After coming to Chicago in 2008, bringing them 3 Stanley Cups, and years of footage of an unflinching mustachioed frown, the Blackhawks have fired Joel Quenneville as their head coach.
The Blackhawks have had a rough start to their 2018-2019 season, going 6-6-3, the last five of which have been losses. Last year, the Hawks went 33-39-10, missing the playoffs for the first time in ten years. In addition to this, since 2015, the Blackhawks haven’t won a playoff series, ducking to the St Louis Blues in 7 games in 2016 before being swept by the Predators in 4 in 2017.
Statistically, this is a decision that makes sense. The Blackhawks haven’t lived up to the dynastic standards they created by winning three Stanley Cups. After riding out last season with an underwhelming record and missing the playoffs for the first time in ten years, the Blackhawks have had a rough go of it. It’s understandable that the Blackhawks organization would want to try and shake things up by removing their coach.
But this decision isn’t one that sits right. Coach Q is the 2nd most winning-est coach in NHL history, and has the 2nd most coached games in NHL history. He has a depth of experience and has coached the Blackhawks to 452 wins. Previous to this post season slump of the past three years, he had a team that constantly produced for him. It comes off as a bit rash to fire him 15 games into the season, looking to all he has brought to Chicago.
It is understandable that the Blackhawks couldn’t go through another 15 games only winning 6. It is understandable that looking at their power play numbers going 7 for 50, pointing fingers at the coach would make sense. But giving Coach Q more time was always an option. Or at least giving him this last season as a chance, and if it didn’t work out, letting him go on less shocking terms. It comes as a punch in the gut after seeing his stern stance behind the bench over the last ten years.
Coming into Q’s place is Jeremy Colliton, moving up from coaching the Rockford Ice Hogs in the start of his second season. During his first season as head coach of the Ice Hogs, he coached them to a 40-28-4-4 season. losing out in the third round of the playoffs against the Texas Stars. During his hockey career, he played 5 seasons for the New York Islanders, playing 57 games, netting 3 goals and tallying 3 assists. His head coaching position in Rockford last year was his first head coaching position, and he’ll come into the NHL at 33 years old, making him currently the youngest coach in the NHL.
Removing your head coach and replacing him with a man nearly half his age, and not quite a tenth of his playing experience, is a bold, and potentially insulting, decision. However, for a team looking to “rattle the cages”, it is the opposite of the old guard that Quenneville represents. He’ll have his first chance in the NHL Thursday night against the Hurricanes, who, like the Hawks, are second to last in their division. Hopefully, he’ll get a good start to his NHL coaching career.
To Coach Q, thanks for the incredible ten years and the dynasty you helped create. I think I share the sentiment of the rest of Chicago when saying thank you, and your tenure was something this city will never forget.