As Blackhawks lose opportunity, Quenneville gains one
by Scott King
When the Blackhawks were cleaning out their lockers on Sunday, word began spreading that the Panthers were close to hiring former Chicago coach Joel Quenneville.
Quenneville, 60, coached the Blackhawks to three Stanley Cups during his time in Chicago (Oct. 16, 2008 – Nov. 6, 2018) and a 452-249-96 record.
His 890 wins in 22 seasons with the St. Louis Blues, Colorado Avalanche and Blackhawks combined are second in NHL history behind Scotty Bowman (1,244). Quenneville’s 1,636 NHL games as a head coach are also second to Bowman (2,141).
Florida made things official with Q on Monday. Panthers general manager Dale Tallon, formerly with the Hawks, was the same person who hired Quenneville in 2008.
“I guess first reaction would be happy for him, you know,” Patrick Kane said Sunday. “Happy for Dale [Tallon] as well. I know they kind of started off together here, so I’m sure they’ll put together a good team and win a lot of games.”
Despite the Hawks being eliminated from playoff contention for the second straight year after making it in nine straight, Kane had a career year. He finished third in scoring with 110 points behind Connor McDavid (116) of the Oilers and Nikita Kucherov (128) of the Lightning.
Reflecting on the season, Kane was happy for his success, but disappointed in the team’s shortcomings.
“I guess a little bit of both,” Kane said. “I thought I could’ve played better down the stretch for the team in some important times of the season to help us get there. You know, overall, you look at the big picture, you’d probably be pretty happy with your season, personally.
“But it’s kind of frustrating that, really, it doesn’t mean much. I don’t want to say it’s like a year wasted, but I think we all played to be in the playoffs and to be playing our best hockey going into the playoffs. So it’s a little frustrating we’re not in that position.”
Jonathan Toews had a career year as well, reaching 81 points for the first time.
Toews believed even with his personal success this year, learning new head coach Jeremy Colliton’s system was a bit of an uphill battle for the 2018-19 Hawks.
“Yeah, there’s no doubt in some cases as a player you think you maybe know best,” Toews said. “You want to argue or you maybe are resistant to a little bit of change here and there. That was definitely the case with myself, making simple mistakes that I didn’t find myself making otherwise.
“There was an adjustment period there. As soon as we got everyone on board things definitely turned around. Playing a solid, defensive game is a huge foundation to your team’s success, and it was tough to get that going in the early going. But once it was there, we felt pretty good about our chance to win games every single night. Going forward, I think there’s still a lot of room for improvement. It could be a huge difference-maker for us next year.”
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