The Chicago Blackhawks parted ways with coach Joel Quenneville yesterday. Since the Nashville Predators swept them in the playoffs, things haven’t been the same.
There are moves in sports that you can see coming from miles away. Long before the 2017-18 NBA season started, we all knew Lebron James was leaving Cleveland. Most of us guessed he would go to the Los Angeles Lakers. For Nashville Predators fans, we knew Pekka Rinne would re-sign with the team. Just like before, he put ink to paper on his birthday. These moves we expected.
Then, there are moves that leave you scratching your head mostly because they came out of nowhere. Why in the world did the Dallas Cowboys trade a first round pick for Amari Cooper, only Jerry Jones knows. Yesterday, the Chicago Blackhawks left us all wondering what they are doing.
Yes, you read that correctly. The Blackhawks “relieved” Joel Quenneville of his coaching duties. They fired him. What in the world were they thinking?
Don’t get me wrong. I am not a fan of the Blackhawks. I lived in Central Illinois for a few years and all you hear about is how the Blackhawks are the best franchise ever and “I can’t hear you with these six cups in my ears.” To me, they are annoying. Of course, they say the same thing about everyone else.
Still, how do you fire Quenneville in the middle of the season? In 11 seasons with Chicago, his teams were 797-452-(249)-96. That comes out to 1000 points in the standings or 90.9 points per season. There were five trips to the conference finals in 9 playoff appearances. Let’s not forget the three Stanley Cups he led the team to – their first since 1960-61.
Since the 2017 playoffs, things have been different. Going into the postseason, the Blackhawks were the top team in the Western Conference. With 109 points, they were far and away the favorite to represent their conference in the Cup Final. However, a pesky Nashville Predators team swept all hope away, disposing of the Blackhawks in the opening round. Chicago didn’t even score a goal on home ice that series. The Predators would win the Western Conference and make it to their first cup even.
Chicago was stunned.
Last year, the Blackhawks dropped from first to worst, residing in the cellar of the Central Division. Add to this the Predators winning their first Division crown and you have the formula for an annoyed fanbase.
The truth of the matter is you have two Hall of Fame coaches sharing a club. Scotty Bowman may be the best coach to ever grace the NHL. He had 11 Stanley Cup titles to his credit before joining the Blackhawks’ front office to work with his son, Stan.
“#FireStan” was a trending item on Twitter for the last 24-hours. Many Blackhawks faithful believe he is the on to blame for all the recent issues. Signing players in their early- to mid- 30’s to expensive, long-term contracts doesn’t help. Brent Seabrook will be 34 this year and is signed through 2023-24. He would be 39 that season and makes $6.875 million per season.
Add to this two aging goalies that cost the team $9 million this season. There have been questionable moves and contracts plaguing the Blackhawks. Those are not on Quenneville.
After a solid start to the season, the Blackhawks have fallen back a bit. Maybe that is the reason to fire Quenneville. To me, that is not a good enough reason. Coaches like Quenneville do not grow on trees. What will be fun to see if a team – let’s say the St. Louis Blues – make a move to hire Quenneville, then win the Cup in the next two seasons.
Quenneville deserves better than this.