Chicago Blackhawks: Joel Quenneville Earns His Extension But Challenges Remain
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Chris Kuc of the Chicago Tribune reported Thursday that an extension with the 'Hawks head coach could be announced Friday afternoon. General manager Stan Bowman announced at a press conference hours before the convention Friday that Quenneville will be signing a three-year extension.
The organization loves to start the convention with a bang. Securing the coach of two Stanley Cup-winners in the last four years certainly qualifies.
Quenneville's current contract expires at the end of the 2013-14 season. It makes sense to lock up one of the NHL's most successful coaches.
In five seasons, Quenneville has won 222 regular season games. This places him behind only Billy Reay at the top of franchise in this category. His .656 points percentage is by far the best such mark in organization history.
Quenneville also can lay claim to two of the franchise's five championships. Before he is done in Chicago, he could have another ring or two.
Quenneville has his flaws just like any coach. He didn't seem on the same page from a personnel standpoint at times in the two seasons following Chicago's 2010 cup triumph. Last summer, Quenneville was allowed to jettison Mike Haviland and install Jamie Kompon as an assistant coach.
Along with Mike Kitchen, Quenneville had two of his guys with him on the bench. The power play, which was a sore spot in previous seasons, didn't show much improvement. On the other hand, the penalty kill was vastly better than the season before.
Chicago killed 87.23 percent of opposing power plays in 2012-13 compared to 78.11 the season before. This catapulted the 'Hawks from 27th in the league to third.
Despite the Blackhawks success rate rising only from 15.16 to 16.67 percent this year, they did move up seven spots in the NHL on the power play. Chicago rose from 26th to 19th this season.
Quenneville loves to tinker with his lines. This can be frustrating to watch sometimes. It's hard to argue with the results this season, though.
As the 'Hawks raced to a history-making start of the lockout-shortened season, the team remained on a remarkably even keel. Chicago's focus in the course of such a great run has to be credited to Quenneville. His refusal to panic in the playoffs when down 3-1 to Detroit also deserves kudos.
Now, it appears that ownership is ready to commit to Quenneville for the immediate future. What hurdles will Quenneville face moving forward?
First up is defending the 2013 Stanley Cup. Quenneville has recent experience in this area, though he should have more pieces in place than in the aftermath of the 2010 championship.
There is the matter of integrating several young prospects into the current lineup. Bowman has prospects like Brandon Pirri, Jeremy Morin, Ben Smith and Jimmy Hayes on the cusp of full-time status with the 'Hawks.
How Quenneville handles the youngsters is going to be a big part of next season. A full slate of 82 games coming off a short summer is equally important. Keeping the troops fresh and dealing with injury will be tougher to pull off in 2013-14.
The future holds challenges for the Blackhawks and their head coach. However, Quenneville has the right to back in the glow that convention attendees will cast upon him. That adulation, like the extension that seems imminent, is well deserved.
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