Someday, Joel Quenneville, (AKA Q) is going to be fired from coaching the Hawks. Yesterday, however, was not that day and instead he was extended for three more years. By default, I've frequently wound up being a supporter/defender of Q by trying to suggest some perspective when he ignores the wisdom of thousands of coaches who interject from a position of authority......in front of a computer screen at home. Without a doubt, Q has the ability to pull the most baffling shit out of thin air and when it doesn't work, you feel like a horrified Less Nessman watching live turkey's plummet from a helicopter. When he does find the right line combos, he's typically given the old, "Meh, he got lucky". I would say he can't win, but with two cups to his name, I can't really say that either. So, on to the fluff.
I took a look at Hawks coaches on wiki here and Q is in some pretty lonely company. With a regular season record of 222-106-44, he is the only Hawks coach to have a >.600 record. He is also the only coach to have two cups to his name. Lifetime, Q's stats suggest he has been a very good coach in the regular season and by most accounts I have read of players who have played for him, he is well respected. Since coming to the Hawks, he has had the benefit of having a good roster in the years they went to the WCF and the two years they won the cup. In the other two seasons, not so much. Regardless, not every talent stacked team wins, see this year's Penguins for just one example. Arguably, some Q's best work this year came from not doing much work and in that I see an evolution. He still got outcoached on occasion, but in the end, it was his team hoisting.
As for the knocks on Q, well there's quite a few that on the surface, seem fair. What we never see of course is what goes on behind closed doors and what goes on at practice. Compared to other coaches like Babcock or Trotz, there is little in the Hawks game that could be called a system save for the one definable aspect of their game which is a quick transition. The power play continues to suck very badly and at some point, even I agree that it's time to stop throwing all of your best players on the ice and expecting something different to happen. When it comes to the dog house, Q has made some curious choices, Stalberg being the most recent, Brouwer being another name in the past. Likewise, Q will predictably always go short bench with veterans he trusts when the chips are down. I don't think the lack of playing time in the finals is going to mess with Leddy's head long term and again, it's hard to argue with how things turned out. Still, when it's on the line, you know what Q is going to do and if the other team can neutralize that, you don't know if Q will reach for younger players let alone his dog house players.
Regardless of whatever real or imagined faults Q may have, it would be absurd to fire a coach who has done what Q has done in four years time, unless you had a chance to hire a once in a generation coach. Stacked team or not, you hire a coach to win and Q has done that. Maddening and baffling as he can be, by the time he is done here in Chicago, he will possibly become the all time most successful coach this team will ever have.
Filed under: Uncategorized