Happy Anniversary, Coach Q: Celebrating 10 years of Joel Quenneville with Blackhawks
CHICAGO – At that point, it was the start of something big, but they certainly weren’t there yet.
Younger players combined with a few veterans got the Blackhawks to the brink of the playoffs in the Spring of 2008, but it wasn’t enough to get the team in the postseason for the first time since 2002.
Big things were planned for the 2008-2009 season and beyond – and the Blackhawks weren’t about to wait for the run to get started. So after going 1-2-1 to start the season, the team made a stunning move on October 16, 2008, to fire head coach Denis Savard. He was a franchise legend who gave the team their first winning season in six years the spring before, but the Blackhawks had another guy in mind to the lead the team to greater heights.
Hired as a scout by the team following his departure as head coach of the Avalanche, Joel Quenneville was promoted that day, held a news conference, and the new era was quickly underway. Then general manager Dale Tallon said that he was displeased with the energy in training camp and the opening three games, and turned to Quenneville to invigorate the group.
Remember, this was the second season of Patrick Kane on Jonathan Toews, with Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook still in the opening years of their career. For the organization looking for a move in the NHL and the hierarchy in Chicago sports, the time was now for bold moves.
“It was a little different watching from afar. The appetite and the passion that creeps in when you coach hopefully comes out tomorrow. I expect it to,” Quenneville said that day.
From there, a dynasty was born.
The Blackhawks made the Western Conference Finals for the first time since 1995 in Quenneville’s first season. Marian Hossa was signed the next year, and Quenneville’s team won 52 regular season games and then 16 in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
On June 9, 2010, it finally happened.
A 49-year Stanley Cup drought was put to an end on Kane’s overtime goal that gave the Blackhawks a 4-3 win over the Flyers in Philadelphia in Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Final. Toews accepted and then raised the Stanley Cup minutes later, the first time the franchise had done so since 1961.
Three years and 17 seconds later, the Blackhawks had another Stanley Cup in a Game 6 as they beat the Bruins in Boston to once again take home a title.
A near miss in the Western Conference Finals cost the Blackhawks a chance at a repeat in 2014, but they wouldn’t miss during a rugged run to a third championship run. They got past the Ducks in seven games to win the conference, then rallied from a 2-1 deficit against the Lightning to win the Stanley Cup on June 15th of that year.
The 2-0 victory gave the Blackhawks their first championship-clinching victory at home since 1938.
With this past Saturday’s win over the Blues included, Quenneville has 449 wins with nine playoff appearances and those three Stanley Cup titles. It’s a decade that has redefined a franchise’s image along with their importance in the NHL and the Chicago sports landscape.
All of these changes went into high gear when the Blackhawks made a bold move to bring “Coach Q” into the fold.