He still sounds like he gargles with imported Canadian gravel every morning. He still wears the same look on his face during games, the one that hints at bubbling rage and something to do with stolen milk money.
And Joel Quenneville is still winning.
If the Blackhawks beat the Predators on Tuesday, it will be Quenneville’s 782nd career victory, tying him with Hall of Famer Al Arbour for second on the all-time victory list. The leader is Hawks senior advisor Scotty Bowman, who has 1,244 victories, meaning there are more than 2,000 combined victories whenever the two men are together in the United Center.
The technical term for that is “a lot of victories.’’
Quenneville will have gotten to 782 in almost 200 fewer games than Arbour did, but Arbour has four Stanley Cups to Coach Q’s three. Clearly, we’re splitting hairs in the coaching royalty department.
It takes great players to win multiple championships, and Quenneville certainly has had that in Chicago. Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane and Duncan Keith help explain the .624 winning percentage in his eight seasons with the Hawks. But they doesn’t explain everything. The franchise couldn’t have gone this far this fast without a coach who keeps all the moving parts moving in the right direction.
It’s worth noting that some people wanted Q out after the Hawks followed their 2009-10 championship with losses in the conference quarterfinals the next two seasons. There were rumors of palace intrigue. But give the Hawks credit for standing by their man. Two more Cups would follow.
No matter how beneficial it is to have Scotty Bowman working for the franchise, it can’t be easy having the best coach in the sport’s history looking over your shoulder. That’s a challenge few other coaches have faced. Yet Quenneville has thrived. Whenever the Hawks get around to making him the highest-paid coach in the league won’t be soon enough.
Yes, he drives his players crazy with his mad-scientist line changes. Yes, perhaps it would be better sometimes if he stopped tinkering. But he’s heading for his 782nd victory, spread out over three NHL coaching stops, and it seems like the guy knows what he’s doing.
The Blackhawks have won seven games in a row, putting them within four points of Dallas for the best record in the Western Conference. It’s so normal now we don’t expect any different. Thank Quenneville for that.