The Q Factor 05/12/2009Posted by sportretort in Sports.
So, remind me again why the Colorado Avalanche fired Joel Quenneville as head coach.
The Chicago Blackhawks defeated Vancouver in game 6 of their NHL Western Conference Semi-final series. With the win, the Blackhawks take the series 4 games to 2 and move into the NHL’s final four where they await the winner of the Detroit-Anaheim series in the Western Conference Finals. Quenneville is in his first year as the Blackhawks coach. And he has been dealt a great hand, taking over a team with plenty of young talent. Monday’s game was a perfect example of that. Twenty one year old team captain Jonathan Toews scored 2 goals. Not to be outdone, 20 year old Patrick Kane had the first hat trick in a Blackhawks playoff game in 25 years. Kris Versteeg, 22, also scored a goal and is one of 3 finalists for the Calder Memorial Trophy given to the NHL’s rookie of the year. All told there are 8 players on the current roster who have yet to see their 25th birthday. They are young. They are exciting. They are well coached.
That brings us back to Quenneville. One might think that he is just in the right place at the right time. If you do then you don’t know Coach Q. This is his 10th full season as a head coach in the NHL. This is his ninth playoff team. And the year his team missed the playoffs (Colorado, 2006-07) his team finished with 95 points, setting the league record for most points by a team to miss the playoffs. He has led the Blackhawks into the playoffs for only the second time since 1997. The other appearance was in 2002. This is Chicago’s first appearance in a conference final since 1995.
The Avalanche, on the other hand, the team that let coach Q go after last season, finished with the worst record in the
Western Conference this season. They finished with 69 points, by far the lowest total for the franchise since it moved to Denver before the 1995-96 season. General Manager Francois Giguere paid for the finish with his job shortly after the season ended, and coach Tony Granato may not survive the off-season. After all, there is still talent in Denver, with the likes of Paul Stastny, Marek Svatos and Milan Hejduk on the roster. Would the Avalanche have missed the playoffs if Quenneville was still their coach? Perhaps, but we will never know. It is hard to imagine he would have had such a tremendous drop in the team’s record. The biggest gap in his resume is that he has not won a Stanley Cup as a head coach. The Blackhawks have not won it since 1961. Those two droughts may end soon. In the NHL, head coaches are discarded like a bad hand at a poker tournament. Still, you have to wonder how you can dump a coach that is 9 for 10 in playoff appearances. But the 1 million fans that have passed through the turn styles in Chicago’s United Center this year are happy Coach Q is in the Windy City.