Chicago, IL —
“You shake my nerves and your rattle my brain
Too much love drives a man insane
You broke my will oh what a thrill
Goodness gracious great balls of fire”1
When Jerry Lee Lewis wrote these lyrics he was writing about passion, specifically the passion a man has when he is in love but there are all kinds of passion. Passion is a part of the human condition that none of us can seem to get enough of. It’s what we all live for. All sports thrive on passion, passion by players for their game, passion of fans for their team and passion of coaches for their teams.
There is no team sport more passionate than hockey and especially playoff NHL hockey. As the temperatures heat up with spring so does the fire of players, fans and yes even professional coaches at the highest level of hockey.
On Thursday Chicago Blackhawks beloved coach Joel Quenneville displayed his passion maybe a little too animatedly for the NHL. The NHL fined him $25,000 for what they termed was “inappropriate conduct”. Coach Quenneville apologized for his lower body gesture “I was definitely excited,” he said. “Disappointed [in] the call, but I’ll apologize for my behavior. It wasn’t appropriate at all. It was a bush-league move on my part.”.
Now I am a fan and I am a fan of the Chicago Blackhawks so you could say I may be a little biased but I’ve got to say the league should be thanking coach Q for displaying a part of the human condition that we all can relate to especially fans and let’s be frank who didn’t find it entertaining as all hell?
The NHL has to gain more fans and generate more interest and until the casual sports fan finds and realizes what a great game hockey is the one thing that does pull people in is people with personality and fire. People who display emotions that we as fans can relate to because they are feeling the same thing we are watching the game brings a connection to the team and sport.
Now I know that children go to the games and you may not want you’re young son or daughter to see a coach grab his manly parts but then again if your offended by this I suggest you put your children in bubbles because they will see much worse than this. It is also a little hypocritical for a league that condones grown men to fight in front of these same children patrons to be offended by cursing or gestures well I find that ludicrous.
Was the gesture inappropriate maybe but was it accurate for how all of us Blackhawks fans felt at the time as the referees blew a crucial missed call that could have determined the outcome of the game? Yes.
Coach Quenneville is human and let his emotions get the better of him in that moment but isn’t that what sports is supposed to be all about? Spontaneous emotional responses like joy when your team wins and disappointment and sometimes anger when your team losses and that is during normal regular season games is the usual responses. Everything is more intensified when your team is in pursuit of the most treasured trophy in all of sports. So one can understand how emotions can get the better of us all.
Chicago is a town that loves it’s coaches full of fire and brimstone. One of the most beloved coaches in the city was Mike Ditka who I’m sure if cameras were lock scoped on him during games I can almost guarantee had gestures and language that would be considered inappropriate but we love the guy for it and for well just being his unbridled self.
Coach Joel Quenneville may have done an inappropriate gesture but the $25,000 fee is well worth it for him, his team and the NHL as well, whether they know it or not. This passionate “inappropriate” gesture spoke to and for an entire fan base and for that we love you coach Q. The dedication and blood, sweat and tears the coach was feeling well we as fans were right there with you grabbing ourselves if not physically emotionally we were.
In a sometimes dull hum drum world a little fire is refreshing and sometimes much needed. It may fire his team and for that the gesture may in the long run be priceless.
To think this was just the first game in the first series, we all can’t wait for more and to see what else will happen. I ask you NHL isn’t that what you want, a captive audience waiting to tune in to see our skilled heros being driven and guided by a spitfire with high hockey IQ that demonstrates his passion that we all share for the wonderful game of hockey and his team? Now that is what I call must see.
1 Great Balls of Fire – composed by Jerry Lee Lewis 1957