My rants throughout his tenure with the Hawks have left little to the imagination on my feelings surrounding Joel Quenneville as the head coach. I realize that there may be some instances where I assumed too much, or was maybe biased to the situation at hand. Lets face it, there is a lot we just do not know about: what really goes on in the locker room, and how practices are really handled; essentially, what goes on behind closed doors.
Back in 2008 when Savard was let go in order to be replaced by coach Q, I was most certainly one of those in the "WHAT THE HELL?" camp. Then, the whole Stanley Cup thing happened and my views towards Q were quieted by a giddy, schoolgirl happiness. I began to believe that the great mustache might have some magic hiding somewhere in there.
What have been my gripes you ask? Well, for starters I don't think that the consistently inconsistent line combos have done anyone any good. I feel that it shows a lack in understanding of player strengths, potentials, and chemistry. It can lead to more chaos in an already chaotic situation. the 2010-11 season is a great case and point. Players were unable to get comfortable or sustain a desired system of play.
I have also seen a tendency to over use, or over rely on specific players too much, even when it was obvious that accumulating high minutes on the ice were stunting their performance. Then there was the little question of goaltending back in the glory year when it took far too long for the right goalie to stand between the pipes. However, I will state this choice might have been pressured by other suits in the organization.
Believing in small name guys seems hard for Q, It was Niemi in 2009-10, and then Hendry the following year, who was so obviously better suited for the ice than Boynton. There was a lack of trust in the Skille/Stalberg skills that just couldn't live up to their potentials, something I believe to have been exacerbated by coaching choices. For some reason though, believing in a giant named Scott was worth a few too many punches to the face.
I could go on, but my memory is nothing to applaud at. So, I should digress even though there are faded thoughts of mis-oppurtune line changes and seemingly unjust benchings in the daily hustle and bustle of the NHL year. What does stand out to me a great deal is the lack of control this past season's team showed.
Everything is fun and games when the talent is oozing out of every nook and cranny. Hard not to win with a roster as bloated as the 2009-10 season was. Was the following year a snap shot of what happens when the going gets tough? Many have pointed to Toews for not serving as the leader who could whip his team into shape when it was hurting so badly, but should we not then point a giant foam finger at Q? Was it a coincidence that the Hawks seemed to respond when Haviland took the reigns?
And yet, Q still has a Cup to his name and a fairly strong winning record as a Hawk. Am I being to hard? Probably, though I still see a logic to my negative reasoning.
Time for some positives to the Q-stache. He is a great symbol to stand behind. He always comes off extremely professional and surprisingly positive even when his team is playing bad enough to warrant a replacement. I also believe that his team does look up to him in many ways, even if they were honest at times on their feelings towards the line shuffling.
At the core I find Q to be a smart and confident individual who has good thoughts on the game of hockey, how it should be played and building a system which supports it. I think those strengths are lost in the heat of the moment and the game-time decisions. My final grade for last year is a C-, a 70%, just 1 percent above a D+. He passes, but just barely. Let us see how things go with a far better, although untested roster this coming fall.