Before the three Cups and future hall-of-famers, there was a franchise, desperate for success and a re-energized fanbase. The Chicago Blackhawks were looking for a change, something to give the city hope for the future. Absent from the playoffs for five consecutive seasons, the Blackhawks needed a spark. In comes the Q.
Trying to make it back to the postseason for the first time since 2002, the management had very little patience when the team started 1-2-1 with coach (and former Blackhawk) Denis Savard, resulting in his firing. According to then-general manager Dale Tallon, his reasoning was that he was displeased with the energy in training camp and the opening three games. After losing in the conference finals in 2008 to the Detroit Red Wings, the Colorado Avalanche fired coach Joel Quenneville, paving the way for Chicago to hire the newly available coach. He was officially announced as Chicago’s on October 16th of 2008.
In his first season, the Blackhawks made the Western Conference Finals for the first time since 1995. Although losing to Detroit (ironically), there were good signs to come later on for the franchise. The following year, Chicago would sign future hall-of-famer Marian Hossa, win 52 regular season games and make it to the Stanley Cup Final, where they defeated the Philadelphia Flyers in six games for their first Stanley Cup in 49 years.
In 2013, Chicago makes it once again to the Stanley Cup where it seemed as if the impossible had happened. Down by two goals with less than three minutes to go in game six, the Blackhawks shock the road crowd of the Boston Bruins by scoring two goals in seven seconds in the third period to claim their second Stanley Cup in three years. If it weren’t for the Los Angeles Kings spoiling the party in overtime in the Western Conference Finals, Chicago would’ve been heading to the Stanley Cup Final yet again. Not to worry for the Blackhawk faithful as they headed back the following year.
When the Stanley Cup Final rolled around in 2015 against the Tampa Bay Lightning, the Blackhawks had a chance to do something they haven’t done since 1938: win the Stanley Cup on their home ice. After a hard-fought battle with the Lightning team, the Hawks prevailed on a 2-0 shutout win to capture their third Stanley Cup in five years, starting their own dynasty, one that it still recognized today.
With his three championships, he became only the third Chicago sports coach in history to win three titles, along with Phil Jackson of the Chicago Bulls and George Halas of the Chicago Bears. On March 19, 2014, Quenneville became just the third head coach in NHL history to record 700 wins. 2016 was a productive year for Coach Q: January 14th, he won his 783rd game, passing Al Arbour for second all-time amongst NHL coaches. On April 3rd, Quenneville joined Scotty Bowman as the only two coaches to win at least 800 games. On March 10, Quenneville coached in his 1,608th regular season game and passed Arbour for second most on the NHL’s all-time games coached list.
As a Blackhawks fan, I cannot thank you enough, Q. Your grit, intensity and aggression are what has shaped this franchise and revitalized this fanbase for the last ten years. You continue to break records and cement your legacy in NHL history and I’m sure everyone in Chicago is forever grateful for the turnaround you’ve made to this team. Ten years has certainly come and gone by but I’m glad the mustache has stayed with you all these years. That is something we cannot part ways with.