I’ve criticized Chicago Blackhawks head coach Joel Quenneville many times before. For the most part, it’s been because of his treatment of certain prospect. The Blackhawks had a few prospects who looked ready to take the big step to the big leagues, but Quenneville’s inexplicable mistreatment of them hampered their development.
I’ve written many times about Brandon Pirri. I’ve ripped Quenneville for his horrendous treatment of the youngster, who was the leading scorer in the 2012-13 AHL season. Pirri was ready. But Quenneville, unable to accommodate the young centerman, callously mistreated him, sending him back down again and again until Pirri was traded.
That, to me, is indicative of the struggles the Hawks’ prospects have dealt with this year.
The prospects who did get a better look from Quenneville, Jeremy Morin and Joakim Nordstrom, were underutilized, especially in the playoffs. If Quenneville gave them a look, they could have helped during the Western Conference Finals. As Michal Handzus, Kris Versteeg and Brandon Bollig got reduced ice time as the series went on, the question as to why Quenneville was keeping them in got louder.
Part of the reason why I think the Los Angeles Kings were able to handle the Blackhawks was because Darryl Sutter did something Quenneville seemingly could not: trust his young players. Tyler Toffoli benefited from Sutter’s trust and skated circles around the Blackhawks. While Quenneville’s over-reliance on certain players is not the biggest reason why the Hawks lost, I do feel that it was a factor.
The Blackhawks still have a wealth of young talent waiting in the wings, but in order for them to flourish and give the Blackhawks hope for the future, Quenneville will have to trust them. Now that Teuvo Teravainen is almost certain to be in the lineup at some point next season, Quenneville will need to put that mistrust behind and let his prospects grow into the stars of the future.