As Chicago Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville nears his 650th win he’ll most likely downplay the significance of the moment and steer the conversation back towards the stellar season his team is currently having.
I however, am going to blow a little smoke in honor of “Coach Q.”
When a discussion arises about coaches in the NHL, the name Scotty Bowman falls off the tongue like drool on a Bulldog. With nine Stanley Cups to go along with his 1,244 regular season wins, the man stands alone atop the Mt. Olympus of Hockey.
Quenneville has almost no shot at Bowman’s mark, but most hockey fans need to come to grips with reality: coach Q will most likely end up as the sports second-most winning coach of all time. Check out the math:
Assuming “Q” wins 10 of the final 17 games — a serious underbid considering the way the Hawks are playing — he’ll be sitting at 658 wins heading into next season. That would put him just ahead of Ron Wilson and his 648 wins and into sole possession of sixth place all time. Barring another lockout — and you never can tell — a full 82-game season should be all it takes for Quenneville to move into third place.
Quenneville’s made his mark based on consistency. He’s coached an 82 game season 13 times in his career and averaged 44.2 wins. The fact that he can offer such stability to a franchise also shows why he’s spent his career with only three teams (St. Louis Blues, Colorado Avalanche and Chicago) rather than the eight franchises that have hired the coach at No. 5.
Most Hawks fans will celebrate Quenneville’s ascension to fifth place when it comes at the expense of former coach Mike Keenan. Keenan’s turbulent run with the Hawks did produce a Stanley Cup finals run in 1991-92, but Bowman and the Pittsburgh Penguins made sure it ended in defeat.
Up next is the “Big Irishman” Pat Quinn in fourth place with 684 wins. Quinn never managed to get his hands on Lord Stanley; however, he was at the helm of the Philadelphia Flyers when they went unbeaten for 35 games in 1979-80 (a streak the 2013 Hawks know a bit about). Quinn is unfortunately one of two coaches in the top five who won a ton of games, but fell victim to other coaches on the list ahead of them.
Just a month or so further into the season, Quenneville will take aim at third place and Dick Irvin’s 692 wins. Irvin was actually drafted by the newly-formed Blackhawks in 1926 (at 34!) and went on to coach them after his playing days ended. His four cups (three with Montreal — shocker — and one with Toronto) during the “Golden Era” guarantee him a chapter in hockey’s history book.
There you have it. Assuming Quenneville wins his 44.2 games next year, he’ll be heading into next season’s playoffs with just over 700 wins and in third place. Two seasons later at his current pace, and he’ll pass the Legendary Al Arbour, whose 782 wins — almost exclusively with the New York Islanders — are good for second all-time.
So give it up for “Coach Q,” will ya? He may never catch Scotty Bowman’s mark, but you know that mustache is going to look good up on Hockey’s Mt. Rushmore.