Chicago Blackhawks – Coach Quenneville Renaissance Man


photo by Maggie Avila

photo by Maggie Avila

Chicago, IL — A Renaissance man is one that is defined as “An individual talented in all spheres of human endeavour” 1.  I would define a Renaissance man also as being able to be flexible and possessing a wide range of talents. A man if you will that can wear many hats comfortably. A man wise enough to exercise patience.

Coach Q as he is lovingly called or sometimes “the Stache”, in homage to his glorious mustache definitely qualifies as a true Renaissance man. No more so apparent than in this past 2012-13 season were his many skills.  The many hats he wears as the coach of one of the most successful NHL teams is broad in scope.

He is a head coach which means he has to be a technician and statistician and student of the game of hockey but he is also much more than that.  He is a philosopher, physiatrist, alchemist, surrogate father figure, PR man, former hockey player, talent developer & motivational speaker.

What makes Joel Quenneville a very good coach is that he has to keep a very talented and successful team focused and on the same page which maybe harder than coaching a bad team or an average team.  When a team is bad or average everyone knows there needs to be improvement and everyone is on board with working to improve but good or great teams the focus is much more difficult.

It is harder to sustain success consistently than achieve it due to the human ego. Everyone wants to win and it is only natural that upon achieving all the success that the Chicago Blackhawks have recently that they would become satisfied and maybe kick back a bit. Coach Q however, has his team lock scoped on another Stanley Cup. His task keeping everyone grounded and keeping the hunger alive in his talented core.

photo by Maggie Avila

photo by Maggie Avila

Last year the Chicago Blackhawks were one of the worst teams overall defensively speaking. In fact they were ranked 22nd in the league in GAG during the regular season. Their penalty kill was 27th in the league and they were not very good in these areas in the playoffs either, which probably explains their first round exit against Phoenix.

This year the Blackhawks were first in the league in GAG and their penalty kill was third overall in the NHL. This commitment to defense first signals a couple of things. The ability to correct ones mistakes of the past so they do not get repeated and a commitment from the team to shift their focus from offense first to defense first and it has paid off.

There also is probably no better coach that understands his players  both their weaknesses and their strengths than coach Q. Everyone in Chicago all season long has questioned some of his decisions, isn’t that what we fans do?  Saad on the first line with Toews and Hossa what? Splitting the time in nets between Corey Crawford and Ray Emery what? Switching up the defensive pairings what? Putting who on the penalty kill that needs so much improvement Frolik and Kruger what? Maybe though the biggest of these putting out four lines and sometimes the 4th line up against other teams first lines what?

Were all these adjustments gambles or a complete understanding of your team? Since they were all not only successful but, maybe pivotal moves during the Blackhawks regular season and contributed so much to their success you’d have to say these moves were more than just rolling the dice.

Knowing your players psyche is also a key element and having the fortitude to be a disciplinarian is crucial. In season coach Q benched Brent Seabrook who was not having his best game. Dangerous move or could be, yet it paid off.  Seabrook came back in that game and had a goal and assist I do believe.

Coach Q  today in practice had Viktor Stalberg and Brandon Saad pretty much relegated to fourth and fifth lines sending a message to the boys to step up their games. Harsh? Maybe but he has his team in round two of the playoffs and must do what is best for this team’s success at all times. You also have to trust he knows what will motivate Stalberg and Saad as we all know they are very talented and capable of great heights and the Stache is just trying to bring out the best in the boys.

He also gave Brandon Saad a shot to develop with two of the best two way forwards in the game today when he put him on the first line.  That was a huge opportunity for a rookie.  Saad proved all year long he should be on that line with Toews and Hossa, now it is the playoffs and the Manchild must be more the Man than the child. As stated Q’s a phyciatrist and surrogate father figure.

He is also the boss behind the bench. One that he along with the players have state he frequently says “Nobody loves winning more than me” or put another way don’t blow this boys I don’t want to have to yell after the game but I will if you make me. Who wouldn’t be motivated to doing their best.

Photo by Maggie Avila

Photo by Maggie Avila

Coach Joel Quenneville, this year more so than any in the past has this team playing as a team and not just as a group of skilled, talented individuals. The Blackhawks are all focused and committed to playing good solid two way hockey. He is up for the Jack Adams award for the coach who has contributed the most to his team’s success and rightfully so.  Coach Q won this award back in 1999 – 2000 when he was with the St. Louis Blues but surprisingly has never won while behind the Blackhawks’ bench. This however is not the trophy he is looking to secure and has been pushing his team all year to get. No it’s much bigger than any personal achievement award. One that not only he and his team can share but an entire city and fan base can feel apart of.

The biggest difference this year over the past two years for the Chicago Blackhawks – patience both from the players and maybe from their head coach as well.  This year he has switched up the lines less, stuck with struggling players longer and given opportunities to the unproven players. He has refused to let a highly talented team rest on their laurels. The results speak for themselves so far but they are not done yet.  Chicago Blackhawks’ fans need to remember when we think coach Q is doing something crazy or questionable, he’s more than earned our patience and by in as well.

  1. Taken from the urban dictionary http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=renaissance%20man
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