Chicago Blackhawks Men of the Bench: All-Time Top 5 Coaches
To say Joel Quenneville has had a successful run as head coach of the Chicago Blackhawks would be bit of an understatement.
Being at the helm of the first Stanley Cup winner in almost 50 years puts Quenneville in an exclusive club among Blackhawks coaches. Does that also put him among the greatest coaches to lead the men of the Indian sweater?
Thirty-seven men have served as head coach of the 'Hawks. Few have lasted more than a few seasons. Some couldn't get out of town fast enough.
What follows is my compilation of the top five Blackhawks head coaches. I took longevity into account, as well as victories and winning percentage. Does Coach Q crash the party? Read on.
5. Bob Pulford
Record with the Blackhawks: 185-180-68 over seven seasons
Pulford took over the Blackhawks bench on four different occasions from 1978 to 2000, when he took over for the final 53 games for Lorne Molleken.
Pulford, in the role of GM, took over the Blackhawks bench twice in midseason (1981-82 and 1984-85), taking both teams to the conference finals. He is second in franchise history in wins.
4. Mike Keenan
Record with the Blackhawks: 153-126-41 over four seasons
Despite wearing out his welcome in Chicago the way he did in several other cities, Keenan did have a measure of success with the Blackhawks.
In four seasons, Keenan won the Norris Division twice, led the 'Hawks to the 1992 Cup finals and led his team to the conference finals two other times. He is fourth all-time in wins by a Blackhawks coach, and his .542 winning percentage is second among Chicago coaches that served for over 250 games.
Keenan was probably the personification of a coach who does not work and play well with others. His stay in Chicago was longer than stops in any of the other six cities in which he coached. The exception was Philadelphia, where he also lasted four seasons.
3. Joel Quenneville
Record with the Blackhawks: 135-68-27 over three seasons
Quenneville's .646 winning percentage is the highest in team history, and he does have that Stanley Cup ring to boot. It may be a little early to accurately place Coach Q historically in Blackhawks lore, but the success he has enjoyed with the team so far merits mention on this list.
Another season or two behind the 'Hawks bench should see him pick up enough wins to climb into second place on Chicago's all-time list.
It would also give him more that 300 games coached with the Blackhawks, something only four other coaches have done.
If Quenneville manages to stick around as long as he did with St. Louis (parts of eight seasons), he may someday find his name at the top of the heap.
2. Rudy Pilous
Record with the Blackhawks: 162-151-74 over six seasons
Pilous took over during the 1957-58 season to guide a young and talented group of players. He won a Cup with that group in 1961 and took the Blackhawks to the finals the following season. His 162 victories are third all-time among Chicago coaches.
In 1960, Pilous, while also coaching the Blackhawks, won the Memorial Cup as the GM of the St. Catharines Teepees.
The Hall of Famer was a longtime fixture in junior hockey and was also the architect of the three-time WHA champion Winnipeg Jets.
1. Billy Reay
Record with the Blackhawks: 516-335-161 over 14 seasons
Reay took over the 'Hawks in 1963 and guided them to the Stanley Cup finals in 1964-65. Reay was never able to hoist a Cup with Chicago, but they made three appearances in the finals. They were the top regular-season conference finishers four years running from 1969-70 to 1972-73.
His tenure is the longest of any Blackhawks head coach. He is the franchise leader in games coached, wins and points. His .589 winning percentage with the team is second only to Quenneville. Keep in mind he coached over 1,000 games while attaining that mark.
Reay was also named coach of the Blackhawks' 75th anniversary team back in 2000.