The Chicago Blackhawks will not change in two key areas for the 2018-19 season, as they’ve opted to keep their head coach and general manager in place
Chicago Blackhawks fans may be driven to a fit of rage this morning and afternoon after news broke that both Joel Quenneville and Stan Bowman will return in their roles for the 2018-19 season.
If you think this through to its core, this is not surprising news. If the Blackhawks were going to fire Quenneville, they would have done so midseason.
It makes no sense to keep a coach around through a non-playoff season as you’re heading toward the draft unless you plan on allowing him to make future decisions. One of the assistants would make more sense as a puppet, in that case.
Bowman staying around also isn’t shocking. General managers tend to be axed after repeated failures, not a single one. While some fans will point to Bowman’s recent struggles with big contracts as multiple failures, the team still managed to qualify for the playoffs every year up until now. So technically, we’re talking about a single failure.
As such, these two will have a chance to dig the Blackhawks out of the hole that was the 2017-18 season. They’ve already set things in the correct direction, with an emphasis on developing and playing younger talent.
Other comments on the news
All of this came from Blackhawks president John McDonough this morning during a press conference. Here are some of his other tidbits, courtesy the Chicago Sun-Times’ Mark Lazerus:
I see no problem with any of these thoughts … except one. That first point about Coach Q being allowed to name his staff could be problematic, and also not true.
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There could be a behind-the-scenes agreement to make some change on Q’s staff in exchange for keeping him on board. This also prevents the previous issue of Bowman axing an assistant to Q’s fury, as has happened in the past.
Regardless, I don’t really want Q to have full control over setting his staff. I know, that makes no sense coming from someone who has expressed no problem keeping Q around. But if you look at a key task Q’s assistants are given — handling special teams — you’ll see they failed this season, and have been failing for some time.
Specifically, Kevin Dineen is not running an effective powerplay. He’s in his fourth season with the Blackhawks. This was one of the major bugaboos for Chicago in 2017-18, and there’s no reason you can’t make a change here while still keeping Q happy.
It’s much easier to make an organizational change at a lower level than head coach or general manager. Any firing still gives the team a little kick. In this case, it could be a really positive kick. How can the powerplay get any worse?
So maybe McDonough says Q gets full control over his staff choices, but other upper-level folks help coax him along with certain ideas or names. I wouldn’t be opposed to that at all, based on what we’ve seen recently.
But out of all of this, the big news is that the Blackhawks are making plenty of changes on the ice while keeping things stable at the top. Presently, I think this makes sense. Let’s reevaluate in September.