On a day that Blackhawks President John McDonough said was “filled with mixed emotions,” Joel Quenneville was introduced as the Hawks’ 37th head coach in franchise history, replacing Denis Savard.
“This is a great opportunity,” said Quenneville. “It’s a special moment and I’m excited about it. There are a lot of things I’m looking forward to.”
Quenneville guided Colorado to a record of 44-31-7 and an appearance in the second round of the Stanley Cup playoffs last season, is the St. Louis Blues’ all-time winningest coach and has a career record of 438-283-118.
Blackhawks GM Dale Tallon said that the coaching change was made in order to keep moving towards the team’s goal of becoming a championship-level organization.
“This is a bittersweet day,” said Tallon, “but if you want to be a championship-caliber organization, you have to make tough decisions. It’s about moving forward, and achieving and winning and developing a consistent approach.”
Tallon added that the Hawks’ youth and inexperience – they’re currently the second-youngest team in the NHL- highlighted the need for an experienced head coach behind the bench.
“We felt we needed a more experienced person in [this] position,” he said, “and that’s why we made the decision. [Joel’s] the right man for the right time.”
Tallon explained that one of the main causes for Savard’s dismissal was the “flat” play from the Hawks that he and his staff had seen in the preseason and start of the regular season.
“We thought we needed to send a message and invigorate this team,” he said.
While he has been relieved of his coaching duties, McDonough and Tallon both said that they will offer Savard a position within the organization in the near future.
“For all of us, Denis will be a Blackhawk,” said McDonough.
“Denis handled himself with tremendous class and dignity as he always does,” said Tallon. “We’re going to move on and hopefully he’ll stay involved in the organization for a long time to come."
As for the newest addition to the Blackhawks coaching staff, Quenneville looks forward to the challenge of guiding his new team to the playoffs, something Quenneville has accomplished in 9 of his 11 seasons as a head coach in the NHL.
“I welcome the challenge. I think it’s a tremendous opportunity,” he said. “I’m excited to start working with this group.”
“It’s all about winning,” said Quenneville, “and I look forward to meeting that goal.”