third period against the Minnesota Wild at Xcel Energy Center. The Wild won 4-1. Mandatory Credit: Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports /

As the longest-tenured head coach in the NHL, Joel Quenneville has instilled a winning culture with the Chicago Blackhawks and doesn’t deserve to be on the proverbial hot seat

What used to happen when your grandparents broke their vacuum cleaner?  They probably took it to a store to have them replace a broken belt or fix some sort of motor.  Today, the cost of fixing consumer products can be just as much as buying a new one which has created a “disposable” society.

In the digital age where we cycle through romantic partners by swiping our smartphones and can find new friends almost instantaneously by joining a new meet-up group online, time has become more fragile than ever.  As a millennial, I’m used to getting answers right away from the internet, and when I don’t, I tend to ask hard questions as to why things aren’t working.

In the case of professional sports, 30-plus teams with the goal of winning a championship hire professionals to manage their teams and get them closer to hoisting that trophy at the end of the year.  Unfortunately, one team reaches that goal and 29-plus other teams don’t.  The reality of winning in sports is that it’s very difficult and few teams get the opportunity to go all the way.

New coaches and general managers often are given a short window to prove they are worthy of turning a franchise around.  In few cases, managers like Theo Epstein are given the flexibility to implement a five-year rebuilding plan.  Because of the trust and patience the Cubs’ owners had in Epstein, they were rewarded with their first World Series Championship in more than 100 years.

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Theodore Roosevelt once said, “The best executive is the one who has sense enough to pick good men to do what he wants done, and self-restraint enough to keep from meddling with them while they do it.”  This quote speaks volumes to how important it is to hire good leaders to guide the direction of your organization.

Great executives and coaches are sometimes as aggressively sought after as superstar athletes on the free agent market.  Because there are so few individuals with winning reputations, it’s best to hold on to them when you can.  And it is also wise as owners to let them do the job you hired them for and not intervene as much as you want to.

This brings me to a very sensitive subject for Chicago Blackhawks fans: Joel Quenneville.  With little flexibility to hold individuals accountable, president of operations John McDonough triggered his general manager Stan Bowman to make changes to the organization for an unacceptable 2017 playoff exit.

AHL head coach Ted Dent and assistant coach of the Blackhawks Mike Kitchen were both relieved of their duties following the loss to the Predators.  The question of Quenneville being on the hot seat was brought up, and some are saying he could be let go if the Blackhawks continue to falter next season.

Taking a look at Quenneville’s coaching stats, there probably isn’t a better coach out there.  Q has 700 NHL games under his belt and has a .649 winning percentage.  The only other coaches about 500 NHL games are Ken Hitchcock, Randy Carlyle and Dave Tippett.

Quenneville is also a players’ coach, meaning he generally lets players do their job and gives them the time off they need instead of burning them out with practice.  He also from time to time will bench a player to send a message about their performance.  Quenneville does have a reputation of trying to fix stagnant performance by “juggling” lines, which has always been questioned by the media who ask how chemistry is otherwise built.

Overall, there isn’t a better coach and a better for for the Chicago Blackhawks right now.  The ’Hawks clearly ran into the wrong team at the wrong time as the Nashville Predators just recently lost their first game at home in all the playoffs.  The salary cap has continued to prevent talent from staying in Chicago, and not all of the young players have been able to contribute at the rate the ’Hawks need them to.

There are several factors that contributed to the Blackhawks’ early exit this year, but let’s not put it all on Quenneville, or make him a scapegoat.  It’s clear that everybody from the front office to the players on the bench need to change because every year there is a new team.  The team can’t put bandaids on its cap woes anymore or place high expectations on new players.

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If this means losing and growing as a team, so be it.  The Blackhawks have fallen from championship caliber, but there is no better leader to get them back to that status than Quenneville.  So for all of you who simply want to turn the page and move on, think about what your options look like first.