Windsor native Joel Quenneville fired by Chicago Blackhawks

Windsor native Joel Quenneville fired by Chicago Blackhawks
Unexpected, undeserved Quenneville firing leaves no NHL coach safe
After delivering three Stanley Cups, including one that vanquished a 49-year drought, the Chicago Blackhawks fired head coach Joel Quenneville on Tuesday, ending one of the all-time great runs by a coach in one city.

Quenneville is one of four men in the expansion era to hoist at least three Cups in one tenure, joining Glen Sather, Al Arbour and the father of the man who fired him, Scotty Bowman.

"All of those associated with Jeremy strongly believe he possesses many of the tools that will make him a successful head coach in this league," Bowman said. "He has been very impressive as a communicator, a leader, and coach. He knows the Blackhawks system, understands our players and our culture and we believe he gives us the best opportunity to have success and grow as a team."

This is certainly a very difficult decision. But I believe it is in the best interests of the Blackhawks organization, GM Stan Bowman said in a statement. We need to maximize each and every opportunity with our playoff goals in mind and create continued growth and development throughout our roster at the same time.

After much deliberation the last several days, with great respect to what Joel has meant to the Blackhawks, we knew we had to make a change.

Quenneville was replaced by 33-year-old Jeremy Colliton, who is the youngest bench boss in the NHL by a decade. Barry Smith, a 66-year-old longtime Scotty Bowman assistant, will join Colliton on the bench. Assistant coaches Kevin Dineen and Ulf Samuelsson were also fired.

The dismissal turns up the pressure on Bowman, who has made a couple of questionable moves that helped hasten the Blackhawks' decline. He traded Artemi Panarin to Columbus and Teuvo Teravainen to Carolina in part because of salary-cap issues, and each player has put up big numbers with his new club.

Joel Quenneville deserved a better roster and a better shot than Blackhawks GM Stan Bowman gave him

Quenneville, 60, had one more full season remaining on his deal at $6 million, which made him the second-highest paid coach in the league behind Torontos Mike Babcock.

"His leadership during three Stanley Cup championships speaks for itself and there is no way to adequately express what he has meant to this organization," team president John McDonough said in a statement. "He will always be a significant member of the Blackhawks family."

The man known for his fiery competitive streak and legendary mustache, Quenneville was the NHLs longest-tenured coach by a wide margin. Tampa Bays Jon Cooper, now the title holder, was hired on March 25, 2013 – nearly five full years after Quenneville first stepped behind Chicagos bench.

After getting off to a 6-2-2 start this year, Chicago has dropped five in a row heading into Thursday's home game against Carolina. The power play, a persistent problem, ranked 27th in the NHL heading into Tuesday. The Blackhawks also are allowing an unseemly 3.73 goals per game.

Chicago was the laughing stock of the NHL then. They played in a cavernous, half-empty United Center and had made the playoffs just once in the previous 10 seasons. Quenneville was replacing a franchise legend in Denis Savard who was canned just four games into the season.

The trouble for Quenneville began when Chicago was swept by Nashville in the first round of the 2017 playoffs after the Blackhawks finished with the best record in the Western Conference. Then they missed the playoffs entirely last season for the first time in a decade.

It almost seems unimaginable, considering that the Blackhawks became the toast of the town, that the NHL barely registered a blip on the radar of the third biggest city in the United States before Q arrived.

Quenneville nurtured Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane, who were 20 when he was hired, and was the constant presence as the salary cap demanded significant changes around the teams four pillars, including Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook.

Along the way, he rose to second all-time in NHL wins (890) behind only Scotty Bowman, with a record of 452-249-96 (.627) in Chicago.

During his tenure as head coach of the Chicago Blackhawks, Joel brought the city of Chicago and our fans three Stanley Cups and an incredible era of hockey … He went beyond what anyone expected, Blackhawks owner Rocky Wirtz said in a statement. As difficult as that [Savard] decision was, this one was tougher. But as we look to a future history not yet defined, we believe the change we made today will provide the Chicago Blackhawks a critical element in achieving our goals of championships in the future, including this season.

Joel Quenneville didnt die, but a part of the Blackhawks did. Too sentimental? Too gooey? Three Stanley Cup titles and a whole bunch of ridiculous fun say no.

The writing was on the wall for Quenneville over the last couple years. There was apparent friction between Quenneville and Bowman, bubbling to the surface when Quennevilles longtime assistant Mike Kitchen was fired in 2017 after a first-round sweep by the Nashville Predators.

Joel Quenneville looks on from the bench during a Blackhawks game against the Stars in 2017. (AP Photo/LM Otero)

It was Dale Tallon who hired Quenneville in 2008 at the urging of then assistant Marc Bergevin, not Bowman, who rose to general manager in 2009.

Along with Quenneville, assistant coaches Kevin Dineen and Ulf Samuelsson also got the ax. Barry Smith, who most recently served as the director of player evaluation for the Hawks, was promoted to assistant coach.

Missing the playoffs last spring for the first time with the Blackhawks further warmed speculation about Quennevilles job security. The Hawks (6-6-3) lost three straight before the decision was made.

The Blackhawks unceremoniously fired Joel Quenneville, the most successful coach in franchise history, on Tuesday morning. He had one season remaining on his contract beyond the current one.

Its only fitting that the Blackhawks and Los Angeles Kings fired their coaches within days of each other, a reminder of an era now in the rear-view mirror, as those two titans of the West accounted for five Stanley Cups between 2010 and 2015.

The Chicago Blackhawks front office has made the decision to release Joel Quenneville from his head coaching duties, doing so with my full support, Wirtz said in a statement. As Chicago Blackhawks fans have seen over the last decade, this organization no longer shies away from making tough decisions or ones based on emotion. Those days are long behind us.

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In Colliton, the Blackhawks now have a head coach who is the same age as Seabrook, one of their aging stalwarts. Its a jarring change, from old dog to young pup.

He finished his playing career with Mora IK in Sweden, where he then spent four seasons as head coach and led them to a promotion to the top-level Swedish Hockey League before becoming head coach of the AHLs Rockford Ice Hogs in 2017. Colliton helped Rockford to the Western Conference final of the Calder Cup playoffs last season.

Suddenly, the temperature on coaching hot seats ratcheted up Tuesday, with Quenneville being the coach that just about every franchise must take a second to at least consider as a potential upgrade. The Montreal Canadiens acted quickly in Feb. 2017 when they fired Michel Therrien to scoop up Claude Julien less than 48 hours after he was fired in Boston.

Could Quenneville return to where it all began in St. Louis? Will he head to the beach if the Kings open a more comprehensive coaching search? Or will Quenneville take time to pause and enjoy more time at the horse track?

After three Stanley Cups, the answer is Quenneville will be out of work for exactly how long he wants to remain out of work.

The Chicago Blackhawks have relieved Joel Quenneville of his coaching duties and have named Jeremy Colliton the 38th head coach in franchise history.

In addition, the Blackhawks have named Barry Smith an assistant coach on Colliton’s staff. The Blackhawks have also parted ways with assistant coaches Kevin Dineen and Ulf Samuelsson. The rest of the Blackhawks coaching staff will remain with the team.

Colliton, 33, had been the youngest active head coach in the American Hockey League and becomes the youngest head coach currently in the NHL. Colliton was in his second season with the AHL’s Rockford IceHogs, guiding them to a record of 6-3-1-2 thus far in 2018-19. Last year, Colliton led the IceHogs to a record of 40-28-4-4 and the franchise’s first-ever trip to the Western Conference Finals following series sweeps of Chicago and Manitoba.

Prior to joining the Blackhawks organization, Colliton spent four seasons as the head coach of Mora IK in Sweden (HockeyAllsvenskan). A native of Blackie, Alberta, Colliton guided his team to a league-best 35-13-4 record during the 2016-17 season. Following the regular season, he led Mora IK to promotion to the Swedish Hockey League for the 2017-18 season after defeating Leksands IF in six games (4-2) of the best-of-seven series. Colliton joined the coaching ranks with Mora IK in an interim head coaching role during the 2013-14 season before taking over full-time the following season. In four seasons with Colliton behind the bench, Mora IK posted a 98-57-18 record.

Colliton had an eight-year professional playing career primarily in the National Hockey League and AHL. He appeared in 57 NHL games across five seasons (2005-09, 2010-11) with the New York Islanders, notching three goals and three assists. He was originally drafted by the Islanders in the second round (58th overall) of the 2003 NHL Draft.

Colliton also spent parts of six seasons (2005-09, 2010-12) in the AHL with the Bridgeport Sound Tigers, recording 203 points (77 goals, 126 assists) in 326 games. He is the Sound Tigers franchise leader in assists and points.

The Blackhawks have also announce that Derek King will serve as interim head coach of the IceHogs. Sheldon Brookbank will remain as assistant coach.

King, 51, is in his third season with the Blackhawks organization and ninth as an AHL assistant/associate coach, having served with the Toronto Marlies from 2009-15.

With the Marlies, he helped the team win the Western Conference championship in 2012 and capture three regular-season North Division titles (2012, 2013, 2014).

The Hamilton, Ont., native had a 14-year National Hockey League playing career that began with the New York Islanders during the 1986-87 season. After 11 seasons with the Islanders, King also played with the Hartford Whalers, Toronto Maple Leafs and St. Louis Blues.