Chicago Blackhawks: Coach Joel Quenneville Safe for Now
Coach Joel Quenneville's job will be safe next season regardless of how his team plays in the postseason.
"Oh yeah, there would be no reason [not to retain him]," Wirtz said during a phone interview with ESPN Columnist Melissa Isaacson. "He's signed, they're playing for him. He's not a players' coach, which is good, and he's good with younger players. St. Louis is a prime example. They changed coaches and there was nothing wrong, he just wasn't good with younger players...
This comes as the Blackhawks are having one of their more inconsistent seasons after winning a Stanley Cup in 2010. Quenneville has been under the gun ever since the the Blackhawks went through a NHL season-high nine-game losing streak.
But in recent weeks the Blackhawks have turned their fortunes around, going 7-2-1 in their last 10 games all without Captain Jonathan Toews, and 7-1-1 since the addition of Johnny Oduya into the Blackhawks' lineup.
Rocky Wirtz also talked about the progress of Jonathan Toews and when he might return to the ice.
"Absolutely, I don't want to rush [Toews] back and rightfully so," he said. "That would be stupid. You don't take a blue-chip player and throw him back in after something like that and then have him miss the playoffs because he came back too soon."
As of right now it looks more likely that Toews will rejoin the Blackhawks in the final games of the season or in the first round of the playoffs.
But even if he doesn't, Wirtz said it is important that this team learn how to win without their captain.
"You have to learn to live without him," he said. "Three years ago, he was hurt in L.A. and we didn't do well without him, so you have to learn to play without your captain. One interview recently, I heard him say now that he's injured, he stays far away from the locker room. It doesn't mean he's not working out, but he's not giving the pregame pep talk because guys are thinking, 'You're telling me to do it and you can't do it.' "
The Blackhawks will look to close out the season and enter the playoffs in either the sixth, fifth, or fourth seeds of the Western Conference.
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