The Chicago Blackhawks have come a long way since hiring head coach Joel Quenneville. That fact might not be clearer in the fact that there were murmurs about a potential departure after two “disappointing” first-round exits following the team’s resounding Stanley Cup run in 2010. You can put those rumors to bed, however, as Quenneville told Chris Boden and others “that was never in the cards.”
“I love everything about what we have here,” Quenneville said. “I have two more years left (on my contract) and I’m happy here. Nothing gave me an indication that [a departure] was on the horizon.”
That doesn’t mean that everything will be the same next season, however. The Blackhawks decided to part ways with one assistant (Mike Haviland) and keep Mike Kitchen in the mix. Adam Jahns and others note that Quenneville is very close with Kitchen but Coach Q made two stern claims: this wasn’t a matter of cronyism and he’s calling the shots as far as his assistants go.
On “dysfunction” in the coaching staff: “I knew it could be better but there was dysfunction” and Blackhawks GM Stan Bowman “provided opportunity for change.”
Haviland’s the one out of a job, but Quenneville told the press that much of the failures were on his head.
“I feel like I should be absorbing as much as anybody,” Quenneville said. “I take ownership for what happened this year.”
It’s not surprising that the Blackhawks are sticking with a coach who won them a recent Cup and navigated some choppy post-cap-purge waters, but the calls for his head will get louder if Chicago doesn’t make good on its talented core again. If that happens, he’ll at least go down fighting with “his guys.”