Blackhawks fire Quenneville

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Chicago Blackhawks head coach Joel Quenneville, right, talks with the team during the first period of an NHL hockey game on Thursday Oct. 25, 2018, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Matt Marton)

by Scott King

Tuesday morning the Blackhawks announced they “relieved” Joel Quenneville of his coaching duties.

“I think there’s a lot of different emotions that you kind of go through when something like that happens,” Patrick Kane said. “It was a tough day for everyone.”

Quenneville leaves Chicago the second-winningest head coach in Blackhawks history, registering a record of 452-249-96 in 797 games since 2008. He owns the best playoff record in franchise history, compiling a record of 76-52 including three Stanley Cups (2010, 2013 and 2015).

Under Q, the Hawks made the playoffs in nine of ten seasons and he was the longest tenured head coach in the NHL, having been officially hired by Chicago on October 16, 2008.

“The guy breeds winning,” Kane said. “Coming in as a young player I think there’s lessons you probably thought you knew at the time that you had to learn along the way and he wasn’t afraid to teach them to you, whether it was playing both ends of the ice or not being afraid to sit you if you made a mistake, take a bad penalty, things like that.

“The one thing that just sticks out is his passion and his excitement to try and win hockey games, so that will definitely be a void that we’ll try to fill in here.”

Quenneville is the second-winningest coach in NHL history with an all-time record of 890-532-214. He coached 1,636 career games, first among active NHL coaches and second all-time. Before joining the Blackhawks, Quenneville served as head coach for the Colorado Avalanche (2005 – 08) and St. Louis Blues (1996 – 2004).

Jeremy Colliton will take over as the 38th head coach in franchise history.

Colliton, 33, is the youngest coach currently in the NHL. The Blackie, Alberta native was 12 games into his second season with the Rockford IceHogs (Hawks AHL affiliate) and led the IceHogs to a record of 40-28-4-4 in 2017-18. Under Colliton, the IceHogs also reached the AHL Western Conference Finals in 2018 for the first time.

“It is different, considering what we’re used to,” Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews said of Colliton’s youth. “But from what I hear and what I’ve seen so far, he, Jeremy Colliton brings a lot of, I guess, youthful energy to the game and I think he’s got a lot of experience on the ice as well.

“I think he understands how to get through to young guys and get through to each player and get the best out of them. Heard nothing but good things from the guys that played for him in Rockford last year, just looking forward to what he can bring to our team here.”

Before coaching Rockford, Colliton spent four seasons as the head coach of Mora IK in Sweden.

“A lot of us have had the same coach for 10 years,” Kane added. “So it’s definitely something new for us. At the same time, you try and be professional and keep an open mind to what the organization is doing and do the best you can for the team. Try to get yourself along with the new coach as well.”

It will take time for things to settle in with a new coach, and once they do, the core players who grew their games and achieved so much under Quenneville won’t forget his impact.

“He means the world to me: 10 years, three Stanley Cups, what was I, 23, 24, when I came here?,” Brent Seabrook said. “He taught me a lot as a young man, as a young player. Little things he always harped on that I’ll remember for the rest of my life, for sure.

“Just the way he was with us, how he treated us professionally and as individuals. He was always a guy who liked to have some fun and what-not, but gave us our space and allowed us to be players. It was just, you know, a tough day today and cherish the days and memories and all the stuff we did together.”

“We spent a lot of time here with Joel as the coach,” Hawks goaltender Corey Crawford said. “And the team has had three championships, obviously. You never want to see a guy leave, including the coaches.

“We’ve been through so much together. I think for me, personally, he’s had a ton of confidence in me from the start, and it’s hard to hear that news. In this business, those things happen sometimes. It seems like coaches are maybe the first ones to go most of the time. Like I said, it’s just hard to see him go.”

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