Blackhawks Fire Savard and Bring in Quenneville... The Right Move?

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Blackhawks Fire Savard and Bring in Quenneville... The Right Move?

I call this Sean Crowe karma.

Crowe, the NFL Community Leader here on Bleacher Report, had decided this off-season to became a Chicago Blackhawks fan. After all, many on BR had convinced Crowe the Blackhawks were an up-and-coming team, with young studs like Calder Trophy winner Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews, as well as free-agent signees Brian Campbell and Cristobal Huet to provide leadership.

The Blackhawks were even in national headlines because they would be hosting the Detroit Red Wings at Wrigley Field on New Year's Day in 2009.

Yes, this year, expectations were high, thanks to the way 2007-08 ended.

See, last season the Blackhawks, under head coach Denis Savard, made a strong push at the end of the season with seven victories in their last eleven, ultimately finishing just three points short of a playoff berth.

Ahhhh yes, Denis Savard... the man who was fired on Thursday, despite the team picking up its first victory of the year one night earlier.

Joel Quenneville, hired as a scout a month earlier after two previous coaching stints--in St. Louis and Colorado, takes over as the bench boss for the Blackhawks.

Now, why would a team fire its coach just four games into the season? Just when it seemed the Blackhawks had turned the corner by finishing 2007-08 on a high note, made a splash in the off-season with the signing of Campbell and the hiring of hockey legend Scotty Bowman as Senior Advisor of Hockey Operations, now Chicago has gone back to making a move which doesn't make any sense.

One other NHL early firing which I can recall that involved an Original Six team was in 1995, when the Canadiens fired Stanley Cup-winning coach Jacques Demers just five games in, in favor of Mario Tremblay. The Habs, by the way, missed the playoffs that season.

Sure, hockey fans out there will say that Savard was on shaky ground to begin with, and isn't that great of a coach. (Then why does Wayne Gretzky still have a job, may I ask?) Quenneville, fans will say, is a proven winner.

Hmm. Odd. What exactly has Joel Quenneville won?

Sure, in the tough Western Conference, it's difficult to come out on top given the large number of quality teams that battle it out every spring. However, in 11 seasons as an NHL head coach (10, if you exclude the year in which he was fired mid-season) for strong teams in St. Louis and Colorado, Quenneville's record was mediocre at best.

Quenneville has never won a Stanley Cup, and his teams have been bounced in the opening two rounds of the playoffs eight times. That's not a typo. Eight early exits in Stanley Cup play in a decade's worth of coaching in the league. And he'd had superstars like Chris Pronger, Al MacInnis, Joe Sakic, and a host of other talented players on his clubs.

Of course, in his best season statistically, Quenneville allowed his St. Louis Blues to choke in the first round. That came in 1999-2000, when his Blues won the Presidents' Trophy as the NHL's best regular season team, only to fall to a team (San Jose) which had 27 fewer points in the standings.

So, with successful teams, the new Chicago coach has had a brutal postseason resume. Is he really the answer to a young team like the Blackhawks?

That's supposed to be better than Denis Savard, eh?

And even if he is the right man for the job, why wasn't Quenneville hired to be the head coach before the season started? Why bring him in only four games in?

Well, call it Sean Crowe karma. When the Crowester supports a hockey team, bad things seem to follow that club... It'd be interesting to see how Quenneville will tranform the 'Hawks into a winner overnight.

 

**Not only does KP Wee write for Bleacher Report, he’s also a published author. Check out his fiction novel, “Showing Their Scales,” on Amazon.ca and Amazon.com.**
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