Joel Quenneville came into the 2013 season with his days with the Chicago Blackhawks looking numbered. It’s safe to say that that is not the case at all anymore.
The Hawks are off to their best start in not only team history, but of any club in the history of the NHL. They’ve gotten a point in 19 consecutive games, posting a record of 16-0-3 so far.
There are obviously several reasons as to how the Blackhawks have started off so well: star power, goaltending, defense, penalty kill, etc. But not to be overlooked in all of this is the job that Quenneville and his staff behind the bench have done so far this season.
The issues that have plagued this team, from a coaching perspective, have improved by miles this year. It appears that someone gave ol’ Coach Q the gift of patience over Christmas. His tendency to shuffle lines, seemingly after just one poor shift, is gone. He’s been incredibly patient.
In fact, the only real time we’ve seen changed up front has been injury (Dave Bolland). Other than that, we’ve seen almost the exact same four lines in almost every contest this season.
Then there’s the management of goaltenders, or lack thereof. What Quenneville has done poorly in past years, he’s doing very well now. The goalies are well-balanced, in terms of minutes, with a clearly defined starter in Corey Crawford. In the event one does struggle (a la Crawford against the San Jose Sharks a few weeks ago), Q has let them work it out, rather than pull the plug.
Of course, it’s easy to look like a genius when your goaltenders are playing as well as Crawford and Ray Emery are right now.
Special teams are much improved. Jamie Kompon has taken the power play from putrid to middle-of-the-road. Mike Kitchen is leading an absolutely brilliant penalty kill. Who knew that the dismissal of Mike Haviland, who wasn’t one of Quenneville’s guys when he came in, would work out so well?
In just over a quarter of a season, Joel Quenneville has gone from coach on the hot seat, to sudden favorite to take home the Jack Adams Award as the league’s best coach. He could easily end up taking some hardware home at the end of this season.
If the Hawks can keep it up, that is.