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IN THEIR WORDS: Joel Quenneville Returns to the United Center

Hear from the former Blackhawks head coach and several former players on his return to Chicago for the first time with the Florida Panthers

by Chris Kuc @ChrisKuc /

A familiar face was back walking the United Center hallways on Tuesday night.

Joel Quenneville, who coached the Blackhawks for 10-plus seasons and guided them to Stanley Cups in 2010, '13 and '15, made his first appearance at the United Center since being relieved of his duties during the '18-19 season and eventually taking over the Panthers coaching duties.

"It all brings back a special time in our lives and a special time with the city going through some amazing runs that are so memorable and so many people shared it and so many people played a hand in it and were responsible for it," Quenneville said. "(I) was very fortunate to have that type of career time here in Chicago and shared by a lot of people and I'm feeling that today."

Quenneville had a regular-season record of 452-249-96 during his tenure with the Blackhawks and the team reached the postseason nine times with him at the helm.

Video: Joel Quenneville on returning to Chicago 

What are Quenneville fondest memories of his time with the Blackhawks?

"The best memories are the runs we had," Quenneville said. "Almost a pivotal game in every series that either swung it in our favor or was a turning point that got us through it. Those things kind of stand out knowing how challenging and how difficult it was to win each or any Cup."

Quenneville reminisced about Patrick Kane scoring the Cup winner in 2010 in Game 6 in Philadelphia, facing the Bruins in the '13 Cup Finals and the epic showdown with the Ducks in the Western Conference Finals in '15.

"Those are the things that stood out and the celebrations - the parades were always special as well," Quenneville said. "But (it was) the memories of the guys finding ways to win and key games and making big plays in key moments."

On Nov. 6, 2018, Quenneville was let go by the Blackhawks after the team started the '18-19 campaign 6-6-3 a season after missing the playoffs. Jeremy Colliton replaced him as coach of the Blackhawks and Quenneville was hired by the Panthers on April 8, 2019.

Emotions in the building were running high with the return of a coach that helped a franchise restore a glory lost and Quenneville recognized the importance of the moment.

"That's a special feeling that you don't get to feel in a lot of buildings and to have that experience … of having the privilege to coach here, be here, is always special," Quenneville said. "That environment is where it all gets done and it's fun being a part of that. You see (Jonathan Toews), you see 'Kaner,' you see their team and some of the players you have a lot of respect for and made it all happen and you're fortunate to have the privilege to work with those guys and have some success with them too. Looking back (it's) some of the best times that we've had in my hockey career."

Video: Coach Q on Chicago memories

Here are the thoughts of some of the Blackhawks on Quenneville's return in their words:

STAN BOWMAN, Senior Vice President/General Manager

"At this point, it's really looking back with fondness of what a great run we had together. He was the perfect coach for our team for that stretch of year. We certainly would not have won without him behind the bench and the way that he was able to orchestrate all of it.

"I look back now with fondness of those times. You learn a ton from him over the years. I was a young manager coming in at the time and he was a lot of fun to work with, super knowledgeable of the game, great coach when the game started as far as adjustments and a great feel for the buttons to push to get the team to do what we needed to do to win."


"Sometimes I think you know how great a coach he was and how special a person he was and the more you look back you start to pinpoint little things that make you a little bit more appreciative as to opposed when he was here.

"He was obviously larger than life in the city and I think fans loved him for his intensity and what he brought to our team, his leadership. If you ask players across the board you're always going to get different answers. It's impossible to be liked by everybody when you have to be a leader in that position but he was pretty dedicated to winning and getting the best out of the group and he did that over and over.

"He was definitely allowing myself to grow and to be a good player on the ice. He put me in every situation possible and also just kind of let me find my way as a captain with my teammates. I've always said that he was always respectful of our space in the locker room, he treated us as professionals, as adults, and the respect was mutual in that sense. (I was) very lucky to be able to play for a coach like him for all those years, being a young captain on this team."

Tweet from @BHTVeric: Big crowd for Joel Quenneville���s return to the UC. #Blackhawks


"He was so loved here in Chicago and he's like an icon in the city. He's done so much. Obviously, the championships he's been a part of and how he's helped us come along as players and just kind of the visual the fans would have of him on the bench obviously being stern and mean, but at the same time, we accepted him as a players' coach. Great guy, great coach, a man's man.

"He wasn't afraid to implement his way right away. All of us got benched at some point in time. I remember me and (Brent Seabrook) kind of sitting next to each other on the bench for like 10 or 15 minutes one game in Arizona. (Quenneville) wasn't afraid to lay down the law. He expected you to do our job and if you didn't he wasn't going to play you. I have to respect that.

"He's an intense guy. He loves to win, he loves to be passionate about the game. You have to love that about him."


"He believed in what I could do and stuck with me in the third year in the playoffs. Ray (Emery) had a great year and (Quenneville) stuck with me and we were able to win that year. It seemed like he had a lot of confidence in me. I owe him a lot for sticking with me and doing that. He's a good coach and I think guys really liked him in here and it was tough to see him leave."

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